Tradition has it that the rum is tasted neat, but there are those who love to drink it with ice, or use it to prepare fantastic cocktails. Whatever the choice, what does not vary, is that rum has now conquered the whole world. Starting from an unspecified "Indo-Chinese" area, where it is said that a first fermented drink similar to rum was produced, today we know that this "nectar" comes from the Caribbean. In a document dated 1651, a citation appears for the first time referring to an alcoholic drink called “the devil killer”, a terrible and infernal distillate. Jamaicans immediately glimpsed the potential of this powerful alcohol and perfected its distillation to the point of producing drinks that still boast many awards today.
The production of Jamaican rum it is only a few years later than the one that first developed in Barbados and then the history of Jamaican rum it is one of the oldest and most fascinating. From the birth of the first distilleries, (the foundation date of the Appleton distillery dates back to 1749) the history of Jamaican rum tells of a distillate that was originally drunk by the slaves who worked the plantations, up to our days and growing success international distillate. One of the best rums is in fact Jamaican rum, which according to many people holds the record for the best rum in the world!
The taste of Jamaica rum is given by sugar cane, which in Jamaica meets a favorable climate and gives the product a completely unique taste. In addition to the raw material, there are other unique characteristics of Jamaican rum, which must be sought in the traditional processing techniques that have been handed down within the companies, often headed for centuries by the same families who founded them. Jamaican rum is still a witness, in its best expressions, of how the first rums of the English school were made and in many ways it can be said that Jamaican rum is among the most faithful to the concept of rum of the origins. The growing worldwide interest in artisanal products adhering to ancient production techniques has recently brought Jamaican rum to the fore, decreeing its success even outside the world of mixology, which at the beginning of the 900th century already used Jamaican rum for cocktails such as zombie. To date, Jamaican rum is exported to 70 different countries around the world.
Jamaican rum is now known around the world for historic rum brands such as Rum Hampden and Rum Appleton, founded even more than 250 years ago. In those years, we are talking about the mid-700s, there were hundreds of Jamaican rum distilleries associated with the cane plantations that produced and exported sugar all over the world. Jamaican rum, on the other hand, produced from molasses that is from a residue from the processing of sugar cane, was consumed only locally or by the sailors of the Royal Navy for the daily ration (the Tot) which was distributed by the British navy.
With the introduction of beet sugar on the market and the abolition of slavery, cane sugar became less and less affordable. So the sugar factories and consequently the producers of Jamaican rum dropped drastically, but they continued to produce - especially for the local market - rum with high alcohol content. Due to their high alcohol content, Jamaican rum was also exported to a small extent to be blended and bottled with poorer quality spirits. Even today a distinction can be made between Jamaican rum for local use and Jamaican rum for the foreign market: while the type of Jamaican rum most sold in the country is white, not aged, overproof, with an alcohol content between 60% and 65%, the one most viewed abroad - especially in English-speaking countries - is dark and has a lower alcohol content.
There are many types that can be defined as Jamaica rums. You go to the one of daily use on the island, which as mentioned is an unaged white Jamaica rum, to be drunk with ice or in a typical Ting & Wray (popular cocktail on the island consisting of a citrus soda and the famous rum Wray & Nephew Overproof) to aged and more complex rums, the famous “heavy rums” for which Jamaica rum has become famous. The definition of “Heavy” for Jamaican rum derives from the distillation method, which being carried out at low temperatures, produces rums loaded with esters, ie particles that give it strong, almost pungent aromas and flavors.
Many of Jamaica rums, including the famous Hampden Rum the one that best represents the true soul of these types of rums, in addition to the distillation system, they also report on the label the content of esters, as an indicator of the intensity of the flavor. If for many years the market has rewarded Jamaica rum, currently it seems much more oriented towards rums defined as “light” such as those of the Spanish school. Jamaica rum however, a market of customers who are attentive to production methods and the authenticity of the products is being carved out. The fact remains that tasting a real Jamaica rum means having a unique sensory experience, not comparable with the rums commonly found on the market, much easier on the palate, but less fascinating.
Rum from Jamaica like the ruhm AOC Agricultural of Martinique or Ron DOC from Venezuela has adopted a specification that serves to define the common characteristics of the distillates. In the case of Jamaica rum, however, we are not talking about a controlled designation of origin, but a geographical indication. The specification of Rum Jamaica leaves room for different types of raw material, which can be made up of molasses, but also of cane juice, syrup or a combination of these raw materials for distillation, while defining precisely what should be the production area, the water used in the fermentation and distillation process and the type of stills to be used, also certifying the aging of the rums produced. Jamaica rum must be produced in the territory of the Aquifer limestone reservoirs, whose filtered water will also be the only one that can be used for all stages of rum production.
He rum Jamaica it must be distilled with stills composed in the entirety of copper. All Jamaica rums will have to be analyzed analytically and sensory by the Jamaica Rum and Spirits Traders Association Technical Committee which will issue a certificate of approval annually. At the end of distillation, rums that claim the geographical indication "Jamaica Rum" should fall into one of the following categories: "unaged" Jamaica rums do not require aging; the “aged” Jamaica rums are aged in small oak barrels and stored under the supervision of the Jamaican excise office. The rum should be colorless except when the color is derived from the oak wood during maturation or from the caramel produced from cane sugars. Finally, the minimum age of these Jamaica rums must be certified by the Jamaican Excise Officer.
Why Jamaican rum is so good
It all depends on the processing and the ingredients of course; Jamaica still uses a particular 17th century method which is based on the fermentation of molasses in "puncheon", huge barrels, and the subsequent distillation step in pot stills. This type of processing makes the Jamaican rum full-bodied and unique in its kind and the absence of sugars, which legally in Jamaica cannot be added to rum, makes us understand how the the resulting taste is totally natural.
Another particular function covers the water used, this is in fact loaded with a type of limestone that we find in the rocks of the island, rich in minerals. These unique factors, combined with the use of natural yeast and the aging process, in oak barrels, give life to a exceptional drink that stands out from other rums. The aromas that are released from the best Jamaican rums (wood, smoke, gum, spices, molasses and caramel) will blow your mind for this alcoholic wonder.
Taste a Jamaican rum
It is said that true connoisseurs taste excellent dry rum to feel its aromas and flavors well. Jamaican rum everyone agrees thanks to its natural sweetness and rich flavor suitable both for solitary tasting and for use in creating wonderful cocktails.
The rum, once bottled, does not age anymore, but it could change and lose some characteristics, for this reason, Jamaican rum, as well as rum in general, should always be stored in the dark and away from sunlight in a possibly dry place that does not exceed 20 degrees.