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It is difficult to categorize rum as a single spirit, because of all the spirits found around the globe, rum is perhaps the one which varies most dramatically from place to place. Clear, white rum - a favorite for cocktail drinkers - is perhaps the most prevalent example found today, but there is a whole world of darker, spiced and molasses-rich rums to explore, thanks to the fascinating history and wide reach this drink has.
Rum came about during the colonial times, when sugar was a huge and world-changing business. The molasses left over from the sugar production industry could easily be distilled into a delicious alcoholic drink, and provided extra income for the sugar traders. Before long, it became a favorite of sailors and transatlantic merchants, and it quickly spread across the Caribbean and Latin America, where it remains highly popular today.
The production of rum is a basic and simple one - you take your molasses, add yeast and water, and then ferment and distil the mixture. However, as is often the case, the devil is in the detail. The variation in yeasts found from place to place, the maturation period, the length of the fermentation and the type of stills and barrels used provide the rainbow-colored variation that gives rum its spectrum of styles and characteristics.