Rum was the beverage of choice in New England during the Colonial era. Although tastes turned somewhat more to whiskey after the Revolutionary War, for decades after Independence, New England distilleries filled many a glass with rum -- alternately known as Oh-Be-Joyful or Kill Devil. However, they also filled many more barrels destined for the slave trade in Africa.
The end of that nasty business, and the Civil War, dealt the region's rum distilling industry what appeared for a long while to be a fatal blow. (While "rum running" was a popular activity off the coast of New England during Prohibition, rum smuggling was more of a Florida thing. In New England, "rum running" was a generic term that mostly encompassed the smuggling of Canadian whiskey and European spirits.)
As the craft distilling trend has slowly gained traction in New England, rum distilling is also staging a comeback. While rum is not flowing out of Yankee stills as often as vodka and brandy--especially apple brandy--there are several distilleries that are reviving the area's rum tradition, and most of them welcome visitors.
Sweet Grass Farm Winery and Distillery
Based in Union, Maine, Sweet Grass Farm Winery and Distillery distills Three Crow Rum, described as a light rum with butterscotch, vanilla, and caramel notes.
Open to the public for visits.
Address: 347 Carroll Road, Union.
Other products: a huge variety of other spirits, including gin, apple brandy, vermouth, bitters.
Berkshire Mountain Distillers
Berkshire Mountain Distillery produces small batches of Ragged Mountain Rum, in a traditional pot still. This was the distilleries first product when it opened in 2008, and it quickly gained acclaim, snagging a double gold in the San Francisco Spirits Competition in 2009.
Located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the distillery has become something of a media darling, but it is not open to the public for tours.
Find a retailer, restaurant or bar that sells or pours Ragged Mountain Rum.
Other products: Greylock Gin, Ice Glen Vodka, Berkshire Bourbon, New England Corn Whiskey.
Ryan & Wood
The seafaring town of Gloucester, Massachusetts, is the home of Ryan & Wood, who create Folly Cove Rum in a copper pot still.
The distillery is open to the public for tours, Thursday through Saturday. (The distillery's Facebook page is more helpful than its company website for planning a foray.)
Address:15 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester
Other products: Beauport Vodka and Knockabout Gin.
Turkey Shore Distilleries
Old Ipswich Rum is the product of Turkey Shore Distilleries, in Ipswich Massachusetts.
Tours are available on weekdays and by request.
Address: 23 Hayward St. #8, Ipswich
Newport Distilling Company
Newport Distilling Company, in Newport Rhode Island makes Thomas Tew rum from blackstrap molasses. This is limited production, and each bottle is from a single barrel, no blending.
Tours and tastings are available, both for Thomas Tew rum, and for sister product Newport Storm beer.
Read all about Thomas Tew rum, and the history of rum in Newport, Rhode Island
Address: 293 JT Connell Rd, Newport.