Kill-Devil drink: Jamaican Rum history

The production of alcoholic drinks from corn, rice, sugar cane, barley and other natural resources is age-old. The English were the pioneers that started to make rum from fermented sugar cane.

It is believed the word rum was first used in Barbados in 1620s describing a stimulating, rugged, unpleasant and heavy beverage made from sugar cane juice. It is not clear what the exact source of the word is but it is widely believed that it derived from the English word “rumbullion” meaning “great tumult”.

In Jamaican Rum’s early days the beverage was also known as “kill-devil” and Jamaica used it to trade with American colonies for various items like salted fish, beef, timber and stock. As manufacturing techniques improved Jamaican Rum became more acceptable and popular. The title of world’s oldest rum manufacturer is claimed by Mount Gay Distilleries Ltd. which is based on Barbados. The Barbados rum distillery has equipment that dates back to 1703. Appleton Jamaica dates back to 1749 and that makes it the world’s second oldest distillery while St. James in Martinique is third (1765).

Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum Tour

Appleton Jamaican Rum Tour

In 1893, close to 90 percent of the 31, 555 acres under sugar cane farms were owned by sugar estates that operated their own mills and distilleries. At the time there were some 148 distilleries located through the island. By 1948 there were only 25 left. Since then the number of distilleries has dropped even further to 5, with improvements in technology, the amount of rum distilled has grown. Jamaica currently produces the broadest varieties of rum in the world. The island has the capacity to produce up to 50 million litres of rum every year. Jamaican rums are currently sold in over 70 countries around the world.

Read more about the Appleton Estate here.


Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum


independence_punch1 Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum 1

The White Overproof Rum Lore

Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum is a popular strong white rum. A legendary Jamaican rum, this is said to be the real rum from the island where the rum comes from. Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum is a highly special mix of rums from Wray & Nephew’s estates.

Wray & Nephew White Overproof adds a unique rum temperament to drinks and is the crucial ingredient in classic Jamaican rum punch, as well as the secret ingredient in many rum-based signature drinks like mai-tais and daiquiris.

Price Range of 750ml bottle, ex-tax in JMD

Average: 2,498JM$   From: 1,998JM$   To 3,497JM$

The history of J. Wray and Nephew began in 1825 when company founder John Wray opened ‘The Shakespeare Tavern’ in Kingston, Jamaica. Kingston developed to a large city fast and became Jamaica’s capital in 1877, and The Shakespeare Tavern became very successful.

In 1860 Wray introduced Charles James Ward, the son of his brother, to run the business side of the company. Ward was a dynamic and gifted businessman, and under his guidance J. Wray and Nephew started a period of growth and wealth. Wray gave up work in 1862 and died in 1870 leaving Ward as the sole owner of the firm.

Ward grew his inheritance – a bar and liquor-dealing concern, into one of Jamaica’s biggest commercial ventures and a company that enjoyed international success. At the International Exhibition held in London in 1862, J. Wray and Nephew won three gold medals for its 10-, 15- and 25-year-old rums. The Company’s Jamaican rums also won several awards and prizes at big international showcases in Paris in 1878, Amsterdam in 1883, New Orleans in 1885 and Jamaica 1891.

In 1916, the Lindo Brothers & Co purchased Wray & Nephew. Almost instantly after which, the new company, J. Wray & Nephew Ltd., bought the Appleton Estate – the oldest and most famous of all Jamaica’s sugar-cane estates.

At the end of 2012, Italian spirits company Gruppo Campari purchased Wray and Nephew’s owner, Lascelles deMercado.

In 1997, Joy Spence was made the master blender at J. Wray and Nephew – the first ever woman to occupy this position in the industry.

It is said that 90% of rum sales in Jamaica are of this famous brand, used in Jamaican rum punches, Mai Tais and daiquiris.

Jamaican Rums currently produced by J. Wray & Nephew include

  • Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum (the flagship brand, 63% ABV),
  • Captain Morgan Jamaica Rum
  • Sainsbury’s Superior Dark Rum (Gold medal winner in the Rum category at the 2010 International Wine and Spirit Awards[6])
  • Coruba Jamaica Rum
  • Appleton Special Jamaica Rum
  • Appleton Estate Jamaica Rums:
    • V/X
    • 8 Year Old
    • Extra
    • Master Blender’s Legacy
    • 21 Year Old
  • Koko Kanu

Appleton Estate Rums are still produced on the Estate, which encompasses over 11,000 acres (45 km2) of sugarcane, a sugarcane refinery, and the Distillery.

Appearance: Crystal clear, white rum
Bouquet: Fruity natural aroma with overtones of molasses.
Finish: Flavorful and strong
Overall: Most commercial spirits produced today are so rectified that they have a relentless blandness. Not so with this brand of white rum.
Product Details :
Sizes: 50ml, 200ml, 375ml, 700ml, 750ml, litre, 1.75 litre
Strength: 63% alc/vol. (126 proof)


Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum

Price Range of 750ml bottle, ex-tax in JMD
Average: 2,498JM$   From: 1,998JM$   To 3,497JM$

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