The firm dates back to 1749, making it the second oldest rum distillery in the world.
By J.M. Towers
Sugar production in Jamaica
Rum is the liquor obtained from the distillation of the fermented juice of sugar cane, brought to Europe by the Arabs via Spain.
The first Spanish settlers would take sugarcane to the Americas, where they began to cultivate it, with a much more favorable climate for both cane production and for rum. A few years later, when the French and the British settled in the lands of the Caribbean, specifically in the West Indies, the cultivation of sugar was adopted and with it came all its derivatives.
In the mid-seventeenth century, the British colonists began to cultivate sugar cane in Jamaica, and in a short time, the island became the first nation in the world to export sugar and, subsequently, rum.
It is said that by the late 19th century, shortly before the Prohibition, there were 148 distilleries operating on the island, only a few of which are still in operation today.
One of the most famous is the Appleton Estate, a firm that dates back to 1749, making it the second oldest rum distillery in the world, right after Mount Gay, founded in Barbados, in 1703.
Appleton Estate is located on the south coast of Jamaica, in the parish of Santa Catalina, just above the small town of Maggotty.
It is situated in the heart of the country, in a graceful place known as Cockpit Country, a valley surrounded by low limestone hills that were formed as a result of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
Behind the hills, in the Valley of Nassau, Appleton owns over 4,000 hectares of sugarcane, enough to cover 95% of the distillery’s production. The remaining 5% is purchased from small local farmers. The harvest takes place once a year—between January and April—although the molasses obtained are preserved throughout the year.
Appleton Estates production, cultivation and transportation of sugarcane
Appleton uses ten types of natural sugarcane, meaning it is not genetically modified. At the end of the harvest, the cane is processed, and the resulting molasses is taken to the distillery for fermentation. The addition of the exclusive Appleton yeast brings a unique flavor to their different rums.
The distillation begins in copper crucibles, followed by a second distillation in steel stills. The result is a delightful rum of light spirits and velvety and elegant flavors.
Appleton Estate produces five types of rums: Signature Blend, Reserve Blend, Rare Blend 12 years Old, 21 Year Old Jamaica Rum and the jewel in the crown, the 50 Year Old Jamaica Independence Reserve Rum, a rare distillate of limited production: only 800 bottles exist. This patriotic spirit was created to commemorate the half-century of the independence of Jamaica.
Appleton Estates produces some of the best rum in the world.
This exclusive rum is made with a selection of vintages that are at least 50 years old. It shows a superb dark mahogany color with coppery highlights and aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, maple and orange peel. The palate is exceptionally smooth, with a delicate flavor that evokes honey and oak. A masterpiece whose price is estimated at more than $5,000, and symbolizes the excellence of a distillery that—for over 260 years—has been producing the best rum in Jamaica.
Photos by: © J. Wray & Nephew Limited 2016. ■
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