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Cayman Spirits – Rum packs a historical punch

At the Cayman Spirits Co., they know their rum.

Rich molasses from the East End is transformed via copper still into young spirit, which is then barrel-aged Seven Fathoms down off the coast of Cayman.

It is a modern spirit-making process for a product synonymous with the Caribbean, according to Distillery Manager Moises Sevilla.

“This is basically the birthplace of what we know as rum today,” he said. “Christopher Columbus is credited as being the godfather of rum, he brought it from the Canary Islands and it exploded from there.”

Historically, Cayman’s coffers have been swelled on the proceeds of rum.

As Michael Craton states in his book Founded upon the Seas: A History of the Cayman Islands and Their People, during the American prohibition era, Cayman’s Commissioner allowed the importation and storage of liquor into the island from Cuba, Jamaica and Haiti.

Bootleggers would then pay an export duty to allow it to be transported on.

The financial benefit was transformative – the value of exports between 1923-24 almost tripled and many of the national buildings in George Town were constructed on the back of these profits.

But Presbyterian ministers and anti-bootlegging forces mobilised against liquor in the 1926 election.

Although rum-running slowed, the romance of rum endured.

“The Caribbean makes the best rum in the world and people come here to taste that magical spirit,” Cayman Spirits Co.’s co-founder and distiller Walker Romanica said.

Rum is consistently one of the Caribbean’s top grossing export items, but in 2017, for the first time, the world’s best selling rum actually came from the Philippines.

About the author

Caroline James

Caroline James

Caroline joined Cayman 27 in September 2018 after seven years working for Sky News in London, both as a Producer on the World News programme and, latterly, as News Editor on the Foreign Desk, where she led coverage on the ground of stories as diverse as the 2016 US Election, corruption allegations surrounding FIFA and The Oscars. Before this, she worked as a Producer for Associated Press Television News (APTN) for two years, based in their London headquarters. Caroline graduated with a BA Hons degree in Arabic, French and German from Durham University, before gaining an MA in Television Journalism with distinction at City University, London. When not hunting down stories in Cayman, she can be found playing tennis, practicing Bikram yoga or enjoying a beer on Seven Mile Beach. You can reach Caroline at carolinejames@hurleysmedia.ky or 326-2243.

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