THE HISTORY OF RUM IN THE SEYCHELLES
Before the smooth taste of Takamaka Rum was crafted and perfected to be the product you know today, residents and visitors to the Seychelles have long enjoyed different incarnations of this delicious drink. Predecessors were potent, pioneering and all important parts of the story of rum in The Seychelles today.
While the Seychelles is not a natural home for growing sugar cane, inhabitants found numerous ways to brew drinks to get their parties started. So how was rum made? And where the story of rum in the Seychelles begin?
Baka, which is still made today, has been part of Seychelles drinking history for a long time and while some stronger versions could end the party in a single sip, others offered a refreshing tot for a hot summer’s evening – much like our tasty Takamaka varieties. The process involved using fermented sugar-cane juice. The drink is still consumed by rural communities today, similar to early Mexican tequila efforts made from agave, and West African lapire and palm wine respectively, made from local fruits and vegetables. Of course, local and international drinkers still prefer the carefully selected, high quality distillation, ageing and blending process of Takamaka rum, packed with rich Seychelles flavour and without the possibility of an upset stomach, or unpredictable alcohol content.
Contrary to the large operation run by Takamaka at the Trois Freres Distillery, local residents used to make a small batch product referred to as rum arrangé. The largely unrefined product was flavoured with cinnamon, vanilla and other spices. Rum or rhum arrangé, also included local flowers and herbs for added flavour. In his book for the famous Lonely Planet series, Author and African archipelago expert Jean-Bernard Carillet shares that both in the past, and today, makers and sellers of the drink would “serve up their version with more than a little ceremony,”. Families in the Seychelles respect ritual around eating and drinking, and so in previous centuries, the batch of rum arrange would be served after the formalities, as a way to create a casual atmosphere and get the party started at the host’s home – and because of its ability to stay fresh for longer, some of the delicious drink could be savoured at a later date.
Both versions of the drink have links far wider than just the occasional booze up. As far back as the 1800s, the drinks were used as payment in a barter system, for manual labour and as thanks to neighbours. The working class were encouraged to enjoy a drink after a long day of work, and because of the unrefined content, often found themselves unable to return to work the next day.
We’ve come a long way since then, but we are proud of the long history of our product. Our spiced and flavoured varieties are in many ways a harkening back to the days of homemade rum arrangé, sipped on the beach among friends. Cheers to the Seychelles rum pioneers next time you make a delicious cocktail from premium quality Takamaka rum.