For Thierry Benitah, director of La Maison du whisky since 1995, « Jamaica is to the Caribbean what Islay is to Scotland »

In just a few words, he sums up the esteem we hold for this island and its rums. Indeed, like its Scottish counterpart, our Islay of the Antilles is home only to cult distilleries (Hampden, Long Pond, Worthy Park, Appleton, Clarendon) that produce a distinguished style of rum immediately recognizable from the first nosing. Incidentally, the first rum to be found in La Maison du Whisky catalogue in the 1990s was a Long Pond from the bottler Bristol Spirits.

Since the 17th century, Jamaican rum has stood out for its heavy, powerful style. This comes from slow, spontaneous fermentation in wooden vats, with the addition of dunder, a little fresh cane juice and all sorts of fruits. These rums are most frequently distilled in double retort pot stills, which creates even more concentrated aromas. The vast majority of Jamaican rums were sold in bulk. They were either used in blends or sent to Europe for ageing. It was during this era that a sort of classification was adopted enabling buyers to choose the style of rum needed for their blends, similar to in a catalogue. Each rum was named according to the level of esters per hectolitre of pure alcohol. Categories common across all Jamaican rums were then created: Common Cleans (80-150 esters), Plummers (150-200 esters), Wedderburns (200-500 esters) and Continental Flavours/High Esters (500-700 esters).

In addition to these categories, each distillery had developed its own classifications, known as «Marks» or «Marques» (these Marks are also found in British Guiana), acronyms that cellar masters would write in chalk on the casks, whose meanings have often been lost over time. These letters were sometimes distillers’ initials, sometimes an abbreviation for an aromatic profile… Habitation Velier range aficionados are probably already familiar with the HLCFs (which probably stood for Hampden Light Continental Flavoured, with 500-700 g of ester per hl of pure alcohol), and C<>H (C Diamond H, 900-1,000 g ester), just two of the many Hampden marks. DOK (initials of Dermot Owen Kelly Lawson, a Hampden distiller in the early 20th century) is also famous for having the maximum ester content permitted in Jamaica, of between 1,500 and 1,600 g. It is generally used in blends in tiny quantities to bring out the aromas.

Our Islay of the Antilles is home only to cult distilleries.

Hampden’s double retort pot still

“Jamaican rum has stood out for its heavy, powerful style.”

Long Pond 11 YO 2007

Jamaica,  Traditional Rum – 62.5%, 70cl
Limited Edition of 3325 bottles
LMDW Exclusive

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Vale Royal 12 yo 2006

Jamaica,  Traditional Rum – 62.5%, 70cl
Limited Edition of 3412 bottles
LMDW Exclusive

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cambridge 13 yo 2005

Jamaica,  Traditional Rum – 62.5%, 70cl
Limited Edition of 3648 bottles
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Long Pond 15 YO 2003

Jamaica,  Traditional Rum – 63%, 70cl
Limited Edition of 2484 bottles
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