We tend to think of Rum as a sipping spirit, but in Jamaica it’s served as a toasting drink, the ideal cooler on a hot summer evening. Our friends at the VineBar have been inspired by this and created a Rum cocktail that will keep you cool on any occasion.
Anyone who has ever enjoyed a cocktail or two has likely heard of Appleton Estate Rum , the best-selling rum on the planet. It’s a name we’re all familiar with, but how did it get to be so successful? Rum and history go hand-in-hand, and the story of Appleton Estate Rum is one of style and the power of human curiosity.
On the banks of Kingston Harbour, the Victoria & Albert museum has been home to some of the country’s most valuable works of art. But the V&A is currently on the brink of extinction. Rum has been the principal export of Jamaica since the mid-18th century. In the early days of colonialism, the British way of life was imported to Jamaica, with rum one of the most significant exports.
According to Alexander Kong, Jamaican rum has a distinct “funk” that cannot be found in other rums.
“Jamaican rum has a personality that comes through, much like our cuisine and music,” he adds. “The rum is indicative of that character and goes hand-in-hand with the entire Jamaican vibe.”
Kong works as the commercial sales manager of Worthy Park Estate, a distillery in St. Catherine parish, some 40 miles south of Kingston, Jamaica’s capital. According to him, Worthy Park is the area’s largest employment.
For many Jamaicans, homegrown companies like Wray & Nephew, Appleton and Rumabar are not just brands, and rum is not just a drink. Rum is part of the island’s identity, with huge historical, cultural and economic impact.
According to Kong, rum is “inextricably linked to the island’s culture.” “We drink it in tinctures when we’re sick or to commemorate a loved one’s death. We need to consider it in the context of all the other cultural and economic factors that it supports.”
Jamaica’s Worthy Park Estate / Photo by Max Kelly
According to some estimates, Jamaica has more rum bars per square mile than any other nation. The agriculture sector is one of the country’s biggest jobs, and the main crop is sugarcane, which is necessary for rum production. Spirit exports contribute approximately $145.3 million to the Jamaican economy and account for half of all alcohol sales on the island, according to statistics.
The limestone soil of Jamaica is ideal for producing sugarcane, which can be processed into molasses, a major component in rum. To make a strong, powerful spirit, the molasses is fermented in huge barrels known as puncheons and then distilled in pot stills.
Max Kelly’s photo of the Worthy Park Estate distillery
Following Great Britain’s colonization of Jamaica in the 17th century, the industry took off. Sugar barons, or British plantation owners, enslaved their workers and therefore made huge profits by selling sugarcane without paying for labor.
Following the liberation of enslaved persons in 1838 as a consequence of the Slavery Abolition Act, which was originally enacted by British Parliament in 1833, the rum business collapsed. Many plantations saw revenues drop and were forced to shut due to the lack of forced labor. Appleton Estate, Hampden Estate, Worthy Park Estate, Long Pond Estate, and Clarendon are the five original plantations that still exist today.
For many Jamaicans, homegrown companies like Wray & Nephew, Appleton and Rumabar are not just brands, and rum is not just a drink.
“The island’s history is based on sugar because of colonization, and rum is simply one of the byproducts,” Kong explains. “It’s simply grown up with the people and the island, and it’s been ingrained in the culture.”
In the twentieth century, production resumed. Rum became quite popular in the United States, and for a while, America had to rely on Cuba for its supply. Following the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and the subsequent embargo, Americans flocked to neighboring Caribbean islands. The number of distilleries in Jamaica has increased once again.
Appleton Estate’s sugar cane plantations in Jamaica | Photo courtesy of Appleton Estate
Tania Parchment’s great-grandfather started his own alcohol distribution business in Jamaica’s Manchester Parish in the early twentieth century after seeing the potential of rum sales.
“I have fond memories of going there and helping with the business when I was on school holidays,” she says “I remember being shocked at how much money we were making. We sold truckloads, after truckloads, after truckloads of Wray & Nephew, and any other rum that was produced in Jamaica. We would open at 6:00 a.m., and by 2:00 p.m., we would close the business down because we’d made so much money.”
Parchment, like Kong, thinks that Jamaicans value the history and character of their national spirit.
She adds, “Rum simply has a way with everyone.” “We know our rum is excellent quality in Jamaica since we’ve been drinking it for a long time and helped to make it happen.”
(The Vine Bar) – As you can probably tell from the title of this post, I have recently discovered the joys of rum. And by rum, I mean the possession and enjoyment of rum. Not the other rum. The other rum. You know, that other rum. I’m talking about the myopic, beelzebub-spawned, devil’s brew of the Caribbean. The one that is best known in the Western world as an essential ingredient in the punch that landed the good ship of British colonialism, the HMS “Plymouth”, in the Caribbean.. Read more about appleton estate rum and let us know what you think.
This article broadly covered the following related topics:
- jamaican rum
- appleton rum
- appleton estate jamaica rum
- who owns appleton rum
- who owns wray and nephew