|Map of Jamaika, 1671, from Johannem Ogiluium|
Every German thinks immediately of one nation when he hears the word 'rum': It is Jamaica. Germany and Jamaica. For years, there was a special bond that connected both countries. The "German Rum Market", which originated in the late 19th century, existed until the beginning of the first industrial mass murder: the First World War. During this war, and even in the years beyond, Jamaican Rum was cut off from the access to the German market and the restrictions ceased the trade between the nations.
When sugar in Jamaica reached its peak, there were more than 800 sugar estate and small plantations, which grew sugarcane. However, those were very small plantations. Large central estates with big factories, as there existed quite earlier in Guyana, only began to form in the 20th century on Jamaica. During the sugar crisis of the 19th century, especially in 1884-85, the Jamaican sugar estate tended either to abandon the production of sugar and planted instead eg bananas, or they neglected the production of muscovade sugar and started to focus on the production of rum. The reason: the shaping of the German Rum Market. German scouts roamed the island in search of extreme aromatic rums, which could be used for further "production" in Germany. In 1889, the import duty for Jamaican rum was significantly raised in the German Empire and this reduced the trading with Jamaica in one fell swoop. The solution to make this high import costs bearable for the customer were these highly-concentrated rums. These aromatic and high-ester-containing rums were shipped to the Germany (Flensburg) and was there stored, aged and finally mixed with neutral spirits. This rum with a high ester content was never intended to be sipped neat. Ironically, today it is drunk in this state. “Rum-Verschnitt” did the rest for the bad reputation of rum in Germany. But the fact is: In the past the Jamaican distilleries produced world-class rum. It was them who increased the fermentation period up to 21 days. However, there was even then reports about the "abnormal stench" in the distilleries, which could spoil the enjoyment of rum for the rest of life.
The “Rum-Verschnitt” helped the Jamaican sugar estate through their distilleries to withstand the crises on the sugar market. At least until 1930. Until then, many estates acted not as sugar factories, but as rum factories. Thereafter, the remaining estates had either to adopt a more efficient method of sugar production, towards the use of vacuum bpan process for the production of a white sugar and away from the process of open boilers (Common Process), in which the sugar juice was just cooked and which could produce only wet muscovado, or they gave the cultivation of sugarcane entirely. So the first central sugar factories emerged in the 20th century in Jamaica. Trinidad and British Guiana were much more quicker and more efficiently in that way. But the reason was in the fact that Jamaican rum made this approximation process at first unnecessary. There was no need for improvments. Rums of Trinidad and British Guiana were allegedly already at that time in the shadow of the Jamaican rum. I have found reports of derogatory remarks of a Jamaican delegate who denounced the poor quality of these rums and would have prefered to designate rum as "Rum", when it was distilled in a pot still. This man was no friend of the column still, which spread through their efficiency in the Caribbean. He was not able to spread his opinion. The column still appeared even on Jamaica in the 20th century. Nevertheless, Jamaica has remained the stronghold of rum today. How long does it remain that way? Only time will tell.
Today, there are only 4 distilleries. The Innswood distillery was closed down during a reorganisation in 1996. Also the Long Pond Distillery was apparently shut down in 2012 under National Rums of Jamaica. It remains unclear if the distillery will be reactivated ever again, just like it was the case with Hampden, which was closed in 2002 and then reopenend in 2009. The sugar factory of the Long Pond estate is also not working anymore in the actual season (2015-16).
Appelton (+ New Yarmouth)
The following esters values were mentioned by JR McFarlane, Chief Chemist (B. Sc.) of the Caymanas Estates Limited in 1947:
“Common Clean 80 — 150 parts per 100.000 alcohol.
Plummer 150 — 200 parts per 100.000 alcohol.
Wedderburn 200 — 300 parts per 100.000 alcohol.
Flavoured 700 — 1.600 parts per 100.000 alcohol.”
In 1934, a fix maximum for the ester content of rum was determined by the Jamaican government. This maximum limit was at 1,600. For information: The Caymanas Estate was located northeast of Spanish Town, on the border to the adjacent Parish of St. Andrews. I have no knowledge on what these categories are based or why McFarlane has fixed those concentrations. He could, however, have well-oriented them to the former manufacturers. What bothers me is the gap between 300 and 700. Are they strictly speaking still Wedderburn rums or are they already “Flavoured” rums? In time I will tell something about the distilleries of Jamaica. All in due time.
Known Jamaica bottlings