Ostensibly tracing the failures & fortunes of one family across the generations – it also captures the ups & downs of the British Empire through the involvement of that same family.
In doing so it details the centrality of the slave trade to British prosperity – the wars fought to maintain that wealth – and the role Rum played in holding it all together.
In the 18th Century Britain ruled the waves.
It’s ships exported manufactured goods, captured slaves from Africa to work the colonies in the Caribbean & N America & imported rum, sugar, coffee, cotton & tobacco from the exploitation of those slaves.
It made Britain – and all the other European powers involved – extremely rich.
The sailors on those ships were given a daily rum ration – not abolished until the 1970’s – and members of the authors family were central in procuring some of that rum – as well as overseeing the Jamaican colony where a lot of it came from.
The book is a fascinating insight into a dark period of human history where the complete subjugation & exploitation of one people for the unsustainable profits of another was deemed ‘good business’.
I just hope the rum I enjoyed while reading this book came about by a much more sustainable & equitable manner.
A highly recommended read that brings to life the horrors of the past & sheds some light on today’s travails.
I’d much rather have been at the live event – but COVID has moved us all online with the attendant technical glitches, slow response times & the sad loneliness of drinking alone in front of a computer screen.
It does however enable us to taste a wide variety of spirits, have the producers & brand owners tell their stories as well as allow some limited form of interaction.
A rather wet Saturday afternoon had me, my computer & 10 Scottish based rums ready to roll.
Rum is experiencing a bit of a boom. I’m on it because I enjoy it – it suits my palate.
Irish Rum meanwhile is a little behind the curve with only Ion & Blacks releasing Irish distilled rums to date.
I’d previously encountered this rum at the Fife Whiskey Show – I had the pleasure of attending just before lockdown – and it was a joy to re-experience it’s crisp , clear & slightly smoky funky appeal. Distilled just outside Edinburgh on direct fired alembic stills & aged in whiskey casks.
This Fife based company imports their rum mainly from Barbados & does the final processing & marketing of the brand in Scotland.
An easy & accessible sweet rum.
The Rum Festival had a highly informative discussion with Dave Broom & Dr Stanley Mullen exploring the Scottish connection with the slave trade, sugar, rum & the whole imperialist domination of the Caribbean that built much of the wealth currently enjoyed in Scotland – and the West in general – today.
As an interlude – here’s a wonderful blend of Caribbean & Scottish musical culture.
Now I must admit spiced spirits are not my scene – it’s the art of distillation I’m more interested in – so this offering from Glasgow Distillery – apart from the entertaining history attributable to the brand – was a bit of a diversion for me.
Five Hundred Cuts would be an aptly named Tory election manifesto – but here is another spiced rum alluring to the variety of botanicals used in the mix. Brewdog are expanding far beyond their beer range with this spiced offering.