An early alcoholic drink, rum has been around since ancient times. Nothing if not old, it is practically forced to walk with a (sugar) cane. Though it wasn’t first distilled in plantations until the 17th century, rum is believed to have existed thousands of years prior in the form of brum, a drink made by the Malay people. In the 14th century, Marco Polo (the explorer, not the swimming pool game) wrote about a wine made of sugar, giving further credence to the belief that rum was around before the 1600s.
When the first distillation of rum began, it began in the Caribbean when plantation slaves realized that molasses, left over from sugar refinement, could be turned into alcohol. This alcohol, however, was not well received… at least not at first. Like the beginning of most things, the beginning of rum was a little shaky and the spirit was dispirited to learn that it was initially thought to be a terrible tasting liquor.
Once the Caribbean set the rum ball in motion, it quickly spread to the American colonies. In 1664, the first distillery for rum was set up in what is now Staten Island; a distillery in Boston quickly followed.
New Englanders had a special penchant for making rum; not only was the rum industry their most profitable industry, but the rum they produced was considered to be of higher quality than all others.
An alcoholic drink determined to have a place in history – even the dark parts of history - rum was involved in the slave trade, as slaves, molasses, and rum were part of the triangular trade. When this trade was interrupted because of the 1764 Sugar Act, another straw was thrown on the American colonists' back. Thus, bottles of rum can often be overhead bragging to bottles of wine and bottles of whiskey that they were the reason for the American Revolution.