The One Continent That Has Never Produced Rum

Excluding ancient supercontinents like Pangea, there's only one continent that has never produced rum. The popularity of rum cocktails helps explain how this liquor became so widespread, yet so does its history. First, however, it's worth exploring what rum is and how it's made.

Rum — according to Vinepair – is distilled inside of column and/or still apparatuses, and made from fermented sugar or refined-sugar products such as molasses and sugarcane. The two main types of rum are white and dark. White rum has a soft yet lively taste, having been slightly aged inside stainless steel tanks. It's used to make cocktails such as the Pina Colada, Mojito, and Daiquiri. Dark rum, on the other hand, is hefty and sweet, having been thoroughly aged in barrels and sometimes modified with colorants and spices, too. It's used in cocktails like the Hurricane or Dark 'N' Stormy. Rum also has other culinary uses besides imbibing, per BBC Good Food. Dark rums work especially well in both sweet and savory cooked dishes, while white rums are better off in uncooked desserts.

Where did this versatile spirit get its start, though?

Rum has an unfortunate history

Rum can technically be made anywhere in the world. However, as noted by Vinepair, sugar is essential to its creation, so it's traditionally been made in tropical regions where sugarcane grows plentifully. Specifically, per BBC Good Food, rum first emerged in the 17th-century Caribbean. 

Unfortunately, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the geopolitics of that time and place meant rum was heavily intertwined with the Atlantic slave trade during its early days. Given the Caribbean's proximity to North and South America, plus the rampant colonization of the New World back then, it's not hard to see how rum production got established on those two continents. Then, by the 18th century, port cities in Europe started adopting the rum distillation process, as well, officially introducing the practice to the Old World (via Difford's Guide). At some point, rum production also made its way over to Africa, where there is now — for instance — a sort of rum revolution occurring in South Africa, as reported by Rumporter.

By process of elimination, that still leaves three continents left. On the other side of the world from rum's origin point, we find unique takes on the spirit. For example, Australia lists red rum (in addition to dark and white) as an official category, one which indicates the rum is overproofed. Meanwhile, in the Asian nation of Indonesia, for example, a pungent rum called Batavia arak is produced. That only leaves Antarctica unaccounted for.

Antarctica has never produced rum

It likely comes as little surprise that cold, desolate Antarctica is the one continent to have never produced rum (at least, we found no record of such a thing). Has any alcohol ever been made there? According to Vice, you can drink vodka that's distilled using glacier water at Faraday Bar on the Vernadsky Research Base of Antarctica. 

"It's the best [and only] vodka in Antarctica," its bartender once proclaimed. Back in the 1980s, a carpenter named Keith Larratt decided to build a watering hole at the outpost. Why? Larratt later wrote that he was inspired to "bring laughter and a feeling of warmth to what was the most miserable and unloved base in the Antarctic. Over time, researchers continued to patronize the establishment while Antarctic cruise ships occasionally dropped off their passengers for a drink.

There's no mention of it being made at the Faraday Bar, but at least one individual has drunk rum in Antarctica. In an interview with Cask Trade, Ian Burrell — a Global Rum Ambassador from Jamaica — discussed this unique experience. "You can't be a global rum ambassador if you don't do all seven continents," Burrell claimed. "In 2013, I did all seven continents. I just wanted to do something different, and so I made rum drinks and cocktails in the Antarctic with some of the clearest and purest ice straight from the water." Maybe someday, someone will up the coolness factor even further and actually distill rum there!