Monday, November 7, 2016

Jamaica Day 3

This morning we had to be up a little bit earlier than normal. First and probably only day that we HAD to be up early and for this I am thankful.  We got up and headed to the breakfast buffet that had all the usual breakfast offerings.  

The resort was beautiful and calm at that hour! 

And then we were off to our day of fun.  Starting with a tour of the Black River.  This river is pretty cool because where as most swamps are brown, this water is clear and you can see to the bottom which is made of Peet and solid black. So the water has the illusion of being completely black, hence the name. 

The highlight was seeing a few endangered and protected crocodiles. Since it was just a few months ago that I did an alligator tour in New Orleans I thought it was fun to contrast with a crocodile tour now. These guys are huge and kind of cuter! 

After our tour of the black river, we were off to the Appleton Rum Estate.  Now I am not much of a drinker but if there is anything I actually do like to drink, it is Appleton rum.  So I was kind of excited to get to see how it all is made.  

It started with people drinking way too many rum punches.  Like, the second your hands were empty they were offering you another one. They kept saying "more rum, more fun"!  We were promised lunch at this location and lunch was not ready on time so I wasn't going to over partake as we were already told the Rum would be flowing pretty heavily the entire duration of time we were there.  We also had the opportunity to chew on a piece of sugar cane. 

After people had 3 or 4 rounds of this Rum Punch (which I think they said had 4 different types of Rum in it) we were off on the tour. First a stop to see how they used to make the rum.  They were pretty proud of the fact that there is never any waste of the sugar cane plant.  They used to tie up donkeys to churn a machine that squeezes out the sugar cane.  The donkey was happy to chew up a sugar cane branch as his reward for demonstrating. 

 After a few more tidbits and looks at old machinery we were able to climb up several steep sets of stairs to check out a viewing point. This is where I was glad I had not enjoyed as many rum punches as everyone else had as I could maneuver those stairs pretty well.  The journey to the estate is an interesting one, set high up in the mountains.  The estate is made up of 2200 acres and all of the Appleton Rum in the entire world comes from this one estate. He also bragged that the estate is well protected by all the mountains surrounding it from any hurricanes harming it. He told us a few times to just come see them if we're on the island for a hurricane. Not only will we be protected but they have plenty of rum to go around.

And then we were through a security gate to the actual operation. We couldn't photograph inside the buildings. The distillery is currently closed for the month of November as it does every year for maintenance and then they are making rum the rest of the year. He said we were lucky though because the building is far hotter when they are making rum.  It was plenty hot without, so I can only imagine.  They have old machines and new machines.  The old machines take longer to make the rum but they use this old and slow process still to make their best batches.  They also have a very high proof (like 180).  He said he used to drink that stuff but it would hit you pretty hard.  I also found it interesting that the employees were all drinking alcohol. I don't know if this is normal or because they were doing maintenance but I've never seen anyone drinking on the job but many employees were enjoying the rum punch on their breaks. Guess maybe it's okay if you work at a rum factory?!?

Then we visited a barrel room. He explained all the ins and outs and how barrels work and how the rum evaporating makes the temp of the room cooler and that the rum is actually in the air. If we were to stay in there for too long, we'd get drunk just off of breathing the air.  He explained why the Caribbean is the most ideal place in the world (because of the temp) for rum to age.  This room had over 8000 barrels in it but it is their smallest barrel room. Some of their barrel rooms have over 30,000 barrels aging. They have spread out the barrel rooms all across the island just in case a natural disaster or fire were to destroy one barrel room, it wouldn't destroy all of the Appleton.  

They have rum aging between 3 years and 50 years.  The 50 year bottle will only set you back $5000 USD.  The rum evaporates at a rate of 6% per year, so by the time the rum is 50 years old, it has mostly evaporated so that is part of the reason that it is so expensive.  He claims there is nothing like that 50 year aged and I would believe it. Guess we will have to take his word for it as that is one thing we will probably never taste. 

Then it was back outside for a few more demonstrations.  Their process of making molasses and then taking out the sugar to make rum is interesting.  We all got to taste test it at this stage.  They claimed at this stage that it is very very healthy for us. 

We also got to try a big glass of strained sugar cane. 

Then it was back to the main building where lunch was finally ready. It was way late in the day and we were all starving.  After a very yummy lunch of jerk chicken and beans and rice we were sent to the sampling room. This was open for as much as anyone wanted to partake.  Holy cow!  There were many different types to try and he told us all about each one.  He said the absolute WORST thing anyone could ever do with Appleton is mix it with coke or pepsi - it's too good for that he says. So there you go!  The room started with so many different options but he kept bringing out more and more types to try too, so it was kind of crazy. Now I have already said I am pretty darn picky and really only like Appleton, and most that I tried were pretty good but the best of the best had to have been Rum Cream. Something new we've been introduced to over here and its unfortunate it hasn't found its way over to the states just yet.  Maybe someday.  

After finally making our way back to the resort in late afternoon, we rested and got cleaned up and headed off to the beach for beach party night!  What a fun and cool environment for the evening. 


And as if Peter hadn't had enough rum for one day, they filled him up a coconut!

After another wonderful dinner, we stopped at the dessert shop on the way home where I enjoyed a delicious crepe filled with strawberries, chocolate, and whipped cream. Oh my, I will be returning for more of these. Peter ended his evening with some coffee and even more rum cream.  Gonna have to keep an eye on that boy while on vacation! 

All that to say, another wonderful day in paradise. It was fun to get out and learn and see a bit more of this beautiful island.  Tomorrow is another fun and exciting day, with the theme being RELAX - my favorite!