Long Pond – Home of Jamaican Funk
Love them or loathe them, you won’t forget your first sip of a classic northern Jamaican rum! Located in the north-western Caribbean Sea, Jamaica has a long and rich history with rum. Sugarcane, the foundation of all rum, was first introduced to the island in 1494. Over the next few centuries Jamaica became a hub for rum production with more than 100 working distilleries having been founded by the late 19th century. Today, only six distilleries remain operational on the island, one of which has undoubtedly stayed true to the classic ‘funky’ flavour profile that defines the islands roots – Long Pond distillery.
Trelawny region, Jamaica
History of Long Pond Distillery
Founded in 1753, Long Pond distillery is located in the Trelawny parish of Jamaica, just north of the aptly named Long Pond Mountain. The origins of the distillery can be difficult to define, with its modern history not becoming clear until the mid-1900s when Seagram chief, Samuel Bronfman, acquired the distillery from the Jamaican government and established the Captain Morgan brand, utilizing Jamaican rum from various small Trelawny estates also. It is often overlooked that the Morgan’s brand entered the market as a robust Jamaican rum, and not the softer spiced rum we are familiar with today.
The following decades saw somewhat troublesome times for Long Pond. A series of ownership transfers, intertwined with distillery closures, saw the Jamaican authorities begin a process of nationalising rum-production on the island. The National Rums of Jamaica Ltd (NRJ) was established in the 1980s and began to take control of several of the island’s distilleries, Long Pond being one. Today, NRJ retains control of Long Pond and remains partially owned by the Jamaican government, with Demerara Distillers in Guyana and Maison Ferrand in France taking up the remaining shares.
Recent years haven’t been easy for the distillery either, with a term of closure forced between 2012-2017 as a result of leakages in their dunder storage tanks and the lengthy repair process that followed. Just one year later in 2018 a fire in the surrounding cane fields at the distillery spread to Long Pond’s fermentation room, with the resulting damage forcing a further period of closure. Both events have resulted in stock shortages today, and with demand high, the esteemed rum is becoming increasingly difficult to find.
Rare expressions of Long Pond by Silver Seal
Embodying Northern Jamaica’s High-Ester ‘Funk’
Despite having been in operation for more than 250 years, Long Pond distillery hold true to their roots and are revered for their classic northern Jamaican style of rum.
Northern Jamaican rums are celebrated for being big, heavy bodied, aromatic rums with a distinctive fresh fruit profile: commonly of ripe banana, mango, and fresh pineapple. These intense rums can be divisive and are often referred to as having a ‘funky’ flavour. There is an array of factors that contribute to creating a high-ester powerful rum of this nature and Long Pond have mastered this process over the years.
Long Pond has historically produced rum using both John Dore & Vendome pot stills and a Blair column still, however damage to the Blair still resulted in it being decommissioned in 2009 with no current plans for revival. Pot stills remain operational on-site and produce a heavy, robust spirit, yet the true secret to Long Pond’s distinctive rum is their fermentation practices and famous muck pits.
The famed ‘muck pit’ (also known as a dunder pit) can be seen as a signature of the distillery. Muck, if you’re not familiar with the term, is an ultra-high acid mixture added to the heavy rum wash during fermentation, creating incredibly rich flavours and complexity in the resulting rum. Long Pond practices an extended fermentation period of up to three weeks (some rum distillery’s fermentation time can be as little as 24hrs!), again adding to the high-ester character that can divide rum lovers across the globe.
Elusive Bottlings from the Famed Distillery
Long Pond’s output has been traditionally sold as bulk rum for blending, however, over the years independent bottlings of Long Pond have emerged and become incredibly sought-after by rum connoisseurs. See below some of the legendary expressions that Rum Auctioneer have had the privilege of bringing to auction.
Highlight bottlings from Long Pond (featured left to right below)
Long Pond 1996 Silver Seal 14 Year Old / Wildlife No.1
A legendary expression of Long Pond from the revered independent bottling company Silver Seal - the 1996 Wildlife No.1 edition. Distilled in 1996 and aged for 14 years.
Long Pond 1941 Silver Seal Special Reserve
This is an exceptional example of a rare single cask bottling of Long Pond, distilled back in 1941 and selected for bottling by Silver Seal. Silver Seal was founded by Ernesto Mainardi in 2000 and quickly became known for their independent bottlings of quality rum. The company was sold to Massimo Righi in 2010 and Ernesto’s original releases continue to become increasingly sought-after by collectors and connoisseurs alike.
Long Pond Vale Royal 9 Year Old Averys for Corti Brothers 1970s
A truly special bottle of 9-year-old Long Pond released in the late 1970s by Averys of Bristol for the Corti Brothers of Sacramento, California. Corti Brothers have acquired a near cult like status among collectors and connoisseurs over the years.
Long Pond 1941 Gordon and MacPhail
Arguably the most legendary bottling of Long Pond ever released - the 1941 vintage Gordon and MacPhail. As one of the largest and most recognisable whisky companies in the world, Gordon & MacPhail’s reputation precedes itself and releases of this nature are rare. This single cask Long Pond was distilled in 1941 and released in 1999 after having matured in the Elgin, Scotland since 1967. A truly remarkable bottling rarely seen at auction.