A History of Rum


Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum! Ever wondered about the origins of every pirate’s favorite beverage? Where did it come from, and how has it maintained its hold on drinkers everywhere, even today? Let’s dive in!

Rum is made by fermenting and distilling the juice or molasses of sugarcane. The resulting distillate is then stored, usually in oak barrels. These days, rum is well-known as a cheap and cheerful party drink, but alcohol enthusiasts have also helped elevate the spirit’s reputation by sipping top-tier dark rum on the rocks.

The Origins of Rum

The origins of rum may go way, way back, even further than its high-seas legacy might lead you to believe. Vagbhata, an Indian physician in the 7th century AD, recommended a beverage of rum mixed with mango juice to a patient, instructing that it be shared among friends. Sounds like a prescription to party!

Rum—or something similar to it—is mentioned in early Sanskrit texts by ancient Malay people and medieval Cypriots. Even Marco Polo was offered a rum-like bevvy on his way through the region now known as Iran; the word is that he thoroughly enjoyed it!

Unfortunately, the later history of rum isn’t quite as easy to swallow as a pina colada on a hot summer’s day.

The first evidence of rum in its modern iteration was in the Caribbean in the 17th century, which is when things started to get a little dark. Slaves were imported to the West Indies and Americas from Africa’s ports, where they labored on sugarcane plantations, producing refined and highly valuable sugar.

It was soon discovered that molasses, a byproduct of the sugar refinement process, could be used to create a basic kind of alcohol. By the end of the 1600s, rum had exploded in popularity, replacing French brandy in the triangular trade.

Rum became a favorite of overseas traders and North American colonists alike. It was cheap, strong, and lasted for long periods—which is likely why it became such a hit with pirates, merchant marines, and other sea voyagers.

Sugarcane crops thrive in the Americas’ warm, equatorial climates, and just about every sugar-producing country makes it. In Hawaii, locally-grown sugarcane is used to make delicious rum in small batches. At Kona Gold, this is what we use as the base for our famous rum cakes.

Give Yourself a Break With Sweet Delights

Rum is popular everywhere in the world, but even those who don’t imbibe love rum’s rich flavor as it adds a layer of sweet intrigue to sweets, candies, and coffee.

Rum cake is a traditional holiday dessert, but why wait for a special occasion when you can enjoy authentic Kona-made rum cakes today? Paired with Kona Gold Buttered Rum Coffee, it’s truly a match made in heaven. Our single-estate Kona coffee beans are roasted to perfection, infused with the sweet richness of island-made rum. With ribbons of caramel, vanilla, and molasses, it’s the perfect pairing at any time of the day.

Kona Gold’s rum cakes are packed with fresh, locally-sourced fruits and macadamia nuts. They’re rich, sweet, and made fresh in our shop on the Big Island every day. With flavors like lilikoi (passion fruit), pineapple, Kona coffee espresso, and our signature macadamia nut, you might have a hard time deciding which one to try! Our variety pack solves the problem nicely, with three individually-wrapped rum cakes, perfect for gifting or sharing. You’ll be back for more – we guarantee it! Shop our collection today.