The History of Rum in Scotland

Ally Hardy

Craft rums are well and truly on the rise in Scotland, with some experts predicting that the spirit could even follow in the footsteps of the ongoing gin revolution. But did you know there are some connections between rum and Scotland that date back as far as the 17th century? Here we’ll provide a brief history of this connection, and outline some of the latest Scottish craft rums for you to try!

Scotland’s Rum History

Before delving any further into rum’s ties with Scotland, we’ll first outline how rum is produced. Essentially, the spirit is made by distilling cane juice along with other by-products released during the processing of sugar. Rum was initially distilled by European Colonists and African slaves in the Caribbean as far back as the early 17th century and was then introduced to England via sailors and returning travellers from the West Indies.

This popularised the spirit across Britain, to the point where several refineries emerged in Glasgow across the 17th and 18th centuries because of this sugar boom. By the 18th and 19th centuries, rum punches were especially sought-after in Glasgow. The traditional beverage, the “Glasgow Sherbet”, was made with water, sugar, lemons and limes from the West Indies and later became the famous “Glasgow Punch” by adding rum imported from Jamaica into the punch bowls.

The growing popularity of rum and rum punches eventually led to Glasgow’s “Golden Age” of sugar, as transatlantic merchants shifted their focus towards sugar in the West Indies after the decline of the city’s tobacco trade with Virginia as a result of the American War of Independence in 1783. Consequently, the main trade of Glasgow following these events revolved around Caribbean products including rum, sugar and cotton.

Overall, the impact of these trades allowed Glasgow’s merchants to become extremely wealthy and the richest of their time. The merchants would regularly invest in property in the city centre area of Glasgow now known as Merchant City, with rum itself becoming the tipple of choice for the city’s upper class.

Scottish Rum Today

Now that we’ve outlined some of rum’s historical ties with Scotland, here are some of the latest craft rum producers emerging on the scene. From traditionally spiced rums to flavoured liqueurs, we’re sure you’ll find your new favourite from our selection below.

Spirit of Glasgow: Sugar House Rum

ABV: 43%  Bottle: 70 cl  Price: £36.50   

Based in the heart of Glasgow, Spirit of Glasgow was named not only as it produces handcrafted spirits but because the founders wanted to celebrate and give back to the community spirit that they believe the city thrives on. One of their first spirits produced, Sugar House Spiced Rum, is named after the original Sugar House producers of Scottish rum over 300 years ago.

Spirit of Glasgow's Sugar House Spiced Rum is a rich and complex spiced rum, infused with a blend of fine whole spices to give a smooth and sweet flavour without the need for any added sugar. Made entirely by hand in Scotland to ensure it is consistently good, the spiced rum is distilled in a pot still which allows the blend of spices and natural flavourings to infuse with the rum. These include Madagascan vanilla, Ceylon cinnamon, lime zest and cacao beans which are infused for several weeks.

We’d recommend that Sugar House Rum is best served over ice or as part of your favourite cocktail.

Sugar House Spiced Rum