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Rums of the Caribbean

Endless Caribbean - Rums of the Caribbean

A culinary investigation into the rums of the Caribbean will reveal a historic and intriguing process that includes core guidelines to ensure a worthy beverage. Rum enthusiasts who are intent on savouring the world of Caribbean rums are in for a treat as they explore a region that is home to some of the world’s best rum distilleries. These distilleries each have their own unique flavors and traditions which result in a variety of rum specialties that range from light rum to dark rum and from spiced rum to aged rum.

The Caribbean has a rich history of rum production, which dates to the 17th century. Nature’s hand in the process comes in the form of a glorious tropical climate and rich, fertile soil. These are the perfect conditions for growing sugar cane, which is the key ingredient in rum. Over the centuries, Caribbean rum has become synonymous with quality, and today, the region produces some of the world’s most sought-after rums.

From Jamaica’s bold and spicy rums to Barbados’ smooth and refined rums, the Caribbean offers a wide variety of flavors and styles to choose from. Let us embark on a journey to discover the rums of the Caribbean.

History of Caribbean Rums

Rum is a distilled spirit made from the sugarcane plant. This beverage was invented in the Caribbean island of Barbados, and soon spread to other countries such as Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. The first mention of rum on record, was in Barbados around 1650, where it was originally called “kill-devil” or “rumbullion”. However, by 1667 the name was shortened to “rum” [1] and this is the universal moniker recognised for the beverage.

The sugarcane plantations of the Caribbean were ideal for a rum industry to evolve and thrive. Molasses, one of the byproducts of sugar production, was used to make rum. Because Caribbean islands had an abundance of good weather, sugarcane and labor, they were seen as the perfect locations for rum production. As a result, rum was plentiful and it quickly became a popular drink among sailors, pirates, and the working class.

Influence of Colonialism

The colonial powers of Europe played a significant role in the development of rum in the Caribbean. The British, French, and Spanish all had colonies in the region, and they all had a hand in the development of rum. The role of the British was significant because they established a rum trade route, which allowed rum to be exported to other parts of the world.

During the colonial period, rum was a form of currency. It was used to pay slaves and was also used to purchase goods. Rum was also used as a medicine and was believed to have healing properties. The medicinal properties of rum were well known, and it was often used to treat various ailments such as coughs and colds, sore throat, heart ailments and cholesterol issues.

Modern Industry Development

Today, the Caribbean is still known for its rum production. The rum industry has come a long way since its inception in the 17th century. Modern rum production is now a complex process that involves distillation, aging, and blending. Because of these modern techniques, the rum produced in the Caribbean is more well-known for its unique flavor and quality.

The Caribbean islands are home to some of the most famous rum brands in the world, such as Mount Gay, Bacardi and Appleton Estate. The rum industry is a significant contributor to the economies of the Caribbean islands, and it is an essential part of the region’s cultural heritage. Rum distilleries now offer rum tours and tastings, which allow visitors to see the rum making process and taste the product at various stages.

Types of Caribbean Rums

There are several types of rum in the Caribbean. Rums can be distinguished by their aromas, colors, and flavours.

Light Rums

Light rums, which are also known as white or silver rums, are clear in color and have a light, delicate flavor. They are usually aged for a short time, which gives them a milder taste. This does not affect the alcohol content. Light rums are ideal for mixing in cocktails and are a staple in many tropical drinks.

Gold Rums

Gold rums, also known as amber rums, have a deeper color and flavor than light rums. They are aged for a longer time, which gives them a richer taste and aroma. Gold rums are perfect for sipping or mixing in cocktails that require a more robust flavor.

Dark Rums

Dark rums are aged for the longest time and have the richest flavor and color of all the types of Caribbean rums. They are usually aged in charred oak barrels, which gives them a smoky, woody flavor. Dark rums are ideal for sipping straight or mixing in cocktails that require a bold flavor.

Spiced Rums

Spiced rums are flavored with spices and natural herbs. They have a sweet and spicy flavor that can be attributed to spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Because of these enhanced flavors, spiced rums are used in cocktails. During holidays, such as Christmas, they are used in hot toddies and other warm drinks.

Aged Rums

Aged rums are the most complex and expensive of all the types of Caribbean rums. They are aged for several years, which gives them a smooth, mellow flavor and aroma. Aged rums are perfect for sipping straight or on the rocks and are often compared to fine cognacs and whiskeys. Aged rums can be very expensive and may be sold as limited edition and collectors’ items.

Major Rum-Producing Islands

The Caribbean is widely known for its production of high-quality rums. Each island has its own unique style and flavor, making it a favorite among rum enthusiasts. Here are some of the major rum-producing islands in the Caribbean.


Barbados holds the honor of being the birthplace of rum. The island has been producing the beverage for over 350 years. Mount Gay Distillery, which is still in operation today, first started rum production in 1703. The process to produce rum in Barbados varies, but most distilleries use either pot stills, column stills or a combination of both, to create delicious rums. Barbadian rums are known for their balance of sweetness and spice, making them perfect for mixing in cocktails.


Jamaica’s rum story began in 1749, hundreds of years after the Spanish brought the first sugarcane plants to the island. The thriving sugar cane industry helped to develop a strong rum production industry that became one of the island’s largest sources of revenue. Today, Jamaica’s rums, which are known for their high levels of ester, fruity and rich, which makes them a good base for cocktails and mixers.


Cuba has been growing sugarcane since the early 1500s. However, it is not clear when the island started to produce rum. Today, the most popular rums in Cuba are light and smooth rums. Like other islands, rum is made using molasses and goes through an aging process. Cuban rums are known for their subtle sweetness and hints of vanilla, making them perfect for sipping or mixing in cocktails.

Puerto Rico

The origins of rum production in Puerto Rico began in 1506 when Ponce de Leon introduced the sugarcane plant to the island. After a few hundred years of a successful sugar cane trade, the island’s first rum producer began operations in 1880. Today, Puerto Rico’s rums make up 70% of rum sales in the United States. Additionally, the rum industry generates $300 million annually and employs over 700 people. Puerto’s Rico’s rums are prized for their light and clean flavours, and strict quality standards.


The story of rum in the Caribbean also includes a chapter in Martinique. The island started its rum making industry in the 17th century because of increased competition for sugar. Martinique’s rums use the agricole method, which means that rum is produced from sugarcane juice and not molasses. The French government monitors rum production on the island. Because Martinican rums are of a high quality, they were awarded the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) designation.

How Rum Is Made

Rum production involves fermenting sugarcane juice or molasses, distilling the resulting wash, and aging and blending the rum to create unique flavors and aromas. The type of still used and the length of aging can greatly affect the final product.


Fermentation is the process of converting sugarcane juice or molasses into alcohol. Yeast is added to the sugar solution, which then ferments for a few days to a few weeks. During this process, the yeast consumes the sugar and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. The resulting liquid is a “wash”, which has around 5-10% alcohol by volume.


Distillation is the process of separating the alcohol from the water and other impurities in the wash. The wash is heated in a still, which causes the alcohol to vaporize. The vapor is then cooled and condensed back into a liquid, which is collected in a separate container. This process is typically repeated multiple times to increase the alcohol concentration. The resulting liquid is called “rum.”

There are two types of stills commonly used in rum production: column stills and pot stills. Column stills are tall, industrial-sized stills that produce a lighter, more neutral rum. Pot stills, on the other hand, are smaller and produce a more flavorful, full-bodied rum.

Aging and Blending

Aging is the process of maturing the rum in barrels made of oak or other woods. The barrels are charred on the inside, which gives the rum its color and flavor. The longer the rum is aged, the more complex and flavorful it becomes. Blending is the process of combining rums of different ages and flavors to create a unique blend.

Different types of rum are aged for different lengths of time. White or silver rum is typically aged for a year or less, while gold or amber rum is aged for two to three years. Dark or black rum is aged for three or more years and has a more intense flavor and aroma.

Cultural Significance of Rum

Rum has played a significant role in shaping the cultural identity of the Caribbean. Its deep roots lie in the sugarcane fields and its reach extends to celebrations, traditions and of course, Caribbean culture. Rum is a remarkable symbol that is always present in some form or the other in Caribbean life.

Rum in Local Traditions

Rum has been an integral part of local traditions in the Caribbean for centuries. In many Caribbean countries, rum features heavily in religious ceremonies. Some examples are the Vodou religion in Haiti and the Santeria religion in Cuba. Rum is also a main ingredient in many traditional Caribbean dishes, such as rum cake, rum sauce, and rum punch.

In addition, rum is a central component of many Caribbean festivals and celebrations, such as Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago and Crop Over in Barbados. These festivals are famous because of their lively music, colorful costumes, and, of course, the abundance of rum.

Rum in the Global Spirits Market

Rum is not only significant in the Caribbean, but its popularity is also growing in the global spirits market. It is one of the most widely consumed spirits in the world, and markets such as Asia and Europe are demanding more of the product. The global rum market, which was valued at USD 12 billion in 2022, is expected to grow steadily in the coming years. This growth is being driven by increasing demand for premium and super-premium rums.

Rums of the Caribbean

Here is a list of rum distilleries in the Caribbean and the rum brands they produce.

Antigua and Barbuda

The rum distilleries in Antigua and Barbuda and their rums are:

Antigua Distillery

  • Cavalier
  • English Harbour

Academy of Rum

  • Galleon Beach Rum


The rum distilleries in the Bahamas and their Bahamian rums are:

Bahamas Distilling Company

  • Floating Pig Spiced Rum
  • Hammered Coconut Rum
  • Marlin White Rum
  • Iguana Gold Rum
  • Bassett’s Single Barrel Rum

John Watling’s Distillery

  • Amber Rum
  • Buena Vista Rum
  • Pale Rum
  • Single Barrel Rum

Luna Rum Distillery

  • Brilliant Banana Rum
  • Captivating Coconut Rum
  • Passionate Pineapple Rum

Todhunter-Mitchell Distillery (Commonwealth Brewery)

  • Ole Nassau Rum


The rum distilleries in Barbados and their Barbados rums are:

Foursquare Rum Distillery

  • Bristol Classic Rum
  • Clifton Hall Great House Rum
  • Diadem Single Blended Rum
  • Doorly’s Barbados Rum
  • E.S.A. Field Barbados White Rum
  • Foursquare Spiced Rum
  • Golden Cask Rum
  • Hereditas
  • Kill Devil Single Cask Rum
  • Mystique
  • N.A.S 15 Year Old Rum
  • Old Brigand Barbados Rum
  • Rum Sponge

Mount Gay Rum Distillery

  • Andean Oak Cask
  • Black Barrel
  • Black Barrel Cask Strength
  • Eclipse
  • Single Estate Series
  • Silver
  • Madeira Cask Expression
  • Port Cask Expression
  • Pot Still Rum
  • PX Sherry Cask Expression
  • XO
  • XO Peak Smoke Expression

St Nicholas Abbey

  • 5-Year-Old Single Cask
  • 8-Year-Old Commemorative Single Cask
  • 18-Year-Old Rare Single Cask
  • 23-Year-Old Rare Special Reserve
  • White Rum

West Indies Rum Distillery Ltd.

  • Balla Spiced Rum
  • Bumbu Original Craft Rum
  • Bumbu XO Rum
  • Cockspur 12 (V.S.O.R)
  • Cockspur Five Star
  • Cockspur Old Gold
  • Cockspur Overproof
  • Cockspur Pineapple Coconut Splash
  • Cockspur Passionfruit Guava
  • Cockspur Platinum Rum
  • Cockspur Splash Citrus Mango
  • Cockspur XO
  • Malibu Caribbean Rum with Coconut Liquer
  • Planteray Cut & Dry Coconut Rum
  • Plantation Rum Grande Reserve
  • Plantation Rum XO
  • Rum Sixty Six
  • Stade’s Rum

British Virgin Islands

The rum distilleries in the British Virgin Islands and their rums are:

Callwood Rum Distillery

  • Arundel Cane Rum
  • 10 Year Aged Brown Rum
  • Brown Rum
  • White Rum

Pusser’s Rum Ltd. 

  • Aged 15 Years
  • Blue Label Original Admiralty Rum
  • Gunpowder Proof Black Label Dark Rum
  • Spiced Gunpowder Proof Black Label Dark Rum

Cayman Islands

The rum distilleries and rum brands in the Cayman Islands are:

Cayman Spirits Company Distillery

  • Governor’s Reserve Rum
  • Seven Fathoms
  • Edward Teach

Tortuga Rum Company Ltd.

  • Tortuga Cayman Rum


The rum distilleries and rums in Cuba are:

Havana Club Rum Distillery

  • Havana Club 7 YO Añejo
  • 15 YO Gran Reserva

Ronera Cardenas

  • Perla Del Norte
  • Legendario
  • Arecha

Nauyú Distillery

  • Varadero
  • Santero Vigia
  • Black Tears

Nave Don Panco Distillery

  • Ron Varadero

Paraíso Distillery

  • Santero
  • Relicario
  • Caribbean Club
  • Varadero
  • Mulata
  • Santísima Trinidad

Romero Central

  • Cubay
  • Eminente

Ron Sevilla Factory

  • Conde de Cuba

San José Distillery

  • Havana Club

Santa Cruz del Norte Rum Distillery

  • Havana Club

Santa Fe Distillery

  • Mulata
  • Vacilón

Santiago de Cuba Rum Factory

  • Isla del Tesoro
  • Caney
  • Santiago de Cuba
  • Varadero

Dominican Republic

The rum distilleries and the rums they produce in the Dominican Republic are:

Alcoholes Finos Dominicanos

  • Barcelo
  • Yazoo

Brugal Rum Distillery

  • Brugal 1988
  • Colleccion Visionaria
  • Maestro Reserva
  • Andres Brugal
  • Extra Viejo


  • Bermúdez
  • Brugal
  • Matusalem
  • Candela Mamajuana
  • Siboney
  • Oliver
  • Macorix


The rum distilleries in Grenada and their rums are:

River Antoine Estate Distillery

  • Rivers

Grenada Distillers Ltd.

  • Clarke’s Court Distillery

Westerhall Estate Distillery

  • 10XO
  • Gold Rum
  • Dark Rum No.7
  • Light Rum No. 3
  • 12 Degrees Clear
  • White Jack Rum
  • Jack Iron Rum

Renegade Rum Distillery

  • Renegade


The rum distilleries and the rums they produce in Guadeloupe are:


  • Domaine de Bellevue

Bellevue au Moule

  • Damoiseau


  • Bielle


  • Bologne


  • Longueteau
  • Karukera


  • Montebello

Papa Rouyo

  • Papa Rouyo


  • Pére Labat


  • Reimonenq

S.I.S. Bonne

  • Molasses
  • Darboussier


The rum distilleries in Haiti and their rums are:

Barbancourt Rum Distillery

  • Rhum Barbancourt

Berling S.A.

  • Vieux Labbé

La Distillerie 1716

  • Rum 1716


The rum distilleries in Jamaica and their Jamaican rums are:


  • Appleton
  • J. Wray
  • Nephew


  • Monymusk

Hampden Estate

  • Hampden Estate
  • Rum Fire

Long Pond

  • Monymusk

New Yarmouth

  • Wray & Nephew
  • Coruba

Worthy Park

  • Worthy Park
  • Rum-Bar


The rum distilleries in Martinique and their rums are:

Depaz Martinique

  • Depaz
  • Dillon

Distillerie A1710

  • A1710

Fonds Préville

  • Rhum J.M
  • Habitation Beauséjour
  • Rhum HBS

La Favorite

  • La Favorite

La Mauny

  • La Mauny
  • Trois Rivières
  • Duquesne

Le Galion

  • Le Galion


  • Neisson

Saint James

  • Rhum St. James
  • J. Bally
  • Madkaud


  • Clement
  • HSE

Puerto Rico

The rum distilleries and rums in Puerto Rico are:

Casa Bacardi Distillery

  • Bacardi

La Destileria Craft Spirits

  • Bohique
  • 106 Rum
  • Pito Rico Authentic

Destilería Serrallés, Inc.

  • Don Q

Ron del Barrilito

  • Ron del Barrilito

Club Caribe Destillers

  • Club Caribe Rum

Saint Kitts and Nevis

The rum distilleries and rums in Saint Kitts and Nevis are:

Baron Edmond de Rothschild Distillery Ltd.

  • Belmont Estate Rum

Old Road Rum Distillery

  • Old Road Rum

Saint Lucia

The sole rum distillery in Saint Lucia and its rums are:

Saint Lucia Distillers

  • Chairman’s Reserve Rum
  • Bounty Rum
  • Rum 1931[1]
  • Rum Admiral Rodney
  • TOZ rum

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

The sole rum distillery in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the rums it produces are:

St. Vincent Distillers Ltd.

  • Sunset
  • Captain Bligh
  • Sparrow’s

Sint Maarten

The rums and rum distilleries in Sint Maarten are:

Topper’s Rhum Distillery

  • Topper’s Rhum

Sint Maarten Distillery

  • Soualiga Rum

Trinidad and Tobago

The sole rum distillery in Trinidad and Tobago and the rums it produces are:

Trinidad Distillers

  • Angostura Rums
  • Fernandes Rums
  • Island Company Rum
  • Kraken Rum

US Virgin Islands

The distilleries in the United States Virgin Islands and the rums they produce are:  Diageo subsidiary Captain Morgan and Beam Suntory subsidiary Virgin Islands Rum Industries, Inc. V.I.R.I. Inc. The two distilleries export in the form of intermodal tank containers at high proof and bottle elsewhere. V.I.R.I. Inc. has a proprietary brand Cruzan but produces a great variety of distributor brands.

A.H. Riise (St. Thomas)

  • XO Reserve
  • Royal Danish Navy
  • Ultra Premium
  • XO Rum Cream

Beam Suntory Virgin Islands Rum Industries Inc.

  • Cruzan 151°
  • Cruzan 9
  • Cruzan Rum Cream
  • Cruzan Velvet Cinn

Bones Rum (St. Thomas)

  • Bones Rum Aged
  • Bones Rum Spiced

Captain Morgan Distillery

  • Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold
  • Captain Morgan Dark Rum
  • Captain Morgan White Rum
  • Captain Morgan Black Spiced

H&L Distillery

  • Hamilton & Lafayette Rum

William Grant & Sons

  • Sailor Jerry

The cultural significance of rum in the Caribbean is undeniable. The beverage is a symbol of the region’s history, traditions, and way of life. When you sip a rum punch on a Caribbean beach or enjoy a premium Caribbean rum at a bar anywhere in the world, you must pause and appreciate the rich blend and craftmanship of the beverage in your hand.

Rum in the Caribbean

To learn more about the story of rum in the Caribbean, visit the following links:

National Geographic: Liquid sunshine: everything you should know about Caribbean rum
Island Routes: Rum in the Caribbean
Decanter: A Guide to Caribbean Rum
Afar: A Beginner’s Guide to the Dizzying World of Caribbean Rum 
The Crafty Cask: The Tumultuous, Economy-Building History of Rum
The Rum Lab: The Evolution of the Caribbean Rum Industry: A Deep Reflection with Patrick Mayers
Liquor: Decolonizing the Whitewashed World of Caribbean Rum
The Rum Company: The Best Rum Distilleries to Visit in the Caribbean
ShortList: The best rum: top rum brands put to the ultimate drinking test
Wikipedia: List of Rum Brands
Forbes: Exploring The World of Cuban Rum
Cocktail Wonk: Caribbean Rum Distilleries & Brands
Discover Puerto Rico: Visit the Rum Distilleries of Puerto Rico

Endless Caribbean - Pinterest - Rums of the Caribbean

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