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Acetum is raw juice mixed with water, after a few days it went sour and was used in medicine. Cooked sugar is molasses. And sugar is sugar. So, what is vinum adustum? Evidently, another beverage, besides Garapo, was obtained from sugarcane. A beverage which was made by burning the Garapo itself. It was made by burning, that is, distilling the wine made from grape juice and it was extremely strong.


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It was called gebrande wijn , which means, more or less, burnt wine. Better known as Brandy. Piso must bend his Latin to describe something which in Latin did not exist and which is similar to Brandy.

He is telling us that the fermented cane juice was then burnt, that is, distilled in a still, as they did for Brandy, resulting in a strong new beverage. He does not have a specific name for it yet and, basing himself on the production process, calls it vinum adustum , burnt wine.

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But now we can call it by its real name: Rum. If you want to read my articles and to be constantly updated about the rum world, visit www. On this picture you can see the plan of a sugar factory in Barbados in drawn to scale by Ligon. As far as I know, it is the first known plan of a rum distillery. It is not easy to understand.

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But the essential things are quite easy to grasp. The three black dots at the center of the circle at the bottom are the three vertical rollerswhich crushed the cane. They were powered by the strength of the animals tied to the spokesconverging towards the center. Ligon calls this part of the structure with the Spanish word ingenio. The juice squeezed went directly into the Cisterns I and K higher up on the right.

Then the juice was put to boil in big coppers. These are the 5 big black circles on the top. First, the juice boiled in the biggest copper, then in the smaller ones until it became sugar. During the boiling the skimmings, that is, the scum and the substances floating on the boiling copper, were taken away and they were first fermented and then distilled. You can see the rectangular washfor the collection and fermentation of the liquid, X. The two white circles at the sides of the wash are the pot stills.

The smaller one probably still distilled the Low wines again and produced the final drink. The presence of two pot stills and the double distillation show a rather advanced technique and a certain attention to the quality of the product.

Ligon was also skilled at technical design and his is a scale map. So we know that the washcould contain several hundreds of gallons. And the stills? Both stills fit into a still-house room no larger than 16 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 20 feet high. The capacity of the two stills probably reflected contemporary trends in Europe and held less than gallon each.

The older of the two, Marcgraf, was born in in Liebstadt, present day Germany. In his university years, he had studied mathematics, medicine, botany and first of all astronomy. The younger Willem Piso was born in Leiden, Holland, in Today he is considered one of the founders of tropical medicine. Sometimes they were escorted by Dutch military officers , sometimes they joined the Brazilian and Tapuyas military raids against enemy Indian groups.

Probably, he meant to translate his notes when he got back to Holland, but died in , in Angola while he was drawing a map of the Dutch settlements there. Piso, on the other hand, returned safely to Holland and continued to practice and study medicine. It does, and a lot. Well, the latin worlds destillatus destilled and alembicum still clearly appear in the book, in a chapter dedicated to medicine and, specifically, to the treatment of worms.

This is very encouraging for our Quest, but it is not nearly enough. The use of stills for medical purposes is not the clinching evidence yet. It does not prove without the shadow of a doubt that stills were used also for distilling on a large scale the fermented juice of sugarcane, to be consumed for pleasure.


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Even though Brazil is its birthplace, in order to conquer the world rum had to leave Brazil and go and grow upin the Caribbean, particularly in Barbados. And the voyage from Brazil to Barbados made a new detour to Holland. Some of them relocated to Barbados and Martinique. Barbados is a small island.

But let us look into the history of its colonization from the very beginning.

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Thus R. Not all modern historians entirely agree with Shomburk and some maintain that the role of the Dutch was more limited. Anyway, the English settled there in and the first voyage was funded by that very Sir William Courteen. They were looking for a tropical land where to grow some lucrative crops. They tried cotton, tobacco and other crops, but with little success.

Then they tried sugarcane cultivation. He will spend 3 years there. This book, published in , is possibly the first true mention of the existence of rum in the English language, even though it was not called rum yet. Here it is:. Some of the most industrious men, having gotten plants from Pernambuco, a place in Brazil, and made trial of them at the Barbados; and finding them to grow, they planted more and more, as they grew and multiplied on the place, till they had such a considerable number, as they were worth the while to set up a very small Ingenio, and so make trial what Sugar could be made upon that soil.

But, the secrets of the work being not well understood, the Sugars they made were very inconsiderable, and little worth, for two or three years. But they finding their errors by their daily practice began a little to mend; and, by new directions from Brazil, sometimes by strangers […] were content sometimes to make a voyage thither, to improve their knowledge in a thing they so much desired. To make room for sugarcane, forests were cut down and other crops were abandoned. But this took labor force, and plenty of it. The cultivation of cane is extremely hard work. First the cutting, appalling toil, under the sun, with tight labor times to take advantage of the short period in which the sugar content is at its highest.

Then the cane has to be crushed quickly. Again hard work, and dangerous too. Finally, the juice has to be boiled several times in great coppers, in a scorching tropical climate. In the first decades, most of the labor force was made up of indentured servants, that is, contract-bound servants.

They were poor English citizens who, in the hope of a better life, tried their luck in the colonies. But they had to get there, and travel costs were high. So these poor wretches agreed to give up their freedom and to serve a master for a certain period of time, usually 5 years, in exchange for transport, accommodation and a small final sum, which would allow them to set up their own business.

Once the contract had been signed — because it was a proper legal contract — the master could use them as he pleased, treat them as he pleased and even sell them to others.

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Sometimes they were even recruited by force. There was also a minority of black slaves bought in Africa. Over the next decades, though, things changed. The white servants left the island as soon as they could and fewer and fewer came to replace them, so planters had more recourse to slaves. Today, the great majority of the inhabitants of Barbados are of African origin. Then, according to Ligon, British settlers in Barbados learned the know-how of sugar in Dutch Brazil. And we know that in Brazil they commonly produced rum.

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Therefore, it makes sense to think that in Brazil they also learnt the art of the distillation of the by-products of sugar to produce rum. They used it for the consumption of their black slaves and white servants and also sold it on the island and abroad. So, as early as in Barbados rum was currently produced, consumed and sold. It was a very strong, not pleasant-tasting spirit.