Just last weekend, over a few homemade rum and ginger beers with our Aussie mates, we got to thinking about the history behind our favourite rums that inspired some of our most popular Still Spirits Aussie rum flavourings.
Firstly, what is rum?
Well, to many, it’s the drink of pirates and smugglers, linked to perilous journeys at sea and tropical Caribbean hideaways…but the process of making rum, well that’s a little more scientific!
But rum is defined by the Australian Distillers’ Association as a spirit obtained by the distillation of a fermented liquor derived from the products of sugar cane, with distillation being carried out in such a manner that the spirit possesses the taste, aroma and other characteristics generally attributed to rum. Additionally, for dark rum, it must be aged in barrels for no less than 2 years and bottled at no less than 40% alcohol (80 proof).
Note white rum does not undergo any aging process, however once distilled and diluted to 40% ABV (80 proof), it is best to leave it for a few days minimum so the flavours can stabilise.
The history of rum in Australia
Rum was first established 500 years ago by European colonists applying their own distilling techniques to sugarcane spirits in the Caribbean and the Americas. Now, rum is made in various styles and in over 100 countries across the world!
When the First Fleet arrived in Australia, the Royal Navy still distributed a daily rum ration (called a ‘tot’) and the spirit was so widespread, that it was even used as a currency in the early colony. When farmers discovered that sugarcane grew so well in the sunburnt country, it didn’t take long for the rum distilleries to follow…
The first batch of what is now known as Bundaberg Rum, was produced in 1889 - all 22,5000 gallons of it - and today, very few spirits are as widely spread across Australia.
How rum is made
There is no defined method of creating rum. However most rum is produced from molasses, which is made from processing sugarcane into sugar. For more on molasses production, click here.
The first step is fermentation, where yeast and water are added to molasses to produce a wash. It is then distilled in a pot or column still before being aged in barrels (if it’s dark rum) and then diluted down to bottling strength.
A rum's quality will ultimately depend on the quality and variety of the sugar cane that was used to create it - and how fresh it is – which is why you’ll find Australia’s famous rum distillery right near the sugar cane fields!
Create your own rum at home:
• Make your own from scratch, using our distiller’s rum wash recipe.
• Flavour neutral spirit or store-bought vodka from our Still Spirits flavourings range.
Fun Fact - The Dark and Stormy Cocktail:
A highball made of spicy ginger beer and Gosling's Black Seal dark rum, the drink allegedly got its name because it was likened to the colour of storm clouds.
It’s claimed to be the unofficial drink of Bermuda (where the Dark ‘n’ Stormy was invented) and is protected by trademarks owned by the Gosling family, who produce Gosling’s Black Seal Rum.
History has it that in the early 1800’s an early Gosling sailed from England, bound for Virginia but wound up instead for the nearest port which happened to be Bermuda. There, he used his family background in spirits to create the recipe for Gosling’s aged black rum. On another part of the island after World War I, British naval officers were brewing up ginger beer to combat sea sickness.
Technically speaking, a Dark and Stormy can only be made with Gosling’s Black Seal rum and Gosling’s Stormy ginger beer. So while we haven’t made the real thing, we’ve been inspired by the high seas to create our own Dusty Ginger Cocktail using our own Top Shelf Aussie Gold Rum Flavouring, some home made ginger Beer and a little extra tang from some lime juice.
Try our Dusty Ginger Cocktail:
• 50 mL Pre-mixed Still Spirits Top Shelf Aussie Gold Rum
• 20 mL Fresh lime juice
• Lime wedge
• Fill a glass with ice, squeeze in fresh lime juice.
• Fill with ginger beer.
• Top with Rum, to create the ‘storm’ effect.
• Garnish with a lime wedge.