Skip to main content

9 Things You Should Know About Captain Morgan

Famous for its namesake mascot and reputation as a college party staple, Captain Morgan was founded in Jamaica 1944 by the Seagram Company. The brand’s flagship Spiced Rum was introduced to the United States in 1984 and was an instant hit, thanks in part to its now ubiquitous pirate-emblazoned label.

The brand was purchased by Diageo in 2001, and production was shifted to the U.S. Virgin Islands about a decade later. Captain Morgan is now the third best-selling rum in the world according to The Spirits Business, selling roughly 12 million cases of the stuff per year.

Curious to know more about the iconic rum brand? Read on for nine more things you should know about Captain Morgan rum.

The recipe for Captain Morgan Spiced Rum was originally created for medicinal purposes.

In the early 1940s, Seagram’s CEO Samuel Bronfman purchased the Long Pond distillery from the Jamaican government and started producing raw rum under the name Captain Morgan Rum Company. One of the rum buyers, Levy Brothers pharmacy in Kingston, infused the rum with medicinal herbs and spices before aging it and bottling it for sale in their shop. Upon trying the aged spiced rum, Bronfman purchased the rights to the recipe and started producing the spiced rum commercially under the Captain Morgan label.

Captain Morgan was a real person.

Yes, the likeness on the iconic brand is based on a real-life buccaneer. In the 1600s, Welsh-born Sir Henry Morgan made a name for himself raiding Spain’s Caribbean colonies with the unofficial support of the British government, which was seeking to gain a stronghold in the region. In 1655, the captain was believed to have been a member of the expedition that converted Jamaica into an English colony. He also likely participated in a raid on Cuba in 1662, and served as second-in-command to conduct raids on Caribbean Dutch colonies in the second Anglo-Dutch War. Six years later, he was named commander of the buccaneers who led the assault on Panama, but his fleet was sacked in 1671. Captain Morgan was eventually knighted by King Charles II in 1671 and named deputy governor of Jamaica, where he relocated until his death in1688.

Much of the brand’s success comes from its iconic label.

When Seagrams planned to introduce its product stateside, it knew it would need a recognizable label to stand out on shelves. It recruited the help of Don Maitz, a famous American artist specializing in sci-fi and fantasy cartoons, to help create “an iconic image to identify the rum product.” Maitz put forth three sketches of the now ubiquitous buccaneer and described the final design as an “à la carte menu” in a Reddit AMA. He explained that the company landed on a pose from one sketch, the costume from another, and the color palette from his third sketch for the final design for the now iconic mascot. The design still graces every bottle of Captain Morgan rum and has inspired life-size figures that have sold for hundreds and even thousands of dollars — when they’re not being stolen.

The brand once funded the excavation of the real Captain Morgan’s ships.

In 2010, a team of archeologists discovered a collection of iron cannons on the shores of Panama, close to where Captain Morgan lost five ships in the 17th century. The team had exhausted their funding before they could identify the specific location of the shipwrecks, so the Captain’s namesake rum brand stepped in. Rather than let the ships remain lost to the sea, Captain Morgan provided funding that allowed for the archaeologists to conduct a magnetometer survey to narrow down potential sites. In 2011, a team of underwater researchers and volunteers discovered a section of the starboard side of a wooden ship and a number of unopened cocktail boxes. Each of the artifacts recovered from the sea, along with the collection of six cannons, remain the property of the Panamanian government.

The “Captain Morgan pose” was banned by the NFL…

The now ubiquitous “Captain Morgan pose” — standing with one leg propped up on an invisible barrel and a hand on your “ship” — became something of a sensation in the early aughts among college kids and pro athletes alike. After scoring a touchdown at a 2009 home game against the Dallas Cowboys, Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant impersonated the Captain’s stance in the end zone. The pose provoked a penalty for excessive celebration, and days later, the pose was banned from all touchdown celebrations.

Avant did have good intentions: The end-zone pose was part of a guerilla marketing campaign from the rum brand in order to raise money for Gridiron Greats, a non-profit organization providing financial grants and pro bono medical care for retired NFL players in need. As a part of the campaign, Captain Morgan pledged to donate $10,000 to the nonprofit every time an NFL player was caught on camera doing the Captain Morgan pose, during a regular-season game. For the playoffs, that number would be upped to $25,000. For the Super Bowl? A whopping $100,000 per pose. Still, the NFL remains strict with its advertising allowances and exclusive marketing agreements, so you won’t see the pose making a comeback..

…and inspired a new way for doctors to fix dislocated hips.

While the pose has faded from the football field, the medical field has discovered its orthopedic merits. Hip dislocations can be difficult to reset and risky for the patients, but in 2011, Dr. Gregory W. Hendey published a report in the Annals of Emergency Medicine that identified a new approach: The Captain Morgan Technique. Dr. Hendey argued that the Captain’s pose — standing with one leg up at approximately 90 degrees — is an effective body placement for doctors applying force to a dislocated hip that eliminates the need to climb up onto the patient’s gurney. While the injured person lies on their back, a doctor places their knee behind the patient’s flexed knee, allowing them to pop the hip back into place more easily. The method was described as successful in 12 of 13 cases in the report titled “The Captain Morgan Technique for the Reduction of the Dislocated Hip.”

Production moved around before the brand settled at its current home.

Though it was originally distilled in Jamaica, production of Captain Morgan rum shifted to Puerto Rico sometime in the 1950s. Approximately 30 years later, Seagrams sold the rights to produce and sell Captain Morgan rum in Puerto Rico and the remainder of the Caribbean to Destilería Serrallés. From the 1980s to 2012, Captain Morgan was produced at the Puerto Rican distillery, now known for its production of Don Q Rum. In 2010, Diageo shifted production to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and opened a new distillery, which kickstarted what has been referred to as the “Rum Wars.” Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands split U.S. tax revenue generated from rum sales based on their annual production levels. While the new distillery in St. Croix allowed for the creation of jobs and an influx of tax dollars to the tropical isle, Puerto Rico took an enormous hit and lost roughly $120 million in annual revenue. Despite the losses, Captain Morgan is required to maintain production on the island for at least 30 years.

There are 10 different rum expressions under the Captain Morgan umbrella…

Captain Morgan has introduced a number of additional rum expressions since its U.S. launch, and has even reformulated its original recipe. The updated version of the Spiced Rum debuted in April 2023 and was reformulated to include Madagascar vanilla. Now, the rum is said to highlight notes of cinnamon, clove, dried fruit, and caramelized sugar. In addition to the flagship spirit, Captain Morgan also sells a darker Black Spiced Rum, 100 Proof Spiced Rum, Silver Spiced Rum, White Rum, and Captain Morgan Private Stock, which is made from a blend of Caribbean rums infused with secret spices. Captain Morgan offers four flavored rums, too: Sliced Apple, Coconut, Pineapple, and Orange Vanilla Twist.

…and a collection of ready-to-drink cocktails.

In 2021, Captain Morgan hopped on the ready-to-drink train and launched a collection of large-format, pre-batched cocktails. The cocktails include a Tropical Punch and Mai Tai (both bottled at 13 percent ABV) along with a Long Island Iced Tea containing rum, vodka, triple sec, and lemon juice. Two years later, the brand partnered with Vita Coco Coconut Water to launch Vita Coco Spiked, a line of low-ABV spiked coconut waters. In February 2024, Captain Morgan followed up with a new RTD cocktail lineup of its own, Captain Morgan Sliced. The original variety pack includes flavors like Pineapple Daiquiri Style and Strawberry Margarita and has since been expanded to offer stand-alone flavors like Spiced Up Tropical Hurricane and Spiced Up Long Island Iced Tea.

The article 9 Things You Should Know About Captain Morgan appeared first on VinePair.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.