Among Jamaican rum aficionados, two names hold almost
mythical allure: Plummer and Wedderburn. They’re known as old, obsolete Jamaican
rum marques from a glorious time when all Jamaican rums were chock-full of
funky flavors and hogo.
The main reason most aficionados know these names today is thanks
to Smith & Cross, the gateway Jamaican rum for many people. Its dark blue label
proudly declares, “PURE POT STILL – PLUMMER & WEDDERBURN.”
Classic Rum and Velier have issued rums
labeled as VRW – Vale Royale Wedderburn. Undoubtedly, the Wedderburn name is
still out there in common use.
But what exactly do “Plummer” and “Wedderburn” mean?
Telling the story of Barbados rum–and of rum itself–is
impossible without referencing Mount Gay. The distillery operations at its
Barbados site are arguably the oldest and longest running in existence.
Spanning nearly four centuries, Mount Gay has something to say about every era
of rum’s existence.
We had a wide-ranging interview that covered many topics,
resulting in far too much material for a single interview piece. In my Bevvy Ruminations column, I excerpted two portions that cover topics of broad interest to the rum
audience. Be sure to read Part 1 and Part
However, there was plenty of material left over that’s manna
to the more hardcore rum wonks. Topics that are a bit more esoteric and inside
baseball. A lengthy bonus reel, so to speak. I’ve polished it a bit but haven’t added a ton
of explanatory comments to the numerous references Luca makes. In short, this
is raw, very lightly filtered Luca–and he has plenty to say.–
A recently published “Rum 101” article caught my attention because it asserted rum can be made from sugar beets, as well as from sugar cane. This is simply not the case. While you can certainly make a distilled spirit using sugar beets, the end product is not a rum–just as a distilled spirit made from malted barley can’t be a rum, no matter how hard someone might wish it to be.
While sugar plays part of rum production (and actually, part of all spirits production), the real story is a tad more complicated than most people realize. So, let’s get just a bit geeky and clear up some misconceptions about rum and sugar.
Following an epic expedition through eight Kentucky and Tennessee whiskey distilleries in October 2014, Mrs. Wonk and I returned a year later, visiting six more major players and completing our regional Tour de Bourbon. While every distillery is unique and interesting in its own way, there are certain common elements such as fermentation tanks and rick houses that you’ll see on just about any tour. In a prior post, I described these common elements in detail, allowing me to focus this post on my observations about the Four Roses distillery. If you’re not familiar with the whiskey-making process, I’d suggest starting with that post.
Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, is a town with much to tell about whiskey redemption and renewal. Situated a thirty-minute drive west of Lexington, the town is bordered by the Kentucky and Salt Rivers, both supplying precious water to two iconic American bourbon brands. Wild Turkey went through a few decades where its namesake bourbon was associated with rough living lowlifes and considered bottom shelf. But that story pales compared to the rise, fall, and rebirth of Four Roses.