Okay, so we’ll level you – Rum has a bit of a bad wrap. It’s viewed as a troublemaker and an upstart. In a Business Insider article titled “Bartenders reveal what customers’ drink orders say about them” rum gets a kicking. “If you order rum, bartender Kim Meyer told Business Insider you’ll look like a “frat boy.” We think that’s a bit harsh and while rum is not everyone’s first choice, its history and destiny should ensure it gets more respect than that. 

Let us convince you… 

The History of Rum

Rum has an incredible albeit sometimes shady history. Head back to the 1300s and you find mentions of ‘Sidhu’. A rum-like drink that was a gift to kings from Peter 1 of Cyprus given to other royal dignitaries at the Congress of Kraków. Jump forward to the 14th century and the Malay people (now modern-day Iran) and find ‘Brum’, a drink reported by Marco Polo as a “very good wine of sugarcane”.

Then head to the 17th-century plantations scattered across the West Indies and discover kill-divil or rumbullion (we’re almost there). Here slaves discovered that molasses could be fermented into alcohol. As described in 1651

“The chief fuddling they make in the island is Rumbullion, alias Kill-Divil, and this is made of sugar canes distilled, a hot, hellish, and terrible liquor.” 

There’s also some evidence that it came from Brazil and travelled with cultivation techniques of sugar cane as production and trade got going. The plantations and the sugarcane cultivation (whichever side of the fence you find yourself on) are the origins of Rum as we know it now.

Rum is the drink of Privateers, Soldiers, Slaves and Convicts – you know rebellious types.

But Rum’s history doesn’t stop there. Rum is entwined with travel by sea and given to those in need of comfort – think pirates and soldiers. Rum was the preferred drink of pirates and the British, Spanish and French navies. Sailors, legitimate or not, added the spirit to their water in an attempt to preserve the water – you can imagine how that ended. During the golden age of piracy, circa 1650 -1726, exotic goods and spices found their way across an ever-shrinking globe – rum was introduced to the world and the world found the inexpensive liquor much to its liking. 

Rum was rationed at 70ml twice a week for WW1 soldiers and even traded as coinage in colonial New South Wales. Adding to the budding reputation of convict Australia being rowdy and drunken. 

Looking through the distilled amber lens of the Rum glass, you can see a trend emerging. Rum is tied in so many ways to small but meaningful acts of rebellion: The drink of the downtrodden, the glowing warmth for the lower classes fighting in someone else’s war or comfort for the convict miles from the only home they had ever known. It could be called (and we agree) an ‘upstarts’ drink. 

Nil Desperandum Rum – Our thoughts on a new chapter 

Rum started a fire in the belly of so many. It certainly did in ours, which is why we made Nil Desperandum. Using Australia’s only commercial quantity of organic molasses, the finest methods including natural ‘wild’ fermentation, and our bespoke German copper stills, every bottle of Nil Desperandum is produced with Love, Art & Science… and just a dash of rebellion.

We think it’s time for our collective opinion to change towards rum. To welcome it at the table occupied by the snobs of whisky and bourbon, to give rum its seat and its due. Let it announce its lineage and its history with pride, pour a neat drop and savour it. 

Join us as we raise the glass and toast to; the privateer, the slave, the convict and the soldier. Rum is a troublemaker at heart and we’re proud of that heritage but its time has come.

So, will you join us in this new era of rum?

Secure your bottle of Nil Desperandum and join us at the table today.

Further reading and sources