To most, Jamaica is seen as one of more recognisable islands of the Caribbean. Whether it’s through your own visits or becoming inspired by the images and videos on social media, the country is rich in culture with the expected tipple of choice being a driving force for many to enjoy when visiting.
A distillery tour is a must when visiting any Caribbean island, especially if originating from Europe or America. The styles of the equipment used to the liquid it produces, it’s a stark contrast of finished product to the selection of home, and it adds to intrigue and buzz when a tour operator has a distillery option to their many packages available.
Saying that, you do only get to enjoy a handful.
A handful in that not all distilleries are open to the public, or indeed able to function with a tour opportunity. You will see and experience perhaps some of the biggest names on the island, Jamaica included with Appleton Estate and Hampden Estate, but you do miss out on many expressions that the islands can offer. It’s understandable that if you visit a distillery and walk away with new-found knowledge and a love for a new bottle, you’ll seek it out in your hotel, the areas local bar or indeed your favourite rum bar once back home. But with the UK especially, there’s so much rum to experience these days that you can easily overlook those ‘other’ distilleries when visiting its home country.
It’s with this that my focus here is on a fellow Jamaican distillery that can be easily overlooked due to its lack of a tour opportunity. Lets take a look at Rum-Bar from Worthy Park Estate.
Worthy Park Estate itself can be found within St. Catherine, itself a part of the Vale of Lluidas (or more commonly known as Lluidas Vale), 1,200 feet above sea level and with approximately 10,000 acres of vibrant foliage just 40 miles north-west of Kingston and 28 miles south from the tourist centre of Ocho Rios. The Estate has been a part of the landscape since 1670 when it was gifted to Lt. Francis Price for his services to Oliver Cromwell during the English capture of the island from the Spanish in 1655. Ever since it has slowly expanded to how you see it today.
The production of cane and sugar began in 1720, continuing to this day under the Clarke family, who themselves took over in 1918 from the previous family and becoming one of only 3 families to ever own the Estate. Despite having 10,000 acres of land, approximately 40% of it is currently used for sugar cultivation (where around 20 cane varieties are grown), with the rest for a handful of livestock and other crop production.
January to the end of June is the traditional sugar season, although due to the nature of the 24 hour operation, July to December is perfect to service the equipment within the sugar factory so consistency over the years can be maintained. The sugar cane itself is predominantly harvested by hand for efficiency and to maximise yield, although 20 years ago it was decided to also use cane harvesters to assist in the daily supply needed, resulting in Worthy Park Estate being rated number one on the island since 1968.
Each year, approximately 210,000 tonnes of cane is milled, with 90,000 tonnes of that coming from the Worthy Park Estate itself. The rest is supplemented by purchases from local farmers. It makes sense then that Worthy Park Estate produces all the molasses needed for its rum production, with between 7,000 – 8,000 tonnes per year produced.
Worthy Park Estate’s rum history has been sporadic since the 1740’s, with production in halted by the Spirits Pool Association of Jamaica in 1962 due to an over-supply of Jamaican rum following World War 2. With no rum activity for decades, and with times and attitude to rum changing, 2004 saw the Clarke family deciding to relaunch and in 2005 their new distillery opened, with 2007 seeing the flagship brand Rum-Bar Rum launched.
There’s currently four Rum-Bar expressions available to the market; the traditional Jamaican styled Rum-Bar Rum, a white overproof rum that is a blend of three un-aged rums, all distilled within their copper pot still, Rum-Bar Silver which is a a white, un-aged 40% abv rum, and their Rum-Bar Gold which is barrel aged (Jack Daniel’s) for a minimum of 4 years. Rum-Bar Rum Cream came to be the 3rd expression released, combining Rum-Bar Rum with real cream.
So with this, below I give to you my tasting notes on my Worthy Park Estate journey so far –
Rum-Bar Gold – 40%
Ripe green apple notes come through on the nose, with honey, vanilla and fudge infused molasses ever-present. Plenty of banana flavours come through on the palate, with hints of cedar from the oak, toffee and lingering treacle finish.
A cracking Jamaican tipple here, one that can easily be sipped over ice. Saying that, it wouldn’t go a miss in one of these –
Cane Planter’s Punch
90ml Rum-Bar Gold
30ml Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
30ml Simple Syrup
3 dash Angostura Bitters
Fill with Coconut Water
Combine all ingredients in a tall glass and fill with crushed ice. Swizzle and garnish.
A very tasty look at the ‘other’ Jamaican rums that you can come across both on the island itself, as well as within many venues across the UK. I’m looking forward to heading over myself this year, and although there’s no distillery tour, that doesn’t mean I’ll be ignoring it in the local bars! One for your drinks cabinet for sure.
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