Cayman Islands Rum Trip
The Rumelier visited Grand Cayman in October of 2009. Although he has lived in the Caribbean Islands
for twenty years The Rumelier had never visited the Cayman Islands before, so he took this trip with much anticipation. While
in Grand Cayman he managed to meet all the major people who distill, bottle, blend and import the island's rums.
In the Cayman Islands there is not the real rum culture found
in many of the other large Caribbean countries. There are no international rum giants, no large distilleries, and no huge
sugar estates to visit. However, if you look closely you may find a still or two and a couple of companies that import and
blend rum from all over the Caribbean. Below is the story of these companies.
One exception to this lack of rum culture and that The Rumelier had not seen around
the Caribbean before, was that many households used old rum barrels for their garbage bins. It can be presumed that these
old rum barrels had been purchased from the Tortuga Rum Company, who import their rum for their rum cakes in oak barrels to
help maitain a strong flavour to the rum. These barrels are seen for sale outside their headquarters in the industrial park,
often sawn into many different shapes and sizes.
Tortuga Rum Company
The short visit to Grand Cayman started with a meeting with
the owner of the Tortuga Rum Company, Mr. Robert Hamaty, at his company headquarters in the Airport Industrial Park. The company
headquarters are where all the world famous rum cakes are produced and packaged.(shown below)
The Rumelier was hosted in the comapny's boardroom by Mr.
Hamaty, where the discussion lead to all things rum, including new product lines and ideas. Of course several of the company's
fine rums were sampled during this long rum discussion. Much interesting news and plans for Tortuga Rums were revealed to
One of the most
interesting facts about Tortuga Rums are that they are bottled in several different Caribbean countries and not in Grand Cayman
itself. The reason for this being that it is thought the quality of the rum would be compromised if it were to be shipped
in bulk and bottled locally. Countries where Tortuga Rums are produced include Jamaica, Guyana, Barbados and Costa Rica, so
giving the portfolio of rums many contrasting and interesting styles and making it a true "Caribbean" rum company.
The premium rums the company sells are produced and bottled
in Guyana, with the 12 Year Old Rum being the company's flagship offering. This is a fine example of a Demerara Rum, lots
of heavy flavours and body, a real treat for any serious rum lover.
|Tortuga Rum Headquarters, Grand Cayman.
Rum Company History
Rum Company was established in 1984 when a Jamaican pilot Robert Hamaty and his Caymanian wife Carlene realised that the biggest
selling rum being purchased by departing tourists from the Cayman Islands was bottled in Bermuda and not the Cayman islands.
At the time Robert was a pilot for Cayman Airways and wife Carlene was an in-flight supervisor. With their insight in to the
tourist industry they decided to introduce their own rum called Tortuga and opened their first duty free liquor store in 1987
and later that year began to introduce their now world famous rum cakes.
Carlene Hamaty had been baking rum cakes for special occasions, using a four-generation
old family recipe. These cakes became so popular that her friends in the food business encouraged her to start selling her
cakes in the company's liquor stores. The cakes were an instant success, so much so that a bakery had to be established in
1990 to meet demand, making it the first commercially produced rum cake in the Caribbean. Today there are eight different
varieties of rum cake.
|Robert Hamaty of Tortuga Rums.
In 1997 Tortuga Imports/Tortuga Rum Cake Company opened its doors in Miami, Florida to handle worldwide
distribution, mail order and online sales. This branch of the company was headed by Robert Hamaty's daughter, Monique and
her husband, Marcus Simmonds.
Today the family owned and operated business is the largest retail
and duty free liquor business in the Cayman Islands, with 18 retail operations and three bakeries.
the corner of Rum Cake Lane and Tortuga Rum Avenue in Grand Cayman's Airport Industrial Park is the company's headquarters
and state of the art bakery capable of producing 10,000 cakes a day. The headquarters is both a business center and a tourist
attraction. A large glass viewing area allows visitors to watch Tortuga Rum Cakes being baked while enjoying complementary
samples of the cakes. The complex also has a large gift shop, snack bar and of course a liquor store or two.
Tortuga Rum Company now spans the Caribbean, with franchise bakeries in Jamaica, Barbados and the Bahamas. Cakes
are sold in gift shops onboard over 100 cruise ships, widely distributed throughout North America and the Caribbean and shipped
to 70 different countries worlwide.
This company is truely a Caribbean success story and it keeps
going from strength to strength.
|One of Tortuga's many liquor stores in Grand Cayman.
|The large range of Tortuga Rums and Liqueurs.
Seven Fathoms Rum Company
|Seven Fathoms from the Cayman Islands.
|The View from Hammerheads Brewpub.
|Sugar Cane meets Cruise Ship in Georgetown, Grand Cayman.
Seven Fathoms Rum is a rum that is hand crafted in small batches at the company's George
Town Harbor distillery. Located in Grand Cayman, the Seven Fathoms Distillery is the first of its kind in the Cayman Islands.
Seven Fathoms is truly a unique spirit. It is the first spirit to be made entirely in the Cayman Islands, despite a
West Indian history deeply embedded in the rum industries and culture. All Seven Fathoms rum is made using an innovative maturation
technique that involves aging the rum underwater at about forty two feet or seven fathoms, giving the rum its unique
The rum is distilled using a brand new beautiful Christian Carl copper pot still,(pictured
below) located upstairs at the Hammerheads Brewpub right on George Town Harbour, overlooking the many cruise ships that
visit the island on a daily basis.
The company uses locally grown organic sugar cane, which
is grown on a farm at the East End of the island. The sugar cane is harvested and the cane juice is extracted by crushing
right at the farm and delivered quickly to the distillery. Once at the distillery in George Town the fresh juice is pumped
into one of the many fermenters located on the ground floor of the distillery. After fermenting the wash is pumped
upstairs to the copper pot still.
|A Newly Installed Christian Carl Copper Still.
|Copper Stills at Seven Fathoms Distillery, Grand Cayman.
A "master distiller" uses both a copper pot still and a small column still to distill
the wash. The still room also doubles as the bottling and labeling plant.
Once distilled, the
rum is apparently pumped into used Jack Daniels barrels and taken out to a very secret location offshore off Grand Cayman.
Here the rum is offloaded from a dive boat with a winch and secured 42 feet or seven fathoms down under the water. This underwater
aging is supposed to accelerate the process of aging. The gentle motion of the waves and the alternating pressure
of the water during the rising and ebbing tides helps push the rum deep into the pores of the oak barrels and extracting all
of the oak and bourbon flavours from the wood.
In total, the rum is apparently aged for about
six months and somewhere in the aging system a solera method of aging is employed.
the company used three very small stills to produce their rum, before investing in the new Christian Carl pot still. These
three small stills are on display in the still room. As a result, the profile of the rum has changed greatly from the
first commercially produced batch, to todays latest batch. A big improvement in flavour and more consistency has been achieved
by using a larger still, with each batch produced stting a new standard.
|Hammerheads Brewpub, Grand Cayman.
Blackbeard's Rum Company
While searching for a bottle
of old rum for Count Silvio from Refined Vices, The Rumelier stumbled across a liquor store on Cayman's famous Seven Mile
Beach. The store was named after one of the rum company's that import their own brand of rum and have named it after the famous
In the rear of the retail store they have a small rum cake production
line and bottling plant. The rum is imported at overproof strengths and then watered down to bottling strength, then blended,
bottled and labeled. They produce a range of seven rums, Gold, Dark, White, 151 Overproof, Coconut, Banana and Vanilla,
all in one litre sizes. Along with the rums they also produced the Cayman Islands biggest export, rum cakes, with seven varieties
Blackbeard's Rum Company History
Blackbeard's Rum Company
began as a family owned retail store in 1986, owned and operated by the late Mr. and Mrs. Keith Baldwin and their children
Lynn and Bill. The company and their single retail location quickly grew on the island of Grand Cayman to become a multiple
store retail business, an importer and wholesaler and exclusive producer of authentic Cayman Islands Rums and Spirits and
award winning Rum Cakes.
By 2005, Blackbeard's Rum Company had not only survived the devastating
Hurricane Ivan of 2004 but had flourished as an importer, distributor, producer and leading retailer with seven prime locations.
The company was acquired in April of 2007 and subsequently re-structured and re-named Balckbeard's Trading Company Limited.
It was merged with the Active Capital Holding, Cayman Distributors Limited in April 2008 to form the Cayman Islands leading
wholesale and retail beverage company and is now positioned and resourced for continued and exponential growth.
This story was originally posted in 2008
In news coming out of the Cayman Islands recently, there is now available the first
commercially produced rum being distilled in the Cayman Islands. However this isn't the most interesting part of the
story. The rum in question, Seven Fathoms Premium Rum is being aged in oak barrels 42 feet down on the ocean floor.
Due to the underwater ageing the barrels are always being gently rocked by the moving waters and the pressure will alter
in the barrel continually as the tide ebbs and flows. Hopefully no hurricanes will hit the Cayman Islands again in the near
The rum is supposed age more quickly using this unique method, as the pressure of the water forces the rum in
and out of the oak staves.
The idea was inspired by the old navy ships who carried barrels of rum around the world for
their daily rations of "grog". The sailors found out that after months of storing the rum below in the holds while
crossing the Atlantic Ocean, that the rum had mellowed and changed colour, making it much more palatable than when it
had come straight from the still.
So this is just another version of this, but surely much more ingenious. Good luck
to the company, Cayman Distillers who are producing this rum. The Rumelier is looking forward to acquiring a bottle
of Seven Fathoms Premium Rum and tasting it for himself.
Rumelier had a relative bring him back a bottle of Seven Fathoms Premium Rum from the Cayman Islands. The bottle was a small
500ml bottle that retailed for about $US50. The rum bottle had a synthetic cork, unfortunately the cork when opened and
re-corked kept trying to escape from the bottle, almost inviting you to sample more. The Rumelier had to find an old cork
to keep the bottle closed, a small price to pay for such a great addition to The Rumelier's collection. Apparently this problem
has since been solved, as this actual bottle was from the first batch ever produced. The colour is golden brown with
an interesting aroma. The flavour was very unique for a rum, with lots of oak. Every rum lover should try and find a bottle
of this very original rum.
The Rumelier has managed to secure a second bottle of Seven
Fathoms (pictured above, left). This is a larger 750ml size bottle and the cork has been changed to one like they use in Cruzan
Single Barrel Rum, a wooden top with natural cork. This actual bottle is from Batch Number 4.