History Is Still Making...
I’ve been thinking about Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) in Guyana, because of the fab bottle of El Dorado 12 Year Old rum that is the prize in this month’s Rum of the Month competition. The question requires the reader to identify the unique, double wood pot still that produces part of the blend that forms El Dorado 12 year old.
Whilst the article tells you a little about two of the unique wooden stills that reside at the Diamond Distillery, there is in fact a third wooden still, it’s just that for the purposes of the article – it didn’t quite fit - so with that in mind I thought a focused look was in order at the entire wood still range. The competition is proving to be a little tougher than I suspected it to be for some people – so perhaps with a little revision, you might reconsider your answer and submit a new entry!
So then, Diamond Distillery has the worlds only, fully production utilised wooden stills – three of them no less, each adding a special something to the rums they produce. Whilst its right to say that the majority of the rums in the El Dorado range are blends, there are Marques that are 100% rum distillate from that particular still – these are a bit special and the bottle price tends to be the giveaway in this regard.
The Demerara Distillers website has all manner of information on it about the stills and of course includes the metal stills which equally have a long history and remarkable influence on the smell and flavour of the rum they produce.
Port Mourant – a wooden double pot still: This came from the Port Mourant Estate, a distillery that was established in 1732. It was first moved to Uitvlught and then in 2000 it was moved to the Diamond distillery. The rum from this still was the choice for the British Royal Navy blend. It is still used in the recipe for the major ‘navy’ style rums. The wood adds character and the copper neck also has an influence. The double pot arrangement gives the spirit a unique deep flavour and rich texture. This is used in the blends for El Dorado 8yo, 12yo, 15yo and 25yo. The single barrel (distilliate), PM Marque rum is produced from the Port Mourant wooden, double pot still.
Versailles – a single wooden pot still: This came to the Diamond distillery from the Versailles distillery that was originally on the West bank of the Demerara. This still is at least 150 years old, but it could be considerably older as there is no documentation from when it was built. A wooden still with a copper neck just like the Port Mourant still. This still gives a more elegant spirit than the Port Mourant still – notes of smoke, spice and a slightly floral hint is present. Used only in the 15yo and 21yo.
Enmore – the World’s only wooden column still which is also the oldest operating Coffey still in the world. It was built in 1880 using the plans originally published by Coffey and so is the exact same design as the first Coffey still.
It is made of Greenheart wood which is a native Guyanese hardwood and adds complexity and richness to the spirit – this is due mainly to the residue of previous distillations that is left ingrained in the wood, which adds character to the spirit vapour as it passes through the still. This is contained in El Dorado 5yo, 8yo, 12yo, 15yo, 21yo and 25yo.
The single barrel (distillate) EHP Marque is produced from the Enmore still. EHP stands for Edward Henry Porter – the owner of the sugar estate (founded nearly two hundred years ago) that fed the distillery. The wooden Coffey still has been producing rum distillates since 1880! Perhaps not as efficient as more modern stainless steel, continuous column stills – but still very productive and capable of producing some very fine rum.
The Diamond distillery also has another remarkable still, which reinforces DDL’s credentials as being a company fully in touch with its heritage. The four-column metal French Savalle Still was inherited from the 18th century Uitvlught Estate on the west coast of Demerara County. Distillate from this still is used in the El Dorado, Single Barrel (distillate) ICBU Marque rum.
Mission: to get TheFloatingRumShack.com to Guyana and see the stills first hand... A long shot – but a chaps gotta dream eh?
Our thanks to Stefanie Holt, brand ambassador for El Dorado rum - for the information and pictures.