The Untold Truth Of Captain Morgan Rum

There are few brands of liquor that have made more of a splash in the market than Captain Morgan rum. Its iconic Captain character, which was based on a real life pirate, has captivated the rum drinking population for decades. Captain Morgan rum may be a relative newcomer to the rum industry, but its distinctive bottle and powerful flavor have helped to skyrocket the brand to one of the top-selling liquors in the United States and the U.K. 

There is something endearing about this affordable boozy drink that keeps people coming back for more. Maybe it is because, as the drink's catchphrase says, perhaps there is a little Captain in all of us. Whatever the reason, there is more to this rum, and its famous Captain mascot, than meets the eye. So sit back and grab a drink as we set sail to learn the untold truth of Captain Morgan.

Captain Morgan was a real person

Captain Morgan isn't just a friendly mascot known for partying on the Las Vegas Strip, he was a real person and a pirate, no less.

Captain Morgan's rum took its name from captain Henry Morgan. Morgan was born in South Wales in 1635 before making his way to Barbados under uncertain circumstances. One story is that Morgan was taken to be made an indentured servant, something he vehemently denied. It is more commonly accepted that Morgan joined Oliver Cromwell's troops.

By 1660, Morgan was made Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica by his uncle and became the captain of a "privateer" ship. A privateer could attack ships and take whatever bounty they wanted. If that sounds like a pirate, it's because that's basically what it was. But as long as you didn't attack British ships and shared with the British Government, they had no problem with it.

Morgan was a successful pirate and spent the last few years of his life an incredibly rich man drinking rum on his sugar plantation before dying at the age of 53.

The company chose to name its product after him due to his "legend and character," which the marauding pirate certainly had, in addition to an extensive and not necessarily flattering track record.

The company is relatively new

Like other hard liquors, rum is based on fermentation and fermentation has been around for a long time. Rum itself has been produced in the Caribbean for hundreds of years. But the Captain Morgan variety didn't come onto the scene until 1944 when the Seagram family bought a distillery in Jamaica and started producing the now-famous Captain Morgan Rum. While a company that is over 75 years old may, in any other situation, be considered an old company, when it comes to liquor, it's practically a baby. Rum competitor Bacardi was founded in 1862, more than 80 years before the Captain hit the shelves. Just two years later, in 1864, vodka giant Smirnoff was founded.

Captain Morgan can't even fall back on American prohibition, which forced American brewers and distillers to find alternate means of supporting themselves, because Captain Morgan has never been produced in the United States. But its young age hasn't stopped it from becoming a hit in the American market.

Captain Morgan is a sister company to other top brands

Although Captain Morgan was originally owned and operated by the Seagram brothers, in 2001 they sold the company to Diageo, a multinational distilling company. According to, Diageo was, at the time, the single largest distiller in the world, before being bumped to second largest in 2017. Even in second place, it produces an impressive amount of brands that take up a large space in the alcohol aisle. 

In addition to Captain Morgan, it owns four other rum brands, including Zacapa. But that's not all. Diageo owns a whole host of distilleries, which include scotch, other whiskeys, vodka, tequila, gin, and even some beer breweries. If there is a market for it and it's an alcoholic beverage, Diageo has a toe in it. This means the Captain has a whole host of famous sibling companies such as Johnny Walker, Smirnoff, Bailey's Irish Cream, and Guinness. Some of these brands are very old. Guinness, for example, dates from 1759. Captain Morgan is among the younger ones from this impressive family lineup.

It's a top selling alcohol

Despite its relative youth, Captain Morgan wasted no time in staking its claim in the American liquor sales chart. As noted, parent company Diageo currently accounts for one of the largest portions of the global alcohol market, according to Zippia. That's not too shabby but even more impressive is how much of the liquor market Captain Morgan takes up. In 2020, Captain Morgan was one of the top 10 liquor brands sold in the United States, based on volume, making them one of only three rum brands to make it into the top 20 at all. What's more, two of the Diageo sibling brands, Smirnoff and Crown Royal, also found their way onto the list.

The Captain also has a strong foothold in the U.K., where its parent company Diageo is located. There, Captain Morgan brand products take up three of the top 10 spots, with their Original Spiced Rum coming in at #1. Today, Captain Morgan is considered the third-largest rum company in the world.

Sugar is a key ingredient for Captain Morgan

Many people don't realize it, but rum is essentially made from fermented sugar. To make Captain Morgan rum, the juice from fresh sugar cane is squeezed and molasses is extracted. Molasses literally just a sugar byproduct, so when you buy brown sugar, you are really just buying crystalized sugar with varying amounts of molasses mixed back in.

This sweet, dark, syrupy substance is rich in flavor and, when mixed with water and yeast, ferments and begins to turn into the delicious alcoholic beverage we all know and love. After fermentation is complete, Captain Morgan takes the liquid and runs it through the distillation process before allowing it to rest in charred white oak barrels. These barrels are what help give it the flavor and caramel color we are used to. To create its famous spiced rum, the rum is then flavored with secret blends of flavors and spices. For the brand's other varieties, Captain Morgan may leave the rum in the barrels for a shorter or longer time, or add in different flavors. But it still all comes back to the same base ingredient: sugar.

Captain Morgan rum is vegan

It may be a surprise to many, but a lot of alcohol isn't vegan. According to Vegan Food & Living this can be due to either an ingredient added to it, such as albumin, which is derived from eggs or blood, or by the filtration process which may use things such as charcoal made from bones. This can be a problem not just for people who choose to avoid animal-based products, but also for those with allergies. 

Healthline points out that some of the added ingredients contain common allergens, such as shellfish and dairy. When it comes to sitting down with a cocktail, even those who aren't vegan might want to feel secure in the fact that they know what their drink is made out of. Luckily for those involved, Captain Morgan is listed as one of the vegan safe liquor brands. While it does not have any kind of vegan certification, the company has stated in a 2012 email that "... there are no animal flesh, animal gelatin, honey, dairy products, or eggs in Captain Morgan. Further, Captain Morgan never has and never will be tested on animals." According to the company, the exception to this is their flavor Loco Nut, which contains dairy.

Captain Morgan comes in many flavors

While Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum might be its most popular flavor in many markets, the spiced recipe is neither the company's first nor only flavor. When Captain Morgan premiered in 1944, it was selling Jamaican rum. It wasn't until 1984, when the company launched the Original Spiced Rum, that the company took off and changed the way Americans have enjoyed rum since.

Now it is hard to think of Captain Morgan and not think of spiced rum, but the company has a lot more to offer. In addition to the spiced rum, it also offers specialty spiced rums such as a 100 proof variety, which is 50% alcohol. It really packs a punch.

Speaking of punch, Captain Morgan offers premixed cocktails, such as a Tropical Punch variety and a Mai Tai. The Captain also offers flavors, such as pineapple, coconut, sliced apple, and cherry vanilla. In addition to this plethora of flavors, it offers some tried and true standbys of unflavored or spiced rums, such as Captain Morgan White Rum and Captain Morgan Private Stock. Whatever your preference, the Captain has you covered.

Captain Morgan's famous pose was banned by the NFL

The famous Captain Morgan pose of one leg lifted in the air to mimic the captain's leg poised on the barrel, has been known to show up in a lot of places. But one place it won't be seen ever again is on an NFL field, this is due to a ruling based on a marketing attempt from the company gone wrong.

As part of an attempted marketing campaign, Captain Morgan offered to donate money to charity whenever an NFL player scored a touchdown and struck the famous pose. It isn't uncommon for players to strike a pose, or do a dance in celebration of a touchdown, but there was one major problem. The NFL already had a rule, according to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello " a company can't pay a player to somehow promote its product on the field." Even though the players were technically not being paid, the NFL still nixed it, and banned the pose from the field.

Captain Morgan once bankrolled a shipwreck hunt

What's more natural than a company named after a famous pirate having a deep sea adventure hunting for the remains of a shipwreck? Nothing, or so thought the executives at Captain Morgan.

According to Bon Appetit, when Captain Morgan caught wind that a team of archeologists were on the hunt for a shipwreck said to be one of Captain Henry Morgan's ships, its interest was piqued. What's more, when the company found out that the expedition was in jeopardy due to lack of funds, the check writers at Captain Morgan's stepped in and helped bankroll the rest of the expedition.

The ship was found off the coast of Panama, after the initial archaeological team found cannons nearby. The expedition was a success; and while they don't have definitive proof yet that the ship was Henry Morgan's, they did find booty on board, which may contain rum, which as we know, is a treasure and was a favorite drink among pirates. Truly, this was a case of corporate money well spent.

A sci-fi and fantasy illustrator designed the iconic pirate

Where would Captain Morgan be without, well, Captain Morgan? The illustration on the bottle is instantly recognizable and has prompted a whole string of ad campaigns based on its likeness. The company has Don Maitz to thank for this long-standing icon that has stood the test of time. While other brands have redesigned logos and bottles, the captain is here to stay. Maitz designed the captain early in his career in the 1980s, when the company was still owned by Seagrams (via Sun-Sentinel). The drawings were nearly destroyed after an accident left them exposed to the elements in a McDonald's parking lot in the dead of winter but, thankfully, they were salvageable and the rest is history.

Since then, Maitz has gone on to work as an illustrator, winning two Hugo awards (one of the highest awards in the science fiction and fantasy genres), and his work has been used on the covers of books by literary legends Stephen King and Isaac Asimov.

But don't worry, Maitz still does work on pirates, which have gone on to be featured in museums.

There is a Captain Morgan experience

If you ever find yourself in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, it may be worth heading over to the World of Captain Morgan for a taste of the Captain Morgan Experience.

Instead of just having a distillery, and perhaps a small gift shop, the people of Captain Morgan went all out. Guests are invited on an adventure where they get to learn about this history of Captain Henry Morgan, rum distilling, and more. The Experience takes 40 minutes and includes a tour of the distillery as well as a rum tasting for all those over 18. The tour is $15 per adult, but don't worry, if you want to make this a family affair, children can be added for $3 as long as there is an adult accompanying them.

And don't worry, there is, of course, a gift shop where you can purchase anything from the rums you will be tasting to Christmas tree ornaments to Captain Morgan polo shirts.

Captain Morgan is affordable

As liquors go, Captain Morgan is considered reasonably affordable. With such a wide variety of products and such popularity, it is surprising Captain Morgan has not tried to increase its prices. A bottle of the Original Spiced Rum in a 750ml bottle will only set you back between $12.99-14.99. Captain Morgan's most expensive bottles, Captain Morgan's Black Spiced Rum and Captain Morgan's Private Stock Rum, only reach between $21.99-26.99 and $23.99-25.99 respectively. Not too shabby.

On a rum guide put together by Bottled Prices, Captain Morgan, while not the cheapest rum, is one of the less expensive ones and is categorized by them as a "budget" rum. Both Bacardi and Captain Morgan get a special nod from the company when discussing popular, budget-friendly rum options. By staying as affordably priced as it has, Captain Morgan has remained a popular choice in bars and homes across the U.S.

Captain Morgan should be mixed

Some liquors are known for their incredible flavor and smoothness. They are meant to be served on their own with nothing to disrupt the delicate balance of flavors. Captain Morgan is not one of those liquors.

Captain Morgan rums are strongly flavored, in particular its spiced rum, making them good mixing liquor. The brand's website states that Captain Morgan should be enjoyed as a mixer or as part of a rum cocktail. But it doesn't stop there. Captain Morgan's website is chock full of delicious cocktail recipes that can be made with a variety of products. And in a move that really cuts out the bartending middleman, Captain Morgan offers pre-mixed, bottled cocktails.

There are some exceptions to the cocktail-mixer guidance. Captain Morgan does offer a few higher-end rums, such as its Private Stock, which are also recommended to be drunk neat or on the rocks, in addition to the option of being mixed.

Captain Morgan doesn't expire

It doesn't matter if there has been a bottle of Captain Morgan in the pantry for two years or 20. If it is unopened, it is likely still drinkable.

Rum is a stable alcohol, which means as long as it is cared for correctly, it can keep indefinitely. Say, for example, a stock of rum bottles is found in a shipwreck. Under the right circumstances, those bottles might be drinkable. Ideally, rum should be stored in a cool place away from direct heat. In the hull of a ship under water might just work. For those of us with above water storage, however, here are some practical rum storage tips. As noted, store the rum in a cool space, not by a radiator or over your stove. If the bottle is open, reseal it to prevent more oxygen from getting in and causing the rum to deteriorate quickly.

That being said, don't worry too much if you have an open bottle of rum. Most bottles of rum even after opening are good for two years, which is still a pretty long time. Flavored varieties, though, should be consumed faster. So if you have an open bottle — or one that you want an excuse to open — it's time to break out that cocktail list from the Captain Morgan website and have a good time.