Bottle #57: Cavalier Antigua Rum Gold

Bottle #57 is Cavalier Antigua Rum Gold. Which differs from Bottle #28 only in that it hasn’t been charcoal filtered, so still has the color from barrel aging. Check out that bottle to read all about its fun brand story and history, including the Portuguese origins of Antiguan rum.

Finding a gold example of this rum didn’t get me any further towards coming up with a date range for it than I’d gotten for Bottle #28. In that episode, I’d suggested early 2000s. It’s in a plastic bottle, so there’s some evaporation, but not nearly so much as my 1980s and 90s plastic bottles, which maybe supports it being of a later vintage? Hmm… I wonder if there’s a set rate of evaporation through plastic bottles and I could use fill level as a proxy for age?

Anyway… I had to find another story to tell you about Cavalier Rum to go with this bottle, so I dove into a research source I wasn’t using yet at the time of Bottle #28 – newspapers.com.

Read the rest of the story

Unfortunately, since newspapers.com relies on OCR, the search results about the rum mostly get swamped with listings for cars: “Antique Cavalier, runs well!” I did find some evidence of it being imported in the US for a while in the 1980s, but that was about it.

Then I spotted an entry from an Australian newspaper in 1921. Buried in the middle of a column, without even a headline, was this opening sentence: “The outbreak of pneumonic influenza in 1919 was remarkable for the almost unanimous opinion expressed by the medical profession on the valuable medicinal properties of alcohol.” The “article” goes on to mention that most well-advertised remedies for seasonal illnesses like colds and coughs contain alcohol, but advises that a far more effective remedy is Cavalier Rum. This exact same ad, disguised as an article, was repeated in several Australian newspapers at the time.

Now, this is not MY Cavalier Rum. The Antigua rum distillery wasn’t even built until 1932, and it wasn’t until 1947 that they sold anything under the Cavalier name. But once I thought about that first sentence a little more and realized they were talking about the 1918 Flu Pandemic (sometimes called the Spanish Flu), I got really curious to see what I could find about how alcohol was used in the last worldwide pandemic before this one!

Alcohol has been used as medicine pretty much since we had alcohol. Most of the traditional words for distilled spirits are some variation on “water of life”: think aquavit and eau-de-vie. Even the word whiskey comes from the Celtic usequebaugh, which means the same thing. For an amazing look at the medicinal history of alcohol, I highly recommend checking out the book Doctors and Distillers by Camper English. It’s educational and entertaining!

There’s a lot of folk medicine and alchemy involved in theories about why alcohol was good for whatever ailed you, but there’s some science too. For instance, well before germ theory people would have noticed that if you applied the “water of life” to a wound, it would heal better and kill some of the pain. So if it was good applied to your outsides, why wouldn’t it be good for your insides too? We know today that the health benefits of consumption are minimal to non-existent, but you can’t blame them for thinking otherwise!

In the US, the American Medical Association had officially come out against alcohol as medicine by 1917. But that didn’t stop people from prescribing it, and that continued well into the 20th century. Way back in Bottle #3 – Hot Shot Tropical Fruit Schnapps – I wrote all about the 1927 Medicinal Spirits Act, which regulated the production and sale of medicinal alcohol during US Prohibition. And by alcohol, I mostly mean whiskey. One my favorite bits of the Medicinal Spirits Act was the finding that “Under existing law, and based on medical experience, most medicinal spirits are unfit for medicinal use until they have been stored in oak charred barrels for at least four years.” I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that it’s tastier that way too.

The 1918 flu pandemic overlapped US Prohibition. The federal law passed in 1919 and went into effect in 1920, but many states were already dry well before that happened. The 1918 influenza was a devastating illness, killing over 50 million people around the world, and medical staff had no effective medicines to treat it with. One article I read talked about nurses dispensing whiskey hot toddies, because that was all they had.

Desperate for solutions, people took to petitioning the government by telegram and letter to release supplies of confiscated whiskey. In some places those appeals were granted. A local sheriff in Omaha, Nebraska released 500 gallons to local hospitals, and the commissioner of the IRS ordered revenue agents in North Carolina to distribute seized whiskey there. I’m not sure any of it actually helped, but perhaps it eased their suffering a little!

So, thanks little bottle of Cavalier Rum, for taking me on that fascinating and unexpected journey. If you want to know more about this bit of history, check out these links!

https://www.history.com/news/1918-flu-pandemic-whiskey-remedy-prohibition

https://www.cntraveller.in/story/spanish-flu-pandemic-whisky-medicine/

https://uncommonwealth.virginiamemory.com/blog/2020/04/03/oh-doctor-flu-and-whiskey-in-1918/

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Bottle #57: Cavalier Antigua Rum Gold

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Bottle #57 is Cavalier Antigua Rum Gold. Which differs from Bottle #28 only in that it hasn’t been charcoal filtered, so still has the color from barrel aging. Check out that bottle to read all about its fun brand story and history, including the Portuguese origins of Antiguan rum.

Finding a gold example of this rum didn’t get me any further towards coming up with a date range for it than I’d gotten for Bottle #28. In that episode, I’d suggested early 2000s. It’s in a plastic bottle, so there’s some evaporation, but not nearly so much as my 1980s and 90s plastic bottles, which maybe supports it being of a later vintage? Hmm… I wonder if there’s a set rate of evaporation through plastic bottles and I could use fill level as a proxy for age?

Anyway… I had to find another story to tell you about Cavalier Rum to go with this bottle, so I dove into a research source I wasn’t using yet at the time of Bottle #28 – newspapers.com. Unfortunately, since newspapers.com relies on OCR, the search results about the rum mostly get swamped with listings for cars: “Antique Cavalier, runs well!” I did find some evidence of it being imported in the US for a while in the 1980s, but that was about it.

Then I spotted an entry from an Australian newspaper in 1921. Buried in the middle of a column, without even a headline, was this opening sentence: “The outbreak of pneumonic influenza in 1919 was remarkable for the almost unanimous opinion expressed by the medical profession on the valuable medicinal properties of alcohol.” The “article” goes on to mention that most well-advertised remedies for seasonal illnesses like colds and coughs contain alcohol, but advises that a far more effective remedy is Cavalier Rum. This exact same ad, disguised as an article, was repeated in several Australian newspapers at the time.

Now, this is not MY Cavalier Rum. The Antigua rum distillery wasn’t even built until 1932, and it wasn’t until 1947 that they sold anything under the Cavalier name. But once I thought about that first sentence a little more and realized they were talking about the 1918 Flu Pandemic (sometimes called the Spanish Flu), I got really curious to see what I could find about how alcohol was used in the last worldwide pandemic before this one!

Alcohol has been used as medicine pretty much since we had alcohol. Most of the traditional words for distilled spirits are some variation on “water of life”: think aquavit and eau-de-vie. Even the word whiskey comes from the Celtic usequebaugh, which means the same thing. For an amazing look at the medicinal history of alcohol, I highly recommend checking out the book Doctors and Distillers by Camper English. It’s educational and entertaining!

There’s a lot of folk medicine and alchemy involved in theories about why alcohol was good for whatever ailed you, but there’s some science too. For instance, well before germ theory people would have noticed that if you applied the “water of life” to a wound, it would heal better and kill some of the pain. So if it was good applied to your outsides, why wouldn’t it be good for your insides too? We know today that the health benefits of consumption are minimal to non-existent, but you can’t blame them for thinking otherwise!

In the US, the American Medical Association had officially come out against alcohol as medicine by 1917. But that didn’t stop people from prescribing it, and that continued well into the 20th century. Way back in Bottle #3 – Hot Shot Tropical Fruit Schnapps – I wrote all about the 1927 Medicinal Spirits Act, which regulated the production and sale of medicinal alcohol during US Prohibition. And by alcohol, I mostly mean whiskey. One my favorite bits of the Medicinal Spirits Act was the finding that “Under existing law, and based on medical experience, most medicinal spirits are unfit for medicinal use until they have been stored in oak charred barrels for at least four years.” I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that it’s tastier that way too.

The 1918 flu pandemic overlapped US Prohibition. The federal law passed in 1919 and went into effect in 1920, but many states were already dry well before that happened. The 1918 influenza was a devastating illness, killing over 50 million people around the world, and medical staff had no effective medicines to treat it with. One article I read talked about nurses dispensing whiskey hot toddies, because that was all they had.

Desperate for solutions, people took to petitioning the government by telegram and letter to release supplies of confiscated whiskey. In some places those appeals were granted. A local sheriff in Omaha, Nebraska released 500 gallons to local hospitals, and the commissioner of the IRS ordered revenue agents in North Carolina to distribute seized whiskey there. I’m not sure any of it actually helped, but perhaps it eased their suffering a little!

So, thanks little bottle of Cavalier Rum, for taking me on that fascinating and unexpected journey. If you want to know more about this bit of history, check out these links!

https://www.history.com/news/1918-flu-pandemic-whiskey-remedy-prohibition

https://www.cntraveller.in/story/spanish-flu-pandemic-whisky-medicine/

https://uncommonwealth.virginiamemory.com/blog/2020/04/03/oh-doctor-flu-and-whiskey-in-1918/

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