Let's Go To Rum Country!
Bar NoneThursday, June 13, 2019
with Debbiann Spence-Minott
Jamaica is renowned for having some of the best rums in the world! After the euphoria of the Jamaica Rum Festival held earlier this year, I committed to exploring some of the distilleries we do not often hear of, and sharing with you the rich historical legacy discovered. My rum explorers were 15 strong and we set out to discover one of the six remaining distilleries in Jamaica — Worthy Park Estate (WPE), home of Rum-Bar Rum. Our journey had us reminiscing as we traversed across Flat Bridge and along the Bog Walk Road, which for many of us was our first experience since the new highway. We then made our way to Ewarton, made a left at the sports complex then began our ascent to Worthy Park Estate located 1,200 feet above sea level in the cool hills of Lluidas Vale, St Catherine.
We were met with warm smiles by Visitor Centre & Tour Supervisor Shunna-Gay Mitchell and Marketing Manager Tamika West, who promised a day of discovery and insight. We were not disappointed. Our expert host Mitchell ensured our knowledge basket was never empty. Worthy Park Estate (WPE) was established in 1670, which makes the property 349 years old in 2019. WPE's earliest record of rum production is in 1741, years before any existing distillery in Jamaica. In 2005, WPE opened a new state-of-the-art distillery boasting technology not found in older operations. The Clarke family purchased WPE in 1918 and the operation has remained under their control ever since.
Do you remember how rum is made? Well, simply put, sugar cane is harvested, crushed to extract the juices, and boiled resulting in the creation of wet sugar (sugar and molasses). A centrifugal system is used to separate the molasses from the sugar crystals. The molasses is diluted with limestone-filtered water and proprietary yeast is added, resulting in the creation of alcohol and carbon dioxide (fermentation). The spirit of the liquid is extracted through distillation using a still. Thereafter, the rums may be aged, blended and bottled.
At Worthy Park Estate, the rum-making process is similar, but it is the fermentation and distillation processes that are rather fascinating. Fermentation: The water that is used in the process comes from a limestone aquifer. WPE is the only distillery in Jamaica that uses its own molasses to make rum. Three different types of yeast are used in fermentation. Pre-fermentation of wild, natural yeast takes place in tanks made from American White Oak. Distillation: Distillation is the process that separates the rum made in the fermentation stage from the waste; however, the distillation stage does affect the flavour of the rum. Pot still type rum has more flavour than column still rum. Worthy Park uses only pot still distillation, which makes the traditional Jamaican heavy-bodied type of rum. The sill used at Worthy Park was manufactured by Forsyths, in Scotland. It is a double retort pot still made of 100% copper.
Gordon Clarke, managing director of Worthy Park Estate, shared that Worthy Park has more documented and undisputed history and heritage than any other rum brand in the world.
No other rum brand has the length and depth of heritage that it has and to top that off, most of those other brands don't even have a sugar plantation. Clarke indicated further that “when you combine our undisputed history and our vertical integration, we are unmatched. To prove this, we have on display a book printed in 1970, called A Jamaican Plantation, A History of Worthy Park 1670-1970 being the first 300 years.
“Apart from the length of our history, we also boast being the most efficient sugar producer in Jamaica for over 50 years. Worthy Park is the benchmark in the sugar industry and the efficiency of our farm and outside farmers is evident in the fact that our cane yield, cane quality and factory efficiency are by far the best in Jamaica, and although we are one of the smallest factories in the island, we have been the highest producer of sugar for the past two years. Best quality cane, best quality molasses, best quality rum”.
What We Tasted
Rum-Bar Silver — A sweet and fragrant unaged rum, the nose is full of tropical, fruity flavours dominated by banana with hints of citrus and vanilla.
Rum-Bar White Overproof — One of Jamaica's premium White Overproof rums. On the nose the banana notes dominate with a beautiful balance of other exotic fruit.
Rum-Bar Gold — The sweetness of banana and stewed apples prevails on the nose. The fruits dominate the palate whilst the four aged years enable this rum to benefit from oak interaction, also giving a vanilla and treacle-like sweetness.
Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve — An authentic and traditional Jamaican rum and the first release under the Worthy Park range of bottlings. A blend of 100% copper pot-still rums that have been aging between six and 10 years. The Single Estate Reserve Rum has been recognised as a 5-star rum at the top of the Gargano-Seale classification.
Rum-Bar Rum Cream — A blend of Rum-Bar white overproof rum with 100% real cream.
The brand is distributed in Jamaica by the Wisynco Group Limited and has international distribution in the United States of America, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean.
Mitchell is encouraging Jamaicans to visit the estate as the Worthy Park Estate is the newest rum tour attraction in Jamaica that takes you on an edutainment journey of the estate's rich history and heritage. The Worthy Park Estate is Jamaica's oldest sugar factory and rum producer and has the most modern state-of-the art distillery that produces 100% pot still rums. At WPE all the processing and production takes place right on property and is fully owned and operated by Jamaicans. Local groups are facilitated Monday, Wednesday and Friday at US$20.00 per person with a valid Jamaican ID. The approximate duration of the tour is 1½ hours and takes place normally at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm.
Imagine if we embraced life's moments big and small, without reservation. Together, we might fill the world with contagious joy. Please share with meyour wines, spirits and cocktail experiences or comments on the above article at email@example.com, or follow me on IG @debbiansm #barnoneja.
An Alumna of the US Sommelier Association
CEO of the Academy of Bartending, Spirits & Wines
President – Jamaica Union of Bartenders and Mixologists (JUBAM) Limited