Contrary to the common belief, rum doesn’t quite herald from the hands of pirates on deserted islands. In fact, the alcoholic beverage was given to the sailors of the British Royal Navy to keep the crew hydrated during long-haul travel.

During ocean travel, crews kept three liquids on hand to drink and stay hydrated during long journeys; water, beer and rum. But because water was the quickest substance to turn rancid while on the water, the sailors added beer and rum to the water to make it more palatable and longer lasting.

Until 1970, the British Navy even gave sailors a daily ration of rum, which was known as a “tot”. But the last of these tots were delivered on July 31, and this day is now known annually as Black Tot Day.

Rum was first created in the 17-century almost by accident. Caribbean sugar farmers of the time produced sugar by crushing sugar cane, boiling the juices and then leaving the liquid in clay pots to cure. During this process a dark, sticky substance would seep out of the pots leaving the cured sugar behind. This sticky substance was molasses, and during the 17th century molasses was seen purely as industrial waste. Farmers had no use for the unwanted substance so they were forced to feed it to livestock or dispose of it in the ocean.

Although its exact origins remain slightly unclear, it is rumoured that sometime during the 17-century a farmer realised that by mixing the molasses with liquid skimmed off the cane juice it created the first stage for distillation. After the liquid went through a fermentation and distillation process, rum was created.

Rum is aged in casks, which determines its final colour. There are three common varieties of rum – light, gold and dark rum. Light rum, also known as white rum, is fermented in steel casks and is filtered to produce a clear coloured alcohol that is light and slightly sweet in taste. Middle-aged rum is known as gold or amber rum and is aged in wooden barrels for slightly longer than light rum. Dark rum is made by aging the white rum in charred oak casks that create a deep, rich brown coloured liquor with a full flavour.

Fruits such as oranges, limes, or even bananas are infused with dark rum to create a delicious tropical-tasting drink that is usually served neat or over ice. By adding a mixture of common spices, sometimes even caramel, to dark rum, a deliciously aromatic and comforting spiced rum is created.

Spiced Rum

To make your own at-home spiced rum – a perfect drink to add a blanket of warmth during the winter months, combine: allspice, cloves, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a jar. Twist orange peel just above the mixture to release some of its oils and then add peel to jar. Split a vanilla bean length-wise and then scrape its seeds into jar and add bean. Finally, fill the jar with a dark rum of your choice, cover and shake to combine, and let it sit for 24 hours.

Australian Rum Manufacturers

Bundaberg Rum, FNQ Rum Co., Inner Circle Rum, Holey Dollar Rum, Hoochery Distillery Ord River Rum.