Sailing toward the islands, Christopher Columbus brings in the West Indies, at the end of the 15th century, the sugar-cane, originally coming from Asia. The first plantations were probably located in the Hispaniola island (Santo Domingo) from where the first sugar shiploads were sent to Spain.
That is only during the 17th century, somewhere around 1640, that an alcohol coming from sugar-cane, or more exactly from molasses, a residue of the sugar manufacture, seems to appear in different islands of the Caribbean (among others islands in Barbados).
In the French West Indies colonies, occupied since 1635, the first piece of writing speaking about an alcohol associated to sugar manufacture is the one of Father Du Tertre (1667) who fabricates a distilling apparatus for processing the scum and rough syrup (molasses).
In the middle of the 17th century, this alcohol coming from molasses was called guildive (term coming from the British kill-devil) then tafia (African or Amerindian term). A few years later, the term rum (or rhum in French) appeared in the British West Indies.
In 1694, Father Labat invents the alembic (the still). A great number of sugar factories then extend the plant to include a rum distillery.
That alcohol obtained from molasses is a derivative product of the sugar manufacture which by that way increase the value of the important quantities of molasses born of sugar refining.
The French West Indies then became the booster of the development of sugar and rum production.
The industrial rum (or sugar-manufacture rum or as well sugar mill molasses rum) designates therefore the alcohol resulting from distillery of molasses.
An independent rum manufacture activity (independent of the sugar manufacture) was born in Martinique (French West Indies) during the second half of the 19th century. That was at this moment that the distilling column (which allow a continuous distilling) appeared and start to replace the still.
At the end of the 19th century, confronted with the collapse of the sugar rates, other markets must be found. Hence appears the idea of producing a new rum, the agricultural rum (or habitant rum), alcohol obtained by distilling the fresh, fermented cane juice.
This alcohol coming from the fresh, fermented cane juice is called Cachaça in Brazil. It differs from the agricultural rum in particular by a longer fermentation process.