Rum Runners: Jack Rattenbury

Throughout history, alcohol smugglers have earned reputations that have painted them as heroes and villains in the eyes of the public. From the gentleman smuggler Bill McCoy to the dangerous Gertrude ‘Cleo’ Lythgoe, rum runners are the stuff of folk legend and another name to be mentioned in the same company is Jack Rattenbury.

Born in the village of Beer to the east of Devon, Rattenbury was known as ‘The Rob Roy of the West.’ He wrote a journal about his exploits called Memoirs of a Smuggler, a major reason why Rattenbury is remembered today.

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The Truth Of Rum

They say there’s truth in wine

I say if you really want to see the truth of who we are

Then you should try a bottle of rum

It’s human history masquerading as a spirit

Built on the foundation of slaves 

Breaking their backs in sugarcane fields

A truth to be sipped, swigged and kept down

It’s the libation of pirates seeking fortune

Liquid gold to be savoured

It’s the lifeblood of the Royal Navy

Coursing through the veins of sailors

Who still remember Black Tot Day

It’s the hard work of master blenders

Putting their heart and soul into every glass

It’s the energy of innovation passed across countries

Each distillery leaving their own mark to be remembered

It’s the story of cultures crossing the world

Conversations flowing from people from all walks of life

It’s damn tasty

It’s the truth of rum 

A Merry Life And A Short One

When the boy went to sea

He had no idea of the life he would lead

All he wanted was to leave the old one behind

Scrubbing decks was his bread and butter

Aboard, there was no bread and butter to eat

After the first month he stowed away on another ship

A great beast of a vessel railing against the wind

Powered by a restless need to wander and conquer

The captain found him the same day

Half-starved, more ghost than boy

Rum brought him back to life

Warmed his blood 

From that day forward he wore many hats

Swabbie, powder monkey, first mate, captain

Shanties became his lullaby

Violence became his religion

Rum became his mistress

Drank in victory, burned in defeat

Years later the boy returned home

His father didn’t recognise him

He saw a man in fine clothes

It was the last thing he saw

The boy went back to the sea

Roving to the edges of the world

Until he went down with his ship

A merry life and a short one

Learning About The Legacy Of Georges Stades And The West Indies Rum Distillery

Barbados and rum have every right to be in the same sentence, as the island produces some of the finest grog to be found anywhere on the planet. A business that carries on the tradition of producing fine Bajan rum is the West Indies Distillery, a venue with a rich heritage that started with a man named Georges Stades. 

Stades impact on the rum industry was prolific and it was fascinating to learn about his story on a webinar hosted by The Rum Lab’s Federico Hernadez. West Indies Rum Distillery: Diving Into 4 Generations Of Rum-Making featured master distiller Don Benn and Master Blender Alexandre Gabriel, who recounted the life of Stades and how the distillery came into existence.

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A Pirate’s Life: Henry Every

A Pirate’s Life examines the rum collections of infamous pirates, reimagining what they would drink in the modern day. A name that has lived on from the Golden Age of Piracy is Henry Every, one of the few brigands in history to escape with his riches and disappear into the annals of time.

Although Every’s pirate career only lasted two years, his story has become legend and it’s likely that he enjoyed a good deal of rum during his travels across the world. So, what kind of grog would he have in his collection?

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Songs Of The Sea: A Drop Of Nelson’s Blood

Songs Of The Sea shares the history of some of the most memorable sea shanties. Plenty of shanties featured boozing and roving, with A Drop Of Nelson’s Blood doing a great job of capturing the spirit of drunk and rowdy sailors. A slang term for rum, Nelson’s Blood warmed the hearts of many mariners during long sea journeys.

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La Giraldilla And Her Connection To Cuban Rum

Folklore looms large in the history of rum, spanning across multiple countries and production styles. In Cuba, the legend of the Giraldilla is linked with Havana Club, as the brand uses her for its logo. But who or what exactly is the Giraldilla and how did it become an icon for one of the most famous rum brands in the world?

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What’s The Connection Between Duppy And Rum?

Folklore of the Caribbean is as diverse as the people who inhabit the islands. The melting pot of cultures has created a pantheon of supernatural creatures who’re as changeable as the stories that are passed down about them from generation to generation.

Duppy are common in Caribbean folklore, haunting the spirit realm and bringing mischief wherever they go. But what is the story of the duppy and how is it connected to rum?

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