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by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer
We usually just enjoy the delicious brews of Jamaican rum but have you ever thought about the actual process of making it? Well, Jamaica has two very popular rum tours that you can visit on vacation.
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One of Jamaica’s oldest sugar estates, and one of the few still in operation today, is Hampden Rum Tour. The Hampden Estate is especially known for its pot still rums. Hampden rums are special because they do not contain added sugars or colouring agents.
The Hampden Estate was officially opened in 1753 as a sugarcane plantation under the ownership of Mr. Archibald Sterling, a Scottish planter. His great house which was built some 26 years later, had a rum store on its ground floor until the early 1900s.
The estate changed hands in 1827 when Mr. D.O. Kelly-Lawson (who went on to be Custos and Justice of the Peace for Trelawny in 1875) bought the property. His daughter Ena Kelly-Lawson inherited the property on his death and when Ena herself passed, her husband only recognized as Mr. Farquharson inherited the property.
The highly frequented wharf in Falmouth was actually built during World War I by the Hampden Estate to ship sugar and rum to Great Britain. Now, it is used as the dock for some of the most famous cruise ships who transport visitors to our shores every year.
The plantation remained under the government of the Farquharsons until 2003 when it was sold to the Jamaica Sugar Company of Jamaica. The estate is responsible for producing extremely high-quality sugar and rum which were exclusively exported to Europe only.
In 2009, the Hussey family through their company, Everglades Farms Ltd., would come to acquire the Hampden Estates. The Hussey family did not seek to change the structure of the company nor its methods of making sugar and rum but instead improve on the ways it serves the parish of Trelawny and the customers they inherited through the estate, who for most can trace their partnership through many generations, even as far back as 1753.
Though they have been producing exceptional rum for years, Hampden Estates did produce rum for commercial sale until very recently, in 2018 with the release of 8 pure single rums.
The old 5 pillar method of producing single pot still rums is still used which is what you’ll see on your tour of the Hampden Estate. From the beautiful and expansive grounds to the tested and proven methods of wild fermentation and the 4 iconic pot stills which in all hold 17,000 gallons of rum.
The tour takes you out of the busy town of Falmouth and off the beaten path, surrounded by history, culture, and Jamaican rum.
To be a part of the tour, you must be 18 years old. It can easily fit into your schedule as well if you can spare 2 hours. Each group of visitors should be no more than 10, to ensure that everyone is relaxed and gets the full experience of the tour. For larger groups, reservations must be made. Ensure to wear closed footwear as the distillery will be in full operation during the tour.
There are no tours on weekends and public holidays and lunch is included tour.
We actually had a full tour of the Hampden Estate that you can watch until you can take the tour in person.
Of the two estates that do rum tours in Jamaica, this is definitely the most popular. Appleton Estate, which did its first brew all the way back in 1749, is home to one of the most popular brands of alcohol not only in Jamaica but the world. The rum tour itself is just as popular and is one of the attractions most anticipated on Jamaica’s south coast.
The tour was renamed in honour of Joy Spence, the world’s only female Master Blender who began working with the company in 1981.
The tour not only includes the walk around the distillery but has many other stops along the way. The theatre and the observation tower are some of the favorites along the tour. As you walk through the various stops you will come to learn the sparkling history of the Appleton Estate in the Nassau Valley, St. Elizabeth.
This estate is the oldest distillery in continuous production in Jamaica, even though it has changed hands quite a few times. Their rums also have a wide reach of 60 countries which contributes heavily to the notoriety of the brand and by association “brand Jamaica”.
The olden methods of extracting the sugarcane juice using a horse and a mill is showcased, though it isn’t used as much anymore.
In the two hours, you’ll spend on the tour, you will learn how the 8 signature blends, as well as the limited edition bottles, are made. You’ll also so learn how to make delicious and vibrant cocktails using the Appleton Estate rums.
When the tour ends, everyone over 18 can “taste” the 13 types of rum available, and by taste I mean, as much as you can handle.
The Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience can be booked separately or you can do a full south coast excursion through Chukka tours.
Jamaican rum is a much-celebrated part of our culture and the unique blends are something we are very much proud of. Rum tours in Jamaica should be on your must-do list on your vacation.
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