I mentioned I'd be back to provide more information about these single still rums from Guyana so here I am! These are on the shelf as of now and are moving quickly, despite the fact we haven't included many notes so far. Before we break down the flavors, however, let me tell you a bit about why these rums are so fascinating and why David and I will be reporting live from Guyana starting February 18th. I will paraphrase the information I know about El Dorado and give you a bit of background.
The foundations of Guyana go back to Christopher Columbus and the cultivation of sugar cane around the Caribbean. 150 years after the explorer sited the land along the north coast of South America, the Dutch returned to found a colony and cultivate cane along the coastal plain and on the banks of Guyana's many rivers. After the British began distilling sometime around 1650, the practice spread to Guyana and by the 1700s almost every sugar mill had a small still nearby, leading to more than 300 different estates making their own style of rum from molasses.
The Royal Navy began handing out a daily ration of rum in 1677, a practice that would continue in England until July 1st, 1970. When the British tasted the rum from Port Mourant - a site established in 1732 - they made it their official rum of choice. The character of the rum, stemming from the double wooden pot still in which it was made, stood out from other rums of its kind with its heavy, earthier flavor. The British would eventually take over all three Guyanese colonies in 1831 (Demerara being one of them) and create British Guyana, leading to an implementation of the blending practices long used for whisky in the production of rum. As time went on, the sugar estates began to close and the production of rum became more finely detailed. Top estates were given their own mark (SWR, ICBU, PM, EHP, LBI, or AN, for example) and the rums were shipped off to the UK where they would be blended together as Demerara rum.
Some of the original stills from the early estate days still exist in Guyana and have been consolidated under one roof:
- the Edward Henry Porter still from the Enmore sugar estate. It was built in the 1800s and may be identical to the first Coffey still ever built by Aeneas Coffey in 1832.
- the double wooden pot still from the Port Mourant estate along with a single wooden pot still from Versailles. They produce heavy, flavorful rums like the Royal Navy once used. The PM rum is a single distillate from double wooden still.
- a four-column French Savalle still from the Uitvlught estate, founded in the 1700s. The distillate is utilized in blends to add fresh cane character.
You can see now why David and I are so eager to get out to Guyana. These are serious, historic, museum-worthy pieces of equipment that have seen centuries of use and are still running today! That's why we're always pushing El Dorado 12 year rum into your hands when you ask us for suggestions. In any case, we just picked up the three single-still selections. Here they are:
El Dorado Single Barrel EHP Guyana Rum $79.99 - The EHP was created for the Edward Henry Porter Estate, nearly identical to Aeneas Coffey's original patent (continuous), crafted in native greenheart and nearly two centuries old. It is refined, balanced with subtle toffee notes.
El Dorado Single Barrel ICBU Guyana Rum $79.99 - The ICBU comes from the Dutch Uitvlugt (literally/figuratively "to fly away") Estate, a French Savalle four column metal continuous still. The rum shows sweet sugarcane on the nose with a rich medium-bodied palate.
El Dorado Single Barrel PM Guyana Rum $79.99 - The PM comes from the Port Mourant still, a double-pot greenheart still that provided rum for nearly two centuries to the British Royal Navy. The flavors are of rich molassses with deep. dark caramel.