Jamaican Rum Distillery Cheat Sheet

People are always asking me what my favorite bottle of rum is. I always tell that it’s like picking your favorite child. I can’t do it. But I do volunteer that funky, fruity, high-hogo Jamaican rums are what I gravitate towards most. Smith & Cross, Appleton 21, Wray & Nephew Overproof, Rum Fire. I love them all!

Sadly, as I write this, I’ve never been to a Jamaican rum distillery. That’s about to change soon though. Thanks to the Authentic Caribbean Rum program (part of WIRSPA), I’m headed to Jamaica to tour just about every operating rum distillery on the island. A true dream trip for a rum nerd like me.

I always do my homework when opportunities like this arise. I’d read about many different Jamaican distilleries, but keeping them all straight can be a challenge. Who’s still operating? Who owns them? What brands are made in each of them? To help me keep things straight, I wonked out, chasing down as many details as I could find, and compiled the results in the cheat sheet below. It’s not intended as a comprehensive history of Jamaican distilleries, nor does it cover every single associated brand. Instead, it’s about who’s currently producing rum in Jamaica, what are their most well-known brands, and a bit of relevant recent history where needed.

I’ve cited as many sources as I can via links, but it’s entirely possible some sources are out of date. If you see something egregiously wrong, don’t hesitate to drop me an email or comment. I’ll correct ASAP!

Update (4/8/2016): My post for each distillery we visited are here:

General Notes

  • At one time there were dozens of distilleries on Jamaica, but due to hard times and consolidation, it’s dwindled down to six or so.
  • The biggest selling style of rum in Jamaica is unaged, white overproof, coming in at 63%-65% ABV. Nearly every distillery makes a version of this style.
  • Jamaica has a national sugar pool. The intent is to provide the consistent best price for producers. Sugar producers (including the distilleries below) sell sugar into the pool. Distilleries then purchase molasses from the pool.

Appleton / J. Wray & Nephew

Distilleries

Associated Brands

Notes

  • Established in 1749. Around 70% market share in Jamaica.
  • While Appleton is the most well-known name, its parent company is J. Wray & Nephew.
  • Wray & Nephew is owned by Gruppo Campari.
  • Wray & Nephew Overproof distilled at New Yarmouth.
  • Coruba is different in Europe than elsewhere in the world.

Hampden Estate/Everglades Farms Limited

Distilleries

Associated Brands

Notes

  • Rum Fire is Hampden’s equivalent to Wray & Nephew Overproof.
  • Creators of the DOK high overproof, the highest ester rum in the world.
  • They also sell bulk rum to E&A Scheer, among others.
  • Also supply to the baking, candy and cosmetics industries; similar to E&A Scheer.
  • Although Everglade Farms operates the Long Pond sugar estate, they do not produce rum at Long Pond (See National Rums of Jamaica, below)
  • Owned by the Hussey family.

National Rums of Jamaica

Distilleries

  • Long Pond
  • Monymusk (Clarendon Distillers Ltd.)
  • Innswood (Possibly an aging only facility)

Associated Brands

Notes

  • Owned by a trio of partners (33.3 % each)
    • National Sugar Company Ltd (Jamaica, state-owned)
    • Demerara Distillers Ltd of (Guyana, best known for El Dorado)
    • West Indies Rum Distillery (Barbados, best known for Cockspur)
  • 60% of Jamaica’s bulk export market, 11M absolute liters of alcohol annually.
  • The vast majority of the production is bulk-exported.
  • Diageo is a major purchaser of NRJ rums for Captain Morgan, Myers
  • Monymusk is 73% owned by NRJ, 27% owned by Diageo (via Trelawny Estates Ltd.)
  • Monymusk has competing products to the Appleton line.
  • Port Royal Gold is from Long Pond, while Port Royal white is from Monymusk
  • Diageo owns 49% of Clarendon Distillers Ltd.
  • Vale Royal distillery (see Bristol Classic Rum) bought by Long Pond in 1955.
  • Clarendon distillery got a major overhaul in 2010.

Worthy Park Estate

Distilleries

Associated Brands

Notes

  • Started in 1741.
  • Shut down in 1962.
  • Restarted production in 2005 with a brand new distillery. First Rum-Bar products in 2007.
  • Does not use a dunder pit.
  • Exports bulk rum.
  • Good additional backstory.
  • Bacardi sells a Single Cane Estate rum from Worthy Park.
  • Mezan Jamaica 2005 is from Worthy Park.

 

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12 thoughts on “Jamaican Rum Distillery Cheat Sheet”

  1. Great article. The ownership structures in Jamaica are very confusing. A friend brought me back a bottle of JB Charley’s overproof. I tried to find information on it and could only track it down to Trelawny rum co. They appear to only be bottlers and my latest search shows they are now owned by W&N.

    On another.note with all the rum produced in Jamaica it is surprising that only a small variety of aged rum is available on the island. I understand many producers concentrate on the bulk market but other than Appleton the pickings are slim.

  2. How would you characterise each distillery’s style of rum, after you’ve been there? Do they all make that funky juice we all crave? Or do they all make different styles at the same distillery?
    I’m asking because I just bought a 12 year old from Monymusk Distillery, and I found it to be a bit light and definitely not as ester-y like Smith&Cross or other rums from Hampden?

    1. They can all make the funky juice. And they can all make Common Clean. But making everything an ester-bomb isn’t their goal. They all do a wide range of marques, and blend to a target flavor profile.

      I just enjoyed more than a few drams of Monymusk Special Reserve. I found it extremely enjoyable, but very different than the Smith & Cross, which I also love. They’re like different sub-genres of music. You can like more than one.

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