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I’ve cited as many sources as I can via links, but it’s entirely possible some sources are out of date.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:
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Long Pond
- Monymusk (Clarendon Distillers Ltd.)
- Innswood (Possibly an aging only facility)
- Owned by a trio of partners (~1/3 each)
- National Sugar Company Ltd (Jamaica, state-owned)
- Demerara Distillers Ltd of (Guyana, best known for El Dorado)
- Maison Ferrand (owners of Cognac Ferrand and Plantation Rum)
- 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 27% 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
- 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.