Where did spiced rum come from?
Rum was invented, or was at least commonly known to be produced in the seventeenth century, though there are historical references to a “wine sugar” which we can reasonably suspect is rum, dating back as far as the thirteen hundreds. Spiced rum however, is just a baby. Yes, ok it’s kind of the same, but it’s rare for a spirit to have a sub category as widely embraced as spiced rum. Today there are a number of brands focused entirely on the spiced variety, such is the demand for spiced rum.
Pinpointing when spiced rum first became recognised as a “type” of rum is difficult, especially when you consider the rules for what qualifies as a standard rum differ depending on where you are in the world, even to this day. It’s likely that when The Captain Morgan Rum company started offering spiced rum in the US in 1984 that marked a poignant moment for spiced rum. The huge Canadian owned company founded in 1944 put spiced rum on an unprecedented platform, Morgans Spiced continues to feature behind almost every bar around the world to this day, though now owned by global brand Diageo.
It doesn’t take much to understand why spiced rum is popular. The addition of flavours which can be recognised and enjoyed by anyone is welcome, the pomposity which might sometimes surround dark rum and other spirits, particularly whiskey is far less and for a lot of people that is a plus. Some people might say spiced rum is simpler and therefore less revered but we disagree. The same rum connoisseur who will appreciate an expertly made, barrel aged rum can appreciate the layers of flavoured depth in a spiced rum.
With spiced rum it’s about appreciating the beautiful painting, less about the craftmanship that went into making the canvas.
Common spices used to make spiced rum include; clove, cinnamon, vanilla, star anise, citrus fruit, nutmeg and ginger. There are a variety of other flavoured rums which have made it to market in the past twelve months, which sway away from these traditional spices, much in the same way flavoured gin has taken off. It will be interesting to see if these alternative flavours experience the same longevity that traditionally spiced rum has sustained since the 1980’s.
If there’s one thing we’re sure of, it’s that you should enjoy your rum in any which way you see fit. Dark, golden, white, spiced, flavoured, alone, over ice, with a mixer or otherwise.