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Welcome to Amazing Tap Handles - The Tap Handle Museum. Here you will find photos of the Museum's collection of beer taps, along with brewery info. Have a look around the Museum, and use the contact form in sidebar to leave me feedback about the site, talk about taps, or if you have a rare tap handle you'd like to sell to the Museum. I'd love to hear from you! Please, no inquires about buying taps - they're not for sale.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tap Handle #567: Captain Morgan - Original Spiced Rum

Tap size:  11.75"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

The Captain Morgan tap dates back to the period when Seagrams owned the brand. Featuring the iconic image created by artist Don Maitz, this bust of the Captain sits on a stone base (or should I say resin made to look like stone). The Captain is holding a barrel, and just below is a sign with sculpted letters that reads "Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum". On the back are the letters S and C and the year "'03". This tap was made for a distributor in St. Louis called Major Brands; it was a commissioned piece and very few were ever made. I've only seen two others, and the price was very high for both.

Sir Henry Morgan (1635 - 1688) was a British privateer, buccaneer, and admiral of the Royal Navy. Morgan came to Jamaica in 1658 as a young man, and raised himself to fame and fortune by his valor. In late 1665 Morgan commanded a ship in the old privateer Edward Mansfield's expedition sent by Sir Thomas Modyford, the Governor of Jamaica. They seized the islands of Providencia and Santa Catalina Island, Colombia. When Mansfield was captured by the Spanish and executed shortly afterward, the privateers elected Morgan as their admiral. Morgan's exploits soon became legendary, as he looted Spanish settlements and ships despite orders not to antagonize the Spanish, who the English were at peace with. However, the Governor of Jamaica handed several commissions to Morgan in an attempt to gain wealth and power while ignoring the Crown. Morgan proved to be adept, heroic and cunning, winning battles in Cuba, Panama, Venezuela, and on the high seas. In one case he found a slow-burning explosive trap waiting for him and his crew in an abandoned fortress; Morgan  snatched away the lit match near the powder train saving himself and his men. In another case he and his men hollowed out logs, filled them with explosives, put them in a boat and dressed them to look like a pirate crew. The twelve men who manned the ship were instructed to throw grappling hooks into the rigging of a Spanish ship so that it couldn’t sail away; the plan worked and the Spanish ship was destroyed.

After the sack of Panama City, which violated the 1670 peace treaty between England and Spain, Morgan was arrested and conducted to the Kingdom of England in 1672. He proved he had no knowledge of the treaty. When Spanish and English relations deteriorated, Morgan was knighted in 1674 before returning to Jamaica the following year to take up the post of Lieutenant Governor. By 1681, Governor Morgan had fallen out of favor with King Charles II, and was replaced by a long-time political rival. He gained considerable weight and a reputation for rowdy drunkenness. An account of Morgan's disreputable exploits was published by Alexandre Exquemelin, who once had been his confidante. Morgan took steps to discredit the book and successfully brought a libel suit against the book's publishers, securing a retraction and damages of two hundred English pounds. The book nonetheless contributed much to Morgan's reputed fame as a bloodthirsty pirate. Soon afterward he was diagnosed with "dropsie", but may have contracted tuberculosis in London, and died in 1688. He was buried in Palisadoes cemetery, which sank beneath the sea after an earthquake in 1692.

Click through to read more about Captain Morgan and the brand's Original Spiced Rum, and to see more photos of this dashing tap...

The Captain Morgan Rum Company was created in 1944 by the Seagram Company. Seagram CEO Samuel Bronfman purchased a distillery named Long Pond from the Jamaican government. Among the buyers of raw rum from the Long Pond distillery was a Kingston pharmacy named Levy Brothers. The Levy family had been purchasing raw rum, adding medicinal herbs and spices, aging, and bottling it. Bronfman liked the rum product and bought the rights to it. The name came from Sir Henry Morgan, the buccaneer that was a popular and historical figure in Jamaican lore. In the 1950s the governments of both the United States and its Puerto Rico commonwealth territory instituted a number of job creation programs in Puerto Rico. Taxes on rum entering the contiguous 48 states from Puerto Rico were made lower than those on rum coming from foreign countries. At this time both Seagram's and the Bacardi family built large new plants near San Juan.

In 1984, Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum was introduced to the United States. Captain Morgan is, by volume, the second largest brand of spirits in the United States, and the seventh largest worldwide. In 2007, most of the 7.6 million 9-liter cases produced were sold in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, South Africa, and Global Travel. The likeness of the Captain Morgan character was created by award winning artist Don Maitz.

In 1985, Seagrams sold its rum distillery and manufacturing facilities in Camuy and Arecibo to Destilería Serrallés, a Puerto Rican company that had been producing the Don Q brand in Puerto Rico since 1865. As part of the contract, Seagrams also licensed to Serralles the rights to produce and distribute the "Captain Morgan" brand in Puerto Rico and the rest of the Caribbean until 2012. In 2001, Seagrams sold the "Captain Morgan" brand to Diageo. Diageo made an announcement in 2008, that it intended to build and operate a new rum distillery on St. Croix, Virgin Islands beginning in 2010. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands bickered over the proposed move. The matter came to a head when it created a debate in the United States Congress over the Virgin Islands' attempt to use tax benefits to lure the company.

Captain Morgan's Rum is distilled from sugar cane. The combination of the type of yeasts employed for fermentation, distillation method, aging conditions, and blending determines the characteristic flavor of rum. Made with molasses, water, mash and yeast, Captain Morgan Original Spiced rum is distilled in a continuous still. Once distilled, the clear spirit is aged in oak barrels for up to a year, adding a golden color and character to the rum before the flavors and spices are added. The brand’s taste is achieved through a proprietary recipe, which is blended into the rum mixture at the final stages of production, making use of spices indigenous to the Caribbean Islands.

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