Okay, like the other spirits at Fort Mifflin, we cannot definitively tell whether this rum exists. Some people have had very close and memorable encounters but there are true deniers as well. This is a robust concoction distilled in the manner similar to how John Hancock would have made bootleg rum. Rumbustion is rumpus uproar, a condition rum drinkers frequently found themselves. Rum is drink was so much a part of early American history that by 1775 colonists consumed it at the rate of four gallons a year.

Rum is a distillation of fermented sugar cane or molasses which is a waste product in the production of fine sugar. Invented in the West Indies in the 17th century, rum caught on in the American colonies, where distillers began importing molasses and quickly created a major industry. At its peak in 1770, the colonies imported six million gallons of Caribbean molasses, much of which became rum in New England’s 159 distilleries. The style varied widely, but it was said to be thicker and less sweet than its Caribbean cousin.

When Fort Mifflin was under siege by the Royal Navy, the Americans on ammunition that anyone retrieving a cannonball that could be fired back was promised a gill of rum. In 1777 (from November 10th to the 15th), British troops bombarded the 22-acre fort with more than 10,000 cannon balls, eventually destroying the structure. Inside the fort, a cold, wet and hungry garrison of 400 men suffered 240 casualties in the effort. Eventually, the Americans were forced to evacuate under cover of darkness November 15th, rowing with muffled oars across the river to nearby Fort Mercer. 40 men remained at Fort Mifflin set fire to what was left of the structure, and then joined their comrades. But they left the fort’s flag flying, and they never surrendered.

This rum is a testament to those brave men who fought and died on Mud Island and keep 240 Royal Navy ships from reaching Philadelphia until the Continental Army was firmly entrenched at Valley Forge.

Initial fermentation:

  • 6 pounds cane sugar
  • 5 gallons warm water
  • 0.25 oz distillers yeast

Ferment at room temperature for 5 weeks.


  1. Distilled in a open glass retort with juniper berries and cloves (80% volume reduction).
  2. Distilled second time (50% volume reduction).
Open glass retort


Dissolve 4 oz of dried fruit in the final distillate and mature for at least 6 weeks then filter. Mature in glass with a cork stopper for an additional 6 weeks before serving. Yield is 14 gill at 80 proof.

Please note, the Regimental Brewmeister does not condone home distillation as this practice is still not legal under US Law. We do this as a living history experiment in chemistry not to produce spirits for consumption.

Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

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