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Monymusk Rum

Monymusk Rum

The Clarendon Distillery, home to Monymusk, was built in 1949, making it a very recent addition to rum production. The original building still houses the distillery’s two pot stills and the corresponding fermentation tanks but the complex has been expanded enormously over time. The older one has a capacity of 20,000 litres while the newer, indian manufactured still can carry 25,000 litres, making it possibly the biggest pot still in the Caribbean. These produce two distinct styles, a light-low ester and a heavy high-ester style. The light style is the result of a quick one-day fermentation in steel tanks whereas the wines get to work for up to a month in wooden vats (without dunder) for the heavy style. A new column still has been installed in 2010 (see featured image) which is responsible for about 3/4 of the distillery’s total output. It has a capacity of 200,000 litres and is capable to produce three distinct rum styles thanks to its multiple configuration setups.

There's a relatively complex ownership structure behind the distillery. NRJ, a partnership between the Jamaican government (National Sugar Company), Goaddard Enterprises (previously the owner of the West Indies Rum Distillery (W.I.R.D.)) and Guyana’s Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), owns 73% of Clarendon Distillery, the remainder is owned by Diageo, the world’s biggest spirits conglomerate. Two things are worth pointing out. First, W.I.R.D. has recently been acquired by Maison Ferrand, home to Plantation rums. Time will tell whether the acquisition had anything to do with Clarendon or whether it was just a byproduct. Second, Diageo bought the brand Captain Morgan in 2001 and the Jamaican share of the European version of the blend is now produced at Clarendon Distillery (it’s rather confusing since the US version is produced on the Virgin Islands whereas the Jamaican one even comes from J. Wray & Nephew (Appleton)).

Monymusk rums (and other NRJ products) are aged and blended at Innswood, a former distillery which closed for good in 1992. However, about 90% of the total output goes to Diageo (Captain Morgan and Myers), which in total accounts for about 60% of all Jamaican bulk rum exports. Monymusk is thus only a tiny fraction of what the distillery is producing, and its bulk exports to rum brokers even more so. Taste-wise, their rums are known for flavors of butyric acids, a very special profile that is not to everyone’s liking. The differences between the vintages can be quite high, however.