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Distilled liquor made from sugarcane products, primarily molasses. It is first mentioned in records from Barbados c. 1650. Rum figured in the slave trade: slaves from Africa were traded in the West Indies for molasses, the molasses was made into rum in New England, and the rum was then traded to Africa for more slaves. British sailors received regular rum rations from the 18th century until the 1970s. Two major types are marketed. The light-bodied rums, traditionally of Puerto Rico and Cuba, employ cultivated yeast and are distilled in continuous-operation stills before being blended and aged one to four years. The heavier dark rums, traditionally of Jamaica, employ yeast spores from the air and are distilled in simple pot stills before being blended and aged five to seven years. Rum is drunk straight or mixed and is used in dessert sauces and other dishes.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on rum, visit Britannica.com.