Rum of English tradition
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What is a rum of English tradition?
Traditional British rum is linked to colonial history, that is, to the colonizing country that most influenced rum production in a given location. Therefore, this tradition exists mostly in the former British colonies, such as Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad, Grenada, etc.
Traditional English rum is a traditional rum made from molasses and pot-still distillation. The iron still remains the hallmark of this style because it is rare elsewhere.
They are fairly dry rums, with little added sugar, and they have a rich but balanced character. Like almost everywhere else, ageing is usually done in old bourbon casks.
There are of course many exceptions. On the island of Trinidad and Tobago for example, we tend to produce lighter rums. In some distilleries in Grenada and Barbados, pure cane juice syrup is used, not molasses. Some islands now affiliated with France, such as Mauritius or Reunion, have a style that could be closer to the English tradition. This is also the case with rums from Belize, despite the country's situation in Central America.
The history of English rum
Even though it is suspected that the first distillation of sugar cane took place in the Portuguese colonies of Madeira, the Azores or Brazil, the first written records of rum distillation and trade have been found in Barbados, dating back to around 1630.
The first high quality rums also came from this island. In fact, in 1654, it was said that "the water of Barbados" was the best there. Jamaica also quickly made a name for itself, with a rum consistent quality and full of flavour.
The oldest official rum distillery still in operation, namely Mount Gay, founded in Barbados in 1703, has a British tradition.
The root of this success lies in the UK's know-how in distillation, as they were the ones who introduced the proven whisky technology, which is the double distillation in a tank still.
In the 18th century, the British West Indies largely dominated the rum world, with Barbados and Jamaica still leading the way.
At the end of the century, the French distilleries of Saint-Domingue surpassed them. Barbados, Jamaica, as well as Grenada, Antigua and Saint Kitts have exported in unprecedented ways and inundated Europe and North America with their powerful and aromatic rum, so that they can be diluted indefinitely.