The Untold Truth Of Captain Morgan Rum

With his three-cornered red hat, gold-trimmed jacket, and flowing cape, it would be easy to assume that the mustachioed swashbuckler featured on bottles of Captain Morgan rum was the work of an advertising agency and not an historical figure.

In fact, the pirate whose name and likeness is emblazoned on countless bottles of sugar cane-based spirits was a real person who carried the official title of Sir Henry Morgan (via Reader's Digest). Morgan was born in Wales in 1625 but how he made his way to the Caribbean, where his namesake rum was created centuries later, is mysterious, to say the least.

Some say that he was kidnapped and sold into slavery, while others have told tales of Morgan being a fierce pirate. Or he could have just joined the army. Regardless, it was in Barbados in 1655 where Morgan began his career as a sailor, solider, and ultimately, a privateer. While the captain didn't live a long life — he passed away at the age of 53 — his bloody career ended in Jamaica, where he served as Lieutenant Governor, enjoying the nation's rum. According to certain sources, he passed away due to complications from alcoholism.

Spiced rums were known for their medicinal qualities

So how exactly did Captain Morgan make his way from an infamous career in the Caribbean to becoming the face of spiced rums everywhere?

It could be Morgan's final resting place that inspired the Seagrams company to put the captain on their spiced rum. Vinepair explains that Seagrams established the Captain Morgan Rum Company in 1944. The recipe for the uniquely Caribbean spirit was purchased from Levy Brothers pharmacy in Jamaica. On the island, aside from being nice to sip, spiced rums had medicinal qualities. In need of a catchy brand name for their newly acquired spirit, Seagrams opted to name it for the hard-drinking pirate who made a name for himself in Jamaica (via Richard Foss).

When Captain Morgan was rolled out in 1944, it was the first spiced rum on the market. These days the Captain's roster of bottles includes classics like Spiced and Private Stock, along with more out-there flavors like Gingerbread rum and little bomb-shaped shots called Loconuts.

Branding has been a big part of Captain Morgan's appeal since the beginning

Branding has been a big part of Captain Morgan's appeal since the beginning, and early ads (via Flickr) pictured an illustrated Captain peering over an icy cocktail, with information on how to order your own recipe book by mail. In the '80s, the Captain could be seen (via Pinterest) standing behind a lineup of frozen coladas and daiquiris.

In recent years, Captain Morgan caught a bit of heat for commercials that were said to encourage bad behavior (via Marketing Week). This particular ad was geared towards the UK market and was ultimately pulled for "linking alcohol with daringness and toughness."

The latest face of Captain Morgan is comedian Adam Devine, of Workaholics and Modern Family fame. He signed on to be the brand's Chief Party Officer, and is the face of the Live Like a Captain campaign that commenced with a TV spot featuring a room full of captains convivially greeting each other at a house party (via Ad Age).