Colonial Rum Production
    As strange as it sounds, colonial America, particularly the New England colonies (later to become states) of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, were known for their production of high quality rum.  From the seventeenth century through the mid-eighteenth century, Massachusetts and Rhode Island rum was know as one of the best produced rums in the world.
 
    In the mid-1760's, Massachusetts had over 63 separate rum distilleries, while Rhode Island, obviously a much smaller state, had 22 distilleries of it's own.  Most of the distilleries in Massachusetts were found in either the town of Salem or in and just outside the city of Boston.  

    Rum production in colonial New England was a key factor in the economy.  As a matter of fact, it is even conceivable to say that rum was the basis for New England's entry into the textile industry.  Without the money generated by New England's part in the triangular atlantic slave trade, many of the early textile mills would not have been financed.  This is also due to the fact that there were very few slaves to be found in New England and without the slave labor industrialization would have been very difficult without the money generated from the trade of rum.

    Rum productioin also played a large role in the shipbuilding industry of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  Medford, Massachusetts was a particularly large center for ship building.  The ships that were built in Medford at that time were used mainly for New England's participation in the triangle trade.  The ships would set sail out of many ports in Massachusetts and Rhode Island including, Bristol, Newport, and Boston.

   There were two form of rum that were produced in colonial America.  The first type was plain rum just as we know it today and the second in know as tafia.  Tafia was a by-product of sugar production.  This was primarily manufactured by the French colonials and consumed mostly by the domestic market. The straight rum that was produced in Massachusetts and Rhode Island was a of a high quality and was used for personal consumption, trade and even as a form of currency in some areas.  The key ingredients in the production of rum are sugar and molasses.  Since colonial sugar production was far from efficient it was one of the key items that was traded for as part of the triangle trade along with molasses.
 

Home