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Rum Diaries Blog: Chairman's Reserve Rum
Uncommon Caribbean: Chairman's, The #1 Rum for Young St. Lucians
Committed to innovation and quality, Chairman's Reserve is produced by the innovative and quality-driven boutique rum distiller: St. Lucia Distillers. This is the only distillery on the scenically beautiful and agriculturally rich Caribbean island of St. Lucia. A passionate team of distillers, blenders, and administrative staff work together to produce some of the world's finest rums. In the 2009, St. Lucia Distillers was nominated as only one of three distilleries globally for the trophy 'Excellence in Craftsmanship.'
Chronicles of History
The Barnard family first settled in St. Lucia in the 1930's and established their distillery by making rum from the molasses produced by the island's massive sugar plantations. Due to the rise of the European sugar beet, the local sugar industry was forced into extinction. This lead to negative effects on the island's growing rum trade. With few choices remaining, the last two distilleries formed a joint venture and consolidated their operations to the picturesque Roseau Valley, creating what is known today as St. Lucia Distillers. With this history behind him, Laurie Barnard took it upon himself to restore St. Lucia's rum providence and created Chairman's Reserve, which has re-established the prestige of St. Lucia's rum culture.
The Art of Making Rum
Raw Materials: Molasses, made from the juice extracted from sugar cane, is imported from a number of sugar producing nations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The distillery currently has five acres under sugar cane. They have planted four selected varieties of cane, which were sourced from the West Indies Breeding Station in Barbados. They intend to expand the acreage of sugar cane to ten acres in the coming years. The molasses is mixed with rainwater and water collected from local streams. All the water is filtered and undergoes reverse osmosis. The resulting wash is monitored closely by the distillers who ensure Brix levels result in efficient fermentation.
Fermentation: The distillery uses a number of yeasts for the bulk of the molasses fermentation. The yeasts are propagated in stainless steel tanks and then used to inoculate the wash. These yeasts have been carefully selected for their flavor profile and their efficiency in converting sugar into alcohol. Fermentation takes place at temperatures of up to thirty four degrees Celsius for 24-30 hours. The length and temperature of fermentation is controlled to give a balance of congeners, which give the rums their unique flavor.
Distillation: St. Lucia Distillers has four different stills. This gives them the ability to make different rums with varying flavor profiles. Traditional, small batch distillations differentiate them from larger distilleries and allow them to produce rums with distinctive characters.
The Continuous (Coffey) Still (commissioned 1985)
The John Dore Pot Still (commissioned 1998)
The Vendome Pot Still (commissioned 2003)
The John Dore 6000 Liter Pot Still (commissioned 2004)
Maturation: They currently have a large and growing stock of barrels undergoing maturation. St. Lucia Distillers sources its white American oak barrels from the Kentucky bourbon industry and has barrels from Jack Daniels, Buffalo Trace and Jim Beam. In addition to bourbon barrels, they use port barrels for final polishing and are experimenting with Hermitage and Chilean wine barrels. They are conducting further experiments with sherry, Madeira and Sauternes barrels. Tropical aging speeds up the maturation process. The spirit ages two and half times faster than equivalent spirits in Europe. Although this has its advantages, it can often be the case that rums over 10 years of age can be extremely woody as tropical maturation takes on too much tannin. Chairman's Reserve carefully checks all barrels for the evolution of the spirit, relying on the talents of their blending team to marry old rums with younger rums to get balance and greater complexity.
Blending: The art of blending is central to Chairman's Reserve. They do not put age statements on the rums, because they passionately believe that complexity and balance can only be maximized by blending old, complex but often “woody” rums with fresher but characterful rums. They do not add additives to the rums, and all their rums contain the Authentic Caribbean Rum symbol on the labels.