The United States’ Largest Rum Producer is This Ohio City

Ohio, with its rich history in rum production dating back to colonial times, is now home to the leading rum-producing city in the U.S. – Marietta. This city, situated in Washington County near Columbus, is recognized for its significant contribution to the rum industry, both domestically and internationally.

Historical Roots of Rum Production in Ohio

  1. Early Significance of Alcohol in Marietta: In the early settlement days of Marietta and the Ohio country, alcohol, including rum, was considered a basic necessity for survival. The settlers’ priorities included not just food, shelter, and protection but also alcohol, given its perceived health benefits and morale-boosting properties​​​​​​.
  2. Rum as a Staple in Colonial America: Rum’s origins can be traced back to the industrial byproduct of sugar production – molasses. This discovery was significant as it led to the flourishing of the rum industry in North America by the early 18th century​​.
  3. Growth of the Rum Industry in the Northeast: In the 1700s, the North American rum industry expanded rapidly, with distilleries like those in Boston producing large quantities of rum. By 1717, Boston alone was producing 200,000 gallons of rum annually. This burgeoning industry was facilitated by the availability of molasses and the growth of the slave trade​​.
  4. Decline After the Revolutionary War: The number of distilleries in America dwindled significantly after the Revolutionary War. By 1800, American distilleries were producing only 45% of their 1790 output, leading to the gradual decline of rum’s popularity in favor of whiskey. The shift towards whiskey production was particularly notable along the Ohio River Valley​​.

Marietta: Ohio’s Rum Producing City

  1. Marietta’s Emergence as a Rum Hub: Today, Marietta stands out as Ohio’s premier rum-producing city. With ten rum distilleries, it constitutes 80% of all such establishments in the state. Marietta has introduced 15 new rum products since 2011, showcasing a high level of innovation among local rum artisans​​.
  2. Comparison with Other Cities in Ohio: While Columbus, the state’s capital and largest city, ranks as the second most significant rum-producing city in Ohio, it falls short compared to Marietta in terms of product introductions. Larger cities like Toledo and Cleveland have a limited presence in the rum industry, with each hosting only one distillery​​.
  3. Current Challenges and Potential Solutions: Despite its status as a leading rum producer, Marietta faces challenges common to many small towns in the U.S., such as economic decline and social issues. To enhance the city’s future prospects, suggested strategies include investing in infrastructure, supporting local businesses, and expanding educational opportunities​​.


Marietta, Ohio, embodies a unique combination of historical significance and modern innovation in the rum industry. From its early days as a necessity for settlers to its current status as the leading rum-producing city in Ohio, Marietta has played a pivotal role in shaping the American rum landscape.

Despite facing contemporary challenges, the city’s rich heritage in rum production remains a testament to its resilience and adaptability, continuing to contribute significantly to the state’s economy and cultural identity.

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