The Privateer becomes a brand…

Originally posted 22 April 2012

Rum was often used as a basis for medicinal tonics, and a pair of pharmacists in Kingston, Jamaica had a particularly tasty recipe that they brewed up using local Long Pond rum.  The popular drink caught the eye of a major liquor company in 1944, but since Levy Brothers Pharmacy Spiced Rum wasn’t catchy enough, they named it after a Caribbean celebrity: Captain Morgan. Henry Morgan was a colorful character, a pirate and privateer who was briefly the Governor of Jamaica. He was notable for ingenious military strategies, personal courage, heavy imbibing, flagrant disregard of orders from London, and an incident in which his crew was so drunk on rum that they set his flagship on fire. Though the beverage named after Morgan wasn’t the first spiced rum ever made, it was the first to be mass marketed, and the image of the gaudily dressed Welsh privateer was a potent marketing tool.  His portrayal has changed over the years – this ad is from 1950.


I like this depiction of the Captain better than the modern version – he looks less like a cartoon character and more like someone I’d actually hoist a glass with. (Images courtesy of Diageo).