Whaling and shipbuilding dominated the New England coast in the 1800s, but rum, the favored drink of seafarers for centuries, was already the region's most popular drink in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War. But with the end of the Atlantic slave trade, and the rise of spirits made from grain, New England's take on the swashbuckling hooch disappeared from the market. Now distilleries from Rhode Island to Maine are bringing back handcrafted rums as stylistically different as they are palatable. "Most of the rum in the world was once made in Newport," says Brent Ryan of the Newport Distilling Co., which began producing its Thomas Tew Rum in 2006. "We wanted to bring back a tradition."
Bully Boy Distillers, Boston Rum (Boston)
Aged in used bourbon barrels for three years, and finished in wine barrels, there is a note of fresh fruit in this faintly red-hued rum. "It's the type of rum they used to make in Boston," says co-founder Dave Willis. "We love the burnt vanilla, butterscotchy flavors." [$33; bullyboydistillers.com]