The derivation of the word rum is obscure. One theory is that it came from the Latin word for sugar, saccharum, but it may just as well have resulted from someone attempting to pronounce his own name after imbibing too much of this deceptively powerful liquor. Barbados and Puerto Rico both claim to have invented rum in the seventeenth century. Within a century there were nearly 160 distilleries in New England alone. Rumbullion or Kill Divill, as rum was called in colonial times, is made from sugar cane that is crushed, boiled down into molasses, fermented, and then distilled. All rum is aged for at least two and up to ten years, longer for añejo, or “aged” rum. Light (or silver) rum is clear, while medium (or gold) rum is slightly darker due to aging or the addition of caramel. Dark rum is the result of longer aging and more caramel, creating a heavier, more aromatic liquor. Modern distilleries are experimenting with the addition of spices and other aromatics. Last, there is the prodigious 151-proof, which could immobilize a fully grown elephant.
from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com