Sugar cane was used to make alcoholic drinks in Egyptian times but it was not until the 16th century that farmers and workers on Caribbean sugar cane plantations took up this ancient tradition. They took molasses, the dark, sticky by-product of the sugar making process and distilled it into a harsh, strong spirit. Rum in the raw. As plantations spread, so did the tradition of making rum.
Plantations from Jamaica to Latin America each had their own different rum but one thing united them all. They were strong. Very strong. So to soften the blow, distillers would add their own unique recipes of herbs, spices and fruits.