|Travel and tourism throughout Latin America.||Puerto Rican Rum|
|Although it is a relatively small island, Puerto Rico produces the largest amount of rum in the world. Eighty percent of the rum for sale in the United States originated in Puerto Rico.|
Rum is distilled from sugarcane, which did not exist in the Caribbean before Christopher Columbus' second voyage to the area. Historians believe that Ponce de Leon brought the beverage to Puerto Rico in the early 1500's. As sugarcane plantations sprang up around the island, rum production began in earnest.
The Spanish government actually forbade the production of rum in Puerto Rico in 1747, because the sales of Spanish liquor had fallen off. When production was permitted again, almost twenty years later, the rum was heavily taxed.
Rum's popularity has waxed and waned over the centuries. In the 1800's it was largely replaced by American whiskey in the United States. It enjoyed a brief revival in the U.S. during World War II due to a whiskey shortage. Due to the Organic Act, which said that any excise taxes collected in the United States on Puerto Rican products would be returned to Puerto Rico, those few boon years had a huge impact on the Puerto Rican economy. For example, in 1940-41 Puerto Rico received $4.5million in internal revenue payments, but in 1943-44 they received a whopping $65.9 million. Unfortunately, once whiskey production resumed at normal levels, rum sales decreased.
The dismal sales continued as new and different liquors arrived on the market. In an effort to boost sales and improve the quality of the beverage, the Puerto Rican government instituted new regulations for production of rum. These changes did the trick, and Puerto Rican rum has maintained its popularity ever since.
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