Ten Things to Know About Jamaican Rum

Jamaican rum has a particular mystique, and many rum geeks consider Jamaican rum’s unique flavor profile their favorite.  In what follows, I highlight some of the many interesting yet lesser-known aspects of Jamaican rum.

1) Funky

Jamaican rum is particularly known for its strong aroma and flavor, emphasizing fruits like pineapple and overripe banana. Some people call its special aroma “funk” or “hogo.” These flavors derive from fermentation ingredients like dunder, muck, and cane acid, which are rarely used in other rum-making regions.

2) Jamaican Rum Distilleries

Jamaica currently has six distilleries making rum: Worthy Park, Long Pond, Appleton, Clarendon, Hampden, and New Yarmouth.

Campari owns Appleton Estate and New Yarmouth, while National Rums of Jamaica owns long Pond and Clarendon.

3) Marques

Jamaican is famous for the many marques (or marks) that each distillery makes. Much like a bakery makes different types of bread, all Jamaican distilleries make several different types of rum, each with a specific flavor profile. Each style is named with a unique sequence of letters and numbers, for example, NYE/WK.

Rum geeks love to decode what each marque’s letters and symbols represent.

Rum marque list - Hampden Estate
Hampden Estate Marques

4) Featuring its Heritage

Just over a decade ago, there was only one Jamaican rum brand featuring the distillery where it was made: Appleton Estate.

Today five rum brands highlight where they were made. It is an important step toward rum being viewed as a premium spirit, equal to the finest whiskies and brandies.

The new brands are Worthy Park, Hampden Estate, Monymusk, and Long Pond.

5) Jamaican Rum Regulations

Jamaica registered a geographical indication (GI) for its rum in 2016. The GI defines the exact requirements required for a rum to be labeled and sold as “Jamaican Rum.” Jamaica’s GI provides its rum with the same legal protections as spirits like champagne, Scotch whisky, and cognac.

6) Famous Stills

Jamaican distilleries are famous for their double retort pot stills that create a flavorful, heavy-bodied rum in a single distillation pass. All six distilleries use this type of still. One distillery has six double retorts, and two more have five!

double retort pot still
Double Retort Pot Stills at Appleton Estate

7) Women Leading Rum

Jamaica is home to both Joy Spence, the first woman to hold the title of Master Blender in the spirits industry, and Martha Miller, the CEO of National Rums of Jamaica.

8) Rum Verschnitt

Jamaican rum was once so popular in Germany that Jamaican distillers crafted a type of “rum concentrate” sold to Germany. It was diluted with local neutral spirits before sale as “rum verschnitt.” You can still buy rum verschnitt today.

rum label
Rum Verschnitt label

9) Unexpected Uses

Jamaican rums are often used to flavor and add aroma to non-alcoholic products like candies, ice cream, and tobacco.

10) Government Rum

The Jamaican government is in the rum business. It holds a 1/3 share of National Rums of Jamaica, which in turn owns the Clarendon and Long Pond distilleries and their respective brands, Monymusk and Long Pond.

Want to read more about Jamaican rum? Check out my collected writings here.

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