Three distilleries in the Caribbean and South America are producing eco-friendly alcohol.

   Have you ever stopped to think about the environmental impact of the rum in your Cuba Libre? Have you ever wondered whether your drinking habits are (environmentally) sustainable?
    If you haven’t, don’t worry. Most of us don’t think about how the rum we are downing Jack Sparrow-style was made.
    Thankfully, the makers of those rums have been thinking about it for you. Rum companies across South America and the Caribbean have been modifying their factories, reducing their emissions and reusing the byproduct produced so that the only thing left for you to do is recycle the bottle.
    Without further ado, here are three rum companies that have been working to make sure no one will ever have to ask: “Why is the rum gone?”

Flor De Caña

    Flor De Caña is one of my personal favourites: Not only is the dark rum smooth and deliciously spiced, it is also produced by one of the most sustainable distilleries in the world. The company that produces this amazing rum, Compañia Licorera de Nicaragua, was the first company in the country to become ISO 14001 certified[436]. This certification is an environmental management standard that helps companies to understand their impact on the environment and constantly work to change it for the better. The company plants thousands of trees every year[436], conducts a recycling programme that financially benefits the Handicapped Children’s Association[436], and generates 8% of the entire country’s thermal and electric energy needs during sugar cane season[437]. So, yes, you can raise your glass of Flor De Caña a little bit higher next time, knowing that it is one of the greenest rums on the market.

Appleton Estate

    This Jamaican rum is a staple in the northern Caribbean. When you ask for rum, you automatically get Appleton unless you remind the bartender that there are other brands on the shelf behind him. Since so many people love Appleton rum, it is very fortunate that the company has gone a long way in reducing its environmental impact. Last year, the distillery fully embraced what it calls “Green Cane Harvesting”, a method of harvesting that does not involve burning the fields[438]. The distillery also uses different by-products of the distillation process to make its own fertiliser and power its emission-free boiler[438]. Did you hear that sound after you took a sip of your Appleton? That was the earth thanking you.


    Papagayo is a USDA Certified Organic, cooperatively run, Fair Trade Certified rum produced in Paraguay[439]. Not only, therefore, is this distillery better for the environment, its better for its workers and your health. By not relying on chemicals and pesticides, the possibility of toxic run-off is completely eliminated. Without really wanting to go all science-y on you, I need to explain that toxic run-off is bad because once it enters the food chain, those toxins can be bio-amplified from prey to predator all the way up to us[440]. Is there a better argument to go organic? Well, take a sip of Papagayo and you might find one.

Although these are the top three rums on my list, a special shout-out goes to Mount Gay rum in Barbados which is doing a lot more than most Caribbean distilleries by providing incentives for consumers to recycle their bottles[441]. I’ll take a drink to that!