Our Spirits odyssey on this part of the world had to start with Rum, and what a better place to do that than on its supposed origin, Appleton Estate Jamaica. Well this is what the Jamaicans say, but if you go to Barbados Mount Gay was the first and if you ask other experts, Marco Polo in the 15th century spoke about a wine made from sugar when he was in Iran, exactly where distillation was first made. So it is widely accepted that rum comercial production started in the caribbean, either Jamaica, Barbados or other countries. This was the result of the introduction of sugar canes in the very well suited caribbean countries to export to Europe, by the English and also the French and Dutch.
In Jamaica the Appleton Estate is indeed a land estate and it was the first and the biggest producer of Rum in the country, and fortunately is open to public and has a very interesting visit. We managed to get there in the afternoon, which is the best time of the day because the tourist flocks go early, leaving more time for the guides to answer our questions.
As rum is produced from molasses, which is a by-product from sugar cane beating we could see how did they use to extract it using donkeys around a grinding well. It is also possible to see the original pot stills, the warehouses and the actual destillation production, and all of this with a great overview of the estate fields.
The visit starts with a rum punch which is clearly to raise the spirits of the visitors and then continues to the factory where the guide tries to describe the history of the company and the rum making. We were lucky with the guide as he had plenty of patience for all our questions and we can be very annoying.
At the end of the visit the usual tasting, but of course only the entry level rums together with flavoured and other brands they produce in the distillery. Even the famous Wray and Nephew Overproof is produced in this distillery and we had the opportunity to try it but it was quite disappointing not beeing able to try the Master Blender’s Legacy.
Definitively a recommended visit, if not for the legacy of this destillery. We do have to thank the ambition of the colonists in the 16th century to give us the access to so distinct spirit.
So we sipped and continued trekking…