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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A selection of rum offered at a liquor store in Decatur, Georgia.
Government House rum, manufactured by the Virgin Islands Company distillery, circa 1941.

Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses and sugarcane juice by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak and other barrels.

The majority of the world's rum production occurs in and around the Caribbean and in several Central American and South American countries, such as Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Puerto Rico, and Brazil. There are also rum producers in places such as Australia, Fiji, the Philippines, India, Reunion Island, Mauritius, and elsewhere around the world.

Light rums are commonly used in cocktails, whereas golden and dark rums are also appropriate for drinking straight, or for cooking. Premium rums are also available that are made to be consumed straight or with ice.

Rum plays a part in the culture of most islands of the West Indies, and has famous associations with the Royal Navy (See: Grog) and piracy (See: Bumbo). Rum has also served as a popular medium of exchange that helped to promote slavery along with providing economic instigation for Australia's Rum Rebellion and the American Revolution.[1]



The origin of the word rum is generally unclear. Rum is a blunt, Anglo-Saxonlike name. In an 1824 essay about the word's origin, Samuel Morewood, a British etymologist, suggested that it might be from the British slang term for "the best," as in "having a rum time." He wrote that

"As spirits, extracted from molasses, could not well be ranked under the name whiskey, brandy, or arack, it would be called rum, to denote its excellence or superior quality." -Samuel Morewood[2]

Given the harsh taste of early rum, this is unlikely. Morewood later suggested another possibility: that it was taken from the last syllable of the Latin word for sugar, saccharum, an explanation that is commonly heard today.[2] It should be noted though, that the -um is a very common noun ending in Latin, and plenty of Latin word roots end in r, so in reality, one could apply this logic to a plethora of Latin words to draw the link.

Other etymologists have mentioned the Romani word rum, meaning "strong" or "potent." These words have been linked to the ramboozle and rumfustian, both popular British drinks in the mid-seventeenth century. However, neither was made with rum, but rather eggs, ale, wine, sugar, and various spices. The most probable origin is as a truncated version of rumbullion or rumbustion."[3] Both words surfaced in English about the same time as rum did, and were slang terms for "tumult" or "uproar." This is a far more convincing explanation, and brings the image of fractious men fighting in entanglements at island tippling houses, which are early versions of the bar.[2]

Another claim is that the name is from the large drinking glasses used by Dutch seamen known as rummers, from the Dutch word roemer, a drinking glass.[4] Other options include contractions of the words saccharum, Latin for sugar, or arôme, French for aroma.[5] Regardless of the original source, the name was already in common use by May 1657 when the General Court of Massachusetts made illegal the sale of strong liquor "whether knowne by the name of rumme, strong water, wine, brandy, etc."[5]

In current usage, the name used for a rum is often based on the rum's place of origin. For rums from Spanish-speaking locales the word ron is used. A ron añejo indicates a rum that has been significantly aged and is often used for premium products. Rhum is the term used for rums from French-speaking locales, while rhum vieux is an aged French rum that meets several other requirements.

Some of the many other names for rum are Nelson's Blood, Kill-Devil, Demon Water, Pirate's Drink, Navy Neaters, and Barbados water.[6] A version of rum from Newfoundland is referred to by the name Screech, while some low-grade West Indies rums are called tafia.[7]



The precursors to rum date back to antiquity. Development of fermented drinks produced from sugarcane juice is believed to have first occurred either in ancient India or China,[3] and spread from there. An example of such an early drink is brum. Produced by the Malay people, brum dates back thousands of years.[8] Marco Polo also recorded a 14th-century account of a "very good wine of sugar" that was offered to him in what is modern-day Iran.[3]

The first distillation of rum took place on the sugarcane plantations of the Caribbean in the 17th century. Plantation slaves first discovered that molasses, a by-product of the sugar refining process, can be fermented into alcohol.[9] Later, distillation of these alcoholic by-products concentrated the alcohol and removed impurities, producing the first true rums. Tradition suggests that rum first originated on the island of Barbados.

A 1651 document from Barbados stated, "The chief fuddling they make in the island is Rumbullion, alias Kill-Divil, and this is made of sugar canes distilled, a hot, hellish, and terrible liquor".[9]

Colonial America

Pirates carrying rum to shore to purchase slaves as depicted in The Pirates Own Book by Charles Ellms

After rum's development in the Caribbean, the drink's popularity spread to Colonial North America. To support the demand for the drink, the first rum distillery in the British colonies of North America was set up in 1664 on present-day Staten Island. Boston, Massachusetts had a distillery three years later.[10] The manufacture of rum became early Colonial New England's largest and most prosperous industry.[11] New England became a distilling center due to the superior technical, metalworking and cooperage skills and abundant lumber; the rum produced there was lighter, more like whiskey, and was superior to the character and aroma of the West Indies product.[citation needed] Rhode Island rum even joined gold as an accepted currency in Europe for a period of time.[12] Estimates of rum consumption in the American colonies before the American Revolutionary War had every man, woman, or child drinking an average of 3 Imperial gallons (13.5 liters) of rum each year.[13]

To support this demand for the molasses to produce rum, along with the increasing demand for sugar in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, a labor source to work the sugar plantations in the Caribbean was needed. A triangular trade was established between Africa, the Caribbean, and the colonies to help support this need.[14] The exchange of slaves, molasses, and rum was quite profitable, and the disruption to the trade caused by the Sugar Act in 1764 may have even helped cause the American Revolution.[13]

The popularity of rum continued after the American Revolution, with George Washington insisting on a barrel of Barbados rum at his 1789 inauguration.[15]

Rum started to play an important role in the political system, since the outcome of an election usually depended on the candidate’s generosity with rum. The people would vote for incompetent candidates simply because they provided more rum. They would attend the election to see which candidate appeared less stingy with their rum. The candidate was expected to drink with the people to show that he was independent and truly a republican. In a Mississippi election, one candidate poured his drinks and socialized with the people. He was more personal and it appeared as if he was going to win. The other candidate announced that he would not be pouring their drinks and they could have as much as they wanted; because he appeared more generous, he won. This shows that colonial voters were not concerned with what the candidate represented or stood for; they were merely looking for who would provide the most rum.[16]

Eventually the restrictions on rum from the British islands of the Caribbean, combined with the development of American whiskey, led to a decline in the drink's popularity.

Naval Rum

WRNS serving rum to a sailor from a tub inscribed 'THE KING GOD BLESS HIM'

Rum's association with piracy began with English privateers trading on the valuable commodity. As some of the privateers became pirates and buccaneers, their fondness for rum remained, the association between the two only being strengthened by literary works such as Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.[17]

The association of rum with the Royal Navy began in 1655 when the British fleet captured the island of Jamaica. With the availability of domestically produced rum, the British changed the daily ration of liquor given to seamen from French brandy to rum.[18] While the ration was originally given neat, or mixed with lime juice, the practice of watering down the rum began around 1740. To help minimize the effect of the alcohol on his sailors, Admiral Edward Vernon directed that the rum ration be watered down before being issued, a mixture which became known as grog. While it is widely believed that the term grog was coined at this time in honor of the grogram cloak Admiral Vernon wore in rough weather,[19] the term has been demonstrated to predate his famous orders, with probable origins in the West Indies, perhaps of African etymology (see Grog). The Royal Navy continued to give its sailors a daily rum ration, known as a "tot," until the practice was abolished after July 31, 1970.[20] Today the rum ration (tot) is still issued on special occasions by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II order "Splice the mainbrace"! Such recent occasions have been Royal marriages/Birthdays, special anniversaries. Splice the main brace in the days of the daily ration meant double rations that day.

A story involving naval rum is that following his victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, Horatio Nelson's body was preserved in a cask of rum to allow transport back to England. Upon arrival, however, the cask was opened and found to be empty of rum. The pickled body was removed and, upon inspection, it was discovered that the sailors had drilled a hole in the bottom of the cask and drunk all the rum, in the process drinking Nelson's blood. Thus, this tale serves as a basis for the term Nelson's Blood being used to describe rum. It also serves as the basis for the term "Tapping the Admiral" being used to describe drinking the daily rum ration. The details of the story are disputed, as many historians claim the cask contained French brandy whilst others claim instead the term originated from a toast to Admiral Nelson.[21] It should be noted that variations of the story, involving different notable corpses, have been in circulation for many years.[22]

The Royal New Zealand Navy is the last naval force left in the world that still gives its sailors a free tot of rum.

Colonial Australia

Beenleigh Rum Distillery, on the banks of the Albert River near Brisbane, Australia, circa 1912
See Also: Rum Rebellion

Rum became an important trade good in the early period of the colony of New South Wales. The value of rum was based upon the lack of coinage among the population of the colony, and due to the drink's ability to allow its consumer to temporarily forget about the lack of creature comforts available in the new colony. The value of rum was such that convict settlers could be induced to work the lands owned by officers of the New South Wales Corps. Due to rum's popularity among the settlers, the colony gained a reputation for drunkenness even though their alcohol consumption was less than levels commonly consumed in England at the time.[23]

When William Bligh became governor of the colony in 1806, he attempted to remedy the perceived problem with drunkenness by outlawing the use of rum as a medium of exchange. In response to this action, and several others, the New South Wales Corps marched, with fixed bayonets, to Government House and placed Bligh under arrest. The mutineers continued to control the colony until the arrival of Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1810.[24]


Dividing rum into meaningful groupings is complicated by the fact that there is no single standard for what constitutes rum. Instead rum is defined by the varying rules and laws of the nations that produce the spirit. The differences in definitions include issues such as spirit proof, minimum aging, and even naming standards.

Examples of the differences in proof is Colombia, requiring their rum possess a minimum alcohol content of 50 ABV, while Chile and Venezuela require only a minimum of 40 ABV. Mexico requires rum be aged a minimum of 8 months; the Dominican Republic, Panama and Venezuela require two years. Naming standards also vary. Argentina defines rums as white, gold, light, and extra light. Barbados uses the terms white, overproof, and matured, while the United States defines rum, rum liqueur, and flavored rum.[25] In Australia Rum is divided into Dark Rum (Under Proof known as UP, Over Proof known as OP, and triple distilled) and White Rum.

Despite these differences in standards and nomenclature, the following divisions are provided to help show the wide variety of rums that are produced.

Regional variations

The Bacardi building in Havana, Cuba

Within the Caribbean, each island or production area has a unique style. For the most part, these styles can be grouped by the language that is traditionally spoken. Due to the overwhelming influence of Puerto Rican rum, most rum consumed in the United States is produced in the Spanish-speaking style.

  • French-speaking islands are best known for their agricultural rums (rhum agricole). These rums, being produced exclusively from sugar cane juice, retain a greater amount of the original flavor of the sugar cane and are generally more expensive than molasses-based rums. Rums from Haïti, Guadeloupe, Marie-Galante and Martinique are typical of this style.

Cachaça is a spirit similar to rum that is produced in Brazil. (Some countries, including the United States, classify cachaça as a type of rum.) Seco, from Panama, is also a spirit similar to rum, but also similar to vodka, since it is triple distilled. The Indonesian spirit Batavia Arrack, or Arrak, is a spirit similar to rum that includes rice in its production.[26] Mexico produces a number of brands of light and dark rum, as well as other less expensive flavored and unflavored sugar cane based liquors, such as aguardiente de caña and charanda. In some cases cane liquor is flavored with mezcal to produce a pseudo-tequila-like drink.[citation needed]

A spirit known as Aguardiente, distilled from molasses and often infused with anise, with additional sugarcane juice added after distillation, is produced in Central America and northern South America.[27]

In West Africa, and particularly in Liberia, cane juice (also known as Liberian rum[28] or simply CJ within Liberia itself,[29] is a cheap, strong spirit distilled from sugar cane, which can be as strong as 86 proof.[30] A refined cane spirit has also been produced in South Africa since the 1950s.

Within Europe, a similar spirit made from sugar beet is known as tuzemák (from tuzemský rum, domestic rum) in the Czech Republic and Kobba Libre on the Åland Islands.[citation needed]

In Germany, a cheap substitute of genuine dark rum is called Rum-Verschnitt (literally: blended rum). This distilled beverage is made of genuine dark rum (often from Jamaica), rectified spirit, and water. Very often, caramel coloring is used, too. The relative amount of genuine rum it contains can be quite low since the legal minimum is at only 5 percent, but the taste of Rum-Verschnitt is still very similar to genuine dark rum. In Austria, a similar rum called Inländerrum or domestic rum is available. However, Austrian Inländerrum is always a spiced rum, (brand example: Stroh) German Rum-Verschnitt, in contrast, is never spiced or flavored.


Example of dark, spiced, and light rums.

The grades and variations used to describe rum depend on the location that a rum was produced. Despite these variations the following terms are frequently used to describe various types of rum:

  • Light Rums, also referred to as silver rums and white rums. In general, light rum has very little flavor aside from a general sweetness, and serves accordingly as a base for cocktails. Light rums are sometimes filtered after aging to remove any color. The Brazilian Cachaça is generally this type, but some varieties are more akin to "gold rums". The majority of Light Rum comes out of Puerto Rico. Their milder flavor makes them popular for use in mixed-drinks, as opposed to drinking it straight.
  • Gold Rums, also called amber rums, are medium-bodied rums which are generally aged. These gain their dark color from aging in wooden barrels (usually the charred white oak barrels that are the byproduct of Bourbon Whiskey). They have more flavor, and are stronger tasting than Silver Rum, and can be considered a midway-point between Silver/Light Rum and the darker varieties.
  • Spiced Rum: These rums obtain their flavor through addition of spices and, sometimes, caramel. Most are darker in color, and based on gold rums. Some are significantly darker, while many cheaper brands are made from inexpensive white rums and darkened with artificial caramel color.
  • Dark Rum, also known as black rum, classes as a grade darker than gold rum. It is generally aged longer, in heavily charred barrels. Dark rum has a much stronger flavor than either light or gold rum, and hints of spices can be detected, along with a strong molasses or caramel overtone. It is used to provide substance in rum drinks, as well as color. In addition to uses in mixed drinks, dark rum is the type of rum most commonly used in cooking. Most Dark Rum comes from areas such as Jamaica, Haiti, and Martinique, though two Central American countries, Nicaragua and Guatemala, produced two of the most award-winning dark rums in the world: Flor de Caña and Ron Zacapa Centenario, respectively.[31]
  • Flavored Rum: Some manufacturers have begun to sell rums which they have infused with flavors of fruits such as mango, orange, citrus, coconut or lime. These serve to flavor similarly themed tropical drinks which generally comprise less than 40% alcohol, and are also often drank neat or on the rocks.
  • Overproof Rum is rum which is much higher than the standard 40% alcohol. Most of these rums bear greater than 75%, in fact, and preparations of 151 to 160 proof occur commonly.
  • Premium Rum: As with other sipping spirits, such as Cognac and Scotch, a market exists for premium and super-premium rums. These are generally boutique brands which sell very aged and carefully produced rums. They have more character and flavor than their "mixing" counterparts, and are generally consumed without the addition of other ingredients.

Production method

Unlike some other spirits, such as Cognac and Scotch, rum has no defined production methods. Instead, rum production is based on traditional styles that vary between locations and distillers.


Sugarcane is harvested to make sugarcane juice and molasses.

Most rum produced is made from molasses. Within the Caribbean, much of this molasses is from Brazil.[15] A notable exception is the French-speaking islands where sugarcane juice is the preferred base ingredient.[3]

Yeast and water are added to the base ingredient to start the fermentation process. While some rum producers allow wild yeast to perform the fermentation, most use specific strains of yeast to help provide a consistent taste and predictable fermentation time.[32] Dunder, the yeast-rich foam from previous fermentations, is the traditional yeast source in Jamaica.[33] "The yeast employed will determine the final taste and aroma profile," says Jamaican master blender Joy Spence.[3] Distillers that make lighter rums, such as Bacardi, prefer to use faster-working yeasts.[3] Use of slower-working yeasts causes more esters to accumulate during fermentation, allowing for a fuller-tasting rum.[32]


As with all other aspects of rum production, there is no standard method used for distillation. While some producers work in batches using pot stills, most rum production is done using column still distillation.[32] Pot still output contains more congeners than the output from column stills and thus produces a fuller-tasting rum.[3]

Aging and blending

Many countries require that rum be aged for at least one year. This aging is commonly performed in used bourbon casks,[32] but may also be performed in stainless steel tanks or other types of wooden casks. The aging process determines the coloring of the Rum. Rum that is aged in oak casks becomes dark, whereas Rum that is aged in stainless steel tanks remains virtually colorless. Due to the tropical climate common to most rum-producing areas, rum matures at a much faster rate than is typical for Scotch or Cognac. An indication of this faster rate is the angels' share, or amount of product lost to evaporation. While products aged in France or Scotland see about 2% loss each year, rum producers may see as much as 10%.[32] After aging, rum is normally blended to ensure a consistent flavor. Blending is the final step in the Rum making process.[34] As part of this blending process, light rums may be filtered to remove any color gained during aging. For darker rums, caramel may be added to the rum to adjust the color of the final product.

In cuisine

Rum grog.

Besides rum punch, cocktails such as the Cuba Libre and Daiquiri have well-known stories of their invention in the Caribbean. Tiki culture in the US helped expand rum's horizons with inventions such as the Mai Tai and Zombie. Other well-known cocktails containing rum include the Piña Colada, a drink made popular by Rupert Holmes' song "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)",[35] and the Mojito. Cold-weather drinks made with rum include the Rum toddy and Hot Buttered Rum.[36] In addition to these well-known cocktails, a number of local specialties utilize rum. Examples of these local drinks include Bermuda's Dark 'N' Stormy (Gosling's Black Seal rum with ginger beer), and the Painkiller from the British Virgin Islands.

Rum may also be used as a base in the manufacture of liqueurs. Spiced Rum is made by infusing rum with a combination of spices. Another combination is jagertee, a mixture of rum and black tea.

Rum may also be used in a number of cooked dishes. It may be used as a flavoring agent in items such as rum balls or rum cakes. Rum is commonly used to macerate fruit used in fruitcakes and is also used in marinades for some Caribbean dishes. Rum is also used in the preparation of Bananas Foster and some hard sauces. Rum is sometimes mixed in with ice cream often together with raisins.

Ti Punch is short for "petit punch", little punch. This is a very traditional drink in the French-speaking region of the Caribbean.

See also


  1. ^ See article on triangular trade.
  2. ^ a b c Wayne (2006). p.34-35
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Pacult, F. Paul (July 2002). "Mapping Rum By Region". Wine Enthusiast Magazine. 
  4. ^ Blue, p. 72–73
  5. ^ a b Blue p. 73
  6. ^ Rajiv. M (March 12, 2003). "A Caribbean drink". The Hindu. 
  7. ^ Wayne (2006). p.14
  8. ^ Blue p. 72
  9. ^ a b Blue p. 70
  10. ^ Blue p. 74
  11. ^ Roueché, Berton. Alcohol in Human Culture. in: Lucia, Salvatore P. (Ed.) Alcohol and Civilization New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963 p. 178
  12. ^ Blue p. 76
  13. ^ a b Tannahill p. 295
  14. ^ Tannahill p. 296
  15. ^ a b Frost, Doug (January 6, 2005). "Rum makers distill unsavory history into fresh products". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  16. ^ Rorabaugh p. 152-154
  17. ^ Pack p. 15
  18. ^ Blue p. 77
  19. ^ Tannahill p. 273
  20. ^ Pack p. 123
  21. ^ Blue p. 78
  22. ^ Mikkelson, Barbara (2006-05-09). "Body found in barrel". Urban Legends Reference Pages. Archived from the original on 2009-01-15. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  23. ^ Clarke p. 26
  24. ^ Clarke p. 29
  25. ^ Blue p. 81–82
  26. ^ Cooper p. 60
  27. ^ Selsky, Andrew (2003-09-15). "Age-old drink losing kick". The Miami Herald. 
  28. ^ "Tourism Industry in Liberia". Retrieved 2009-12-05. 
  29. ^ Surreptitious drug abuse and the new Liberian reality: an overview
  30. ^ Photo-article on Liberian village life
  31. ^
  32. ^ a b c d e Vaughan, Mark (1 June 1994). "Tropical Delights". Cigar Aficionado.,2344,736,00.html. 
  33. ^ Cooper p. 54
  34. ^ [1]
  35. ^ Blue p. 80
  36. ^ Cooper p. 54–55


  • Curtis, Wayne (2006). And a bottle of rum - a history of the New World in ten cocktails. Crown Publishers. p. 285. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/1-400-5167-3|1-400-5167-3]]. 
  • Blue, Anthony Dias (2004). The Complete Book of Spirits : A Guide to Their History, Production, and Enjoyment. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-054218-7. 
  • Clarke, Frank G. (2002). The History of Australia. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-31498-5. 
  • Cooper, Rosalind (1982). Spirits & Liqueurs. HPBooks. ISBN 0-89586-194-1. 
  • Foley, Ray (2006). Bartending for Dummies: A reference for the Rest of Us. Wiley Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0-470-05056-X. 
  • Pack, James (1982). Nelson's Blood: The Story of Naval Rum. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-944-8. 
  • Tannahill, Reay (1973). Food in History. Stein and Day. ISBN 0-8128-1437-1. 
  • Rorabaugh, W.J.. The Alcoholic Republic. Oxford University Press. 

Further reading

  • Williams, Ian (2005). Rum: A Social and Sociable History of the Real Spirit of 1776. Nation Books.  (extract)
  • Broom, Dave (2003). Rum. Abbeville Press. 
  • Arkell, Julie (1999). Classic Rum. Prion Books. 
  • Coulombe, Charles A (2004). Rum: The Epic Story of the Drink that Changed Conquered the World. Citadel Press. 
  • Smith, Frederick (2005). Caribbean Rum: A Social and Economic History. University Press of Florida.  (Introduction)

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Rum is an alcoholic beverage that was drank in large quantities by British soldiers during the Peninsular and First World Wars and by civilians in more recent times.

  • "There's naught, no doubt, so much the spirit calms as rum and true religion." -- Lord Byron
  • "The chief fuddling they make in the island is Rumbullion, alias Kill-Divil, and this is made of sugar canes distilled, a hot, hellish, and terrible liquor". -- 17th Century account
  • "Fifteen men on the dead man's chest-Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!" -- Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island
  • "Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy, and the lash." -- Attributed to, and denied by, Winston Churchill
  • "Where I go, I hope there's rum" - Jimmy Buffett
  • "But why's the rum gone?" - Johnny Depp as "Captain Jack Sparrow", The Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • "Hide the rum." - Johnny Depp as "Captain Jack Sparrow", The Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest
  • "I prefer rum. Rum is good." - Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean:At World's End
  • "Rum's not drinking, it's surviving! - Robert Shaw as "Romer Treece" in the movie "The Deep"
Wikipedia has an article about:
Look up rum in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Kinloch Castle, Isle of Rum
Kinloch Castle, Isle of Rum
Rum (or Rùm) is the largest of the four Small Isles off the west coast Scotland. It has a permanent population of about thirty, centred around the harbour at Kinloch on the east coast.

Inhabited since the eighth millennium BC, Rum has provided some of the earliest archaeological evidence of human occupation in Scotland. Under the changing ownership of various clans and lairds, the population grew to over 400 around the start of the nineteenth century but was cleared of its indigenous population in the first half of the nineteenth century. The island was then a sporting estate and the somewhat bizarre 'Kinloch Castle was constructed in 1900. Rum was purchased by the Nature Conservancy Council in 1957, and then passed into the ownership of Scottish Natural Heritage. A summit, called in December 2007, initiated a process whereby islanders have subsequently voted in their majority to see the island pass into the ownership of the Isle of Rum Community Trust. The intent is for the island to become self managed, similar to the situation on Eigg, and for residents to have greater control and input into the development of the island and its resources.

Rum is of exceptional ecological importance, but thanks to its volcanic origins and its present day wildlife, notably red deer and white-tailed sea eagle. With the exception of Kinloch, the island is uninhabited, and offers stunning landscapes and walking.

Get in


There are two scheduled boat services that connect Rum with the mainland:

  • The Caledonian MacBrayne [1] ferry MV Lochnevis sails to all four of the Small Isles from Mallaig throughout the year. It calls at Rum once on Monday, twice on Tuesday, twice on Thursday and once on Saturday during the winter; twice on Monday, twice on Wednesday, twice on Friday and twice on Saturday in the summer.
  • During the summer, Arisaig Marine [2] provide wildlife sightseeing cruises from Arisaig, about 10 miles south of Mallaig. Different islands are called at on different days, but the timetable generally allows access to Muck on days when the CalMac ferry does not.

Train connections

If not travelling to Mallaig or Arisaig by car, you can reach the ferries by scheduled ScotRail train service (although note that the pier at Arisaig is not as close to the railway as the pier at Mallaig).

The famous ScotRail [3] 'Deerstalker' Caledonian Sleeper provides first class (single cabin) and standard class (double cabin) sleeper and reclining seat travel between Fort William and London Euston every night except Saturday. Local trains connect to Mallaig.

If travelling by day train, travelling to Rum from anywhere further south than Fort William is only possible without an overnight stop in Mallaig on summer Saturdays, when the early morning train from Glasgow Queen Street station connects with the second CalMac sailing to Rum.

Travelling from Rum to points beyond Fort William by day train is likewise only possible on summer Saturdays, when the first CalMac sailing from Rum connects with the train to Fort William and Glasgow Queen Street.

  • Kinloch Castle Hostel has a "bistro" that cooked breakfasts and packed lunches for guests and evening meals to resident guests and non-residents (although evening meals must be booked the morning before. Tel: +44 (0)1687 462037
  • The Tea Shop is located inside the Rum community hall, and is open daily (11:00 - 16:00) from April to September for hot and cold drinks, snacks, light meals and home baked treats. The wild deer of the island can be sampled in the Venison Stew, which is normally available and highly recommened.
  • Self-catering visitors to the island can stock up on food from the small community managed General Store & Post Office, located in the community hall. A selection of vegetables, groceries, snacks and alcohol is available, although larger groups should pre-order large orders three weeks in advance. Staffed by volunteers and open daily from 17:00 - 19:30. The Post Office keeps different hours, check the notice outside.
  • Kinloch Castle has a bar with an open fire that is open most evenings. Open to non residents as well as hostel guests. Tel: +44 (0)1687 462037


Details of all accommodation on the island can be found on the island's website [4]

  • Kinloch Castle Hostel offers basic but comfortable accommodation in both the former servants quarters and some of the more comfortable restored "Oak Rooms". A kitchen is provided for self catering guests; see the 'Eat' section above for evening meal information. Self catering accommodation starts at £14, the Oak Rooms cost £55 (for single or double occupancy) and include breakfast. Tel: +44 (0)1687 462037
  • Two Bothies are maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association [5] at Dibidal and Guirdal.
  • The campsite by the shore at Kinloch offers basic camping facilities, with a standpipe, stone sink and toilet.
  • Wild camping is permitted on the island, but you must notify the reserve office before departure who will advise you where not camp during sensitive periods for wildlife. Fires are not permitted when camping wild.
  • The Reserve Office can provide information about the island, as well as outdoor activities and camping. Tel +44 (0)1687 462026.
  • The Isle of Rum community website can be found online at [6]
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

RUM, or RouM (Arab. ar-Rum), a very indefinite term in use among Mahommedans at different dates for Europeans generally and for the Byzantine empire in particular; at one time even for the Seljuk empire in Asia Minor, and now for Greeks inhabiting Ottoman territory. When the Arabs met the Byzantine Greeks, these called themselves `Pwgaioc, or Romans, a reminiscence of the Roman conquest and of the founding of the new Rome at Byzantium. The Arabs, therefore, called them "the Ram" as a race-name (already in Kor. xxx. 1), their territory "the land of the Ram," and the Mediterranean "the Sea of the Ram." The original ancient Greeks they called "Yunan" (Ionians), the ancient Romans, "Ram" and sometimes "Latiniyun" (Latins). Later, inasmuch as Muslim contact with the Byzantine Greeks was in Asia Minor, the term Ram became fixed there geographically and remained even after the conquest by the Seljuk Turks, so that their territory was called the land of the Seljuks of Ram. But as the Mediterranean was "the Sea of the Ram," so all peoples on its N. coast were called sweepingly, "the Ram." In Spain any Christian slave-girl who had embraced Islam was named Rumiya, and we find the crew of a Genoese vessel being called Romans by a Muslim traveller. The crusades introduced the Franks (Ifranja), and later Arabic writers recognize them and their civilization on the N. shore of the Mediterranean W. from Rome; so Ibn Khaldun in the latter part of the 14th century. But Rumi is still used in Morocco for. a Christian or European in general, instead of the now elsewhere commoner Ifranji. (D. B. MA.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




Rum m. (genitive Rums, no plural)

  1. rum



Rum (uncomparable)

  1. relating to Greeks living in Turkey.
    eski Rum evleri
    the old Greek houses


Rum (definite accusative Rum'u, plural Rumlar)

  1. A Greek person livig in Turkey (especially in Istanbul, Izmir and Thrace)
  2. Byzantine, a native of Byzantine Empire
  3. (archaic) Anatolia


Related terms

Simple English

Rum is an alcoholic spirit. It is made from molasses and other sugarcane by-products through fermentation and distillation. Most of the rum production is in or around the Carribean. Rum is also made in other parts of the world, like Fiji or Australia.

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