Focus on: Jamaican Rum

The Spanish brought sugar cane to Jamaica in the 1400s, importing it from the Canary Islands and using it to make the first iterations of rum on the island. However, it was not until 1749, with the establishment of Appleton Estate, that the story of modern Jamaican rum really begins.

The rum industry in Jamaica grew rapidly in the following centuries, with more than 100 active distilleries on the island by the late 19th century, but only a few remain today: Appleton Estate, Hampden Estate, Worthy Park, New Yarmouth and the distilleries owned by National Rums of Jamaica Ltd – Long Pond and Clarendon.

Jamaican Rum - Map

The History of Rum in Jamaica

While the Spanish brought sugar cane to the island and kicked off sugar cultivation as one of Jamaica’s main industries, it was the English who perfected and grew rum distillation after taking control in 1655. Rum production quickly became one of Jamaica’s biggest sources of revenue, with the rum itself fast becoming a form of currency in the Caribbean, holding a high enough value to be widely used for trading.

A Bold Style

Jamaica is known for its bold, funky rums that have a character unlike anything else. The limestone soil of the island is perfect for growing sugar cane and has helped the Jamaican rum industry to grow into what it is today, with a variety of styles and characters that stand out from the crowd.

Hampden Estate

Known for its full-bodied and boldly flavoured pot still rums, Hampden Estate is based in Trelawny Parish, north-west Jamaica, and is one of the oldest sugar estates on the island. It has been producing rum since 1753, specialising in heavy pot still rums with vibrant, funky characters.

Appleton Estate

The oldest of Jamaica’s sugar cane estates, Appleton Estate began distilling rum in 1749 under the ownership of the Dickinson family. Passing through the hands of many prominent Jamaican families, Appleton Estate produces different styles of pot sill rum that reflect the distillery’s terroir.

Worthy Park Estate

Nestled in the Vale of Lluidas, Worthy Park Estate has been commercially producing cane and sugar since 1720, and had distilled rum on and off since the 1740s. In recent history, rum production had very much been off, until the Clarke family, who took ownership of the estate in 1918, made the decision to return to the distilling business in 2004. The newest distillery was completed in 2005 and Worthy Park has been producing a modern take on traditional Jamaican pot still rums ever since.

National Rums of Jamaica

National Rums of Jamaica Ltd is made up of Long Pond and Clarendon distilleries and is the home of Monymusk rum, which is named after the estate that previously owned Clarendon distillery.

Clarendon Distillery

Built in 1949, Clarendon distillery is one of the islands newest rum producers and uses both pot and column stills to produce its rums and creating two very distinct styles.

Long Pond Distillery

Long Pond distillery was founded in 1753 in Trelawny Parish and operated until 2012, when it closed due to leakages and considerable water damage to its dunder storage tanks. This closure did not last long as it was reopened in 2017 by National Rums of Jamaica, before a disastrous fire in 2018 destroyed 65,000 litres of rum and most of the wooden fermentation vats. Fortunately neither the stills nor the dunder pit were affected, and in a great show of resilience the distillery was up and running again within a month.

New Yarmouth

Located in Clarendon Parish, New Yarmouth distillery is owned by J Wray & Nephew, which also owns Appleton Estate. New Yarmouth uses both pot and column stills to create lively rums that are popular for use in blending and make up some of the world’s most popular rums — including Wray & Nephew Overproof. These rums are also being increasingly sought-after by independent bottlers.