Weekend Traveller Series
Take me to Jamaica Where the Rum Comes From: Appleton Estate Rum Tour
If you are looking for an interesting tour while in Jamaica, I can recommend one that provides history, culture and a shot of toddy at the end. Something for everyone. The Appleton Rum Tour.
As the old sage said, ” The journey is the experience, not the destination.” In this case this is true. We started this bus tour from Negril. The sporadic towns gave way to the lush green valleys and hills of the Jamaican rainforest, with houses dotted on the hill tops. We travelled through Jamaica’s famous Cockpit Country. The hair raising roads, seemingly sized for one small car were expertly navigated by our local large tour bus passing small cars. Passengers who had kept their eyes open to witness this feat were amazed.
Appleton is famous around the world, and sells its rum in at least sixty countries. The estate grounds, located in the Nassau Valley, St Elizabeth Parish, are neatly manicured. Although the tour concentrated on the distillery, the surrounding cane fields seem endless. This this is the oldest sugar estate and distillery in Jamaica.
The day we went to their distillery, the generator had just kicked in as a power outage had just occurred. There was a slight drizzle on this overcast day, which allowed us to appreciate the unique environment that produced Appleton rum.
The historical process, which does not seem to have changed too much is explained in detail. The artifacts from the original production process are on display on the estate grounds, and are incorporated into the tour. Cane was cut, fed into a double centrifuge. The cane juice is extracted. This becomes brown sugar, then molasses. The by products of rum production have fed into food production and every sweet tooth in the world.
There are copper pot stills which give the rum its unique flavor. One of the stills is from the 1500, and still in use today, which shows they don’t make them like they used too. There is also a column still from 1800.
Aging the rum in oak barrels specially burned on the inside, determines the colour of the rum. Dark rum is produced in the oak barrel and colourless rum is produced in the stainless steel tanks. A barrel is not reused if it has had rum in it for over 12 years.
We learned why sugar was king in the Caribbean, and how important the economics of sugar and its by products were to the area.
They save the best until last. For sampling, you are taken to a room, with a dimly lit bar. I was not sure if that had to do with the generator of if it was to create a certain ambiance. There were samples from the company’s amazing repertoire. Fine handcrafted premium rums, to signature rums created by the only female Master Blender in the industry, Joy Spence. Our guide outlined her unique position and how important it was within the company. She personally selects each barrel that goes into the Appleton Estates blend to ensure quality and consistency.
Our guide told us how to recognize premium rum from the packaging, explained the companies relationship to its subsidiaries, which means that this distillery was responsible for a phenomenal amount of the rum in the world. Rum from this distillery goes to over 60 countries, Wray and Nephew, is the parent company. The most expensive rums are not included in the sampling.
The bus waited patiently for the lingerers, who wanted to make sure they tested their rum tasting skills to its full capacity of excellence. You know who you are.
N.B: It is cheaper to purchase your rum Duty Free at the airport before you leave than to buy it from the estate.
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∗ This is NOT a sponsored post.