Montego Bay Soon Come

I finished my Montego Bay Scarf just before christmas and brought it to Jamaica with me. I wore it on the plane and it was lovely, warm and soft. I even managed to get some nice photos of it relaxing by the beach in the sun.
Travel is an amazing thing, we left Dublin on a chilly snowy morning and arrived in Kingston to hot sun. I presume most of you aren't amazed but this was only my second trip across the Atlantic so the complete season change on landing is still amazing to me.

We saw blue skies, crocodiles on the Black River, flowers, listened to christmas reggae music and snorkeled to see a coral reef which was beautiful. I'm sure it will inspire me to make some crochet coral for the Irish Crochet Coral Reef. More photos here.

I visited the Appleton Rum distillery which was a fun trip. I've never been to a distillery before so it was interesting to see how rum is made. Unlike many producers Appleton actually let you in to see the distilling room and the barrel aging room. Rum is made from sugar cane and nowadays it's a very efficient process with almost all of the juice being extracted from the cane and the waste fibre used to power the plant. The juice from the sugar cane is boiled to reduce it to molasses. It's then fermented and after that distilled to produce a pure clear spirit. Appleton uses mostly pot stills combined with continuous column stills. Even though it is mostly pure some flavour compounds remain from the fermentation and the still to give the spirit it's taste. This spirit is white rum and at 60% it's rocket fuel, drink carefully!  

In Jamaica it's traditional to drink white rum with sorrel, sugar and ginger as a christmas drink. We had this on christmas day and it really fits the season with it's lovely red colour, it's sweet and spicy and pretty refreshing on a hot christmas day. 

The real magic of rum happens when it's aged in oak barrels. The spirit extracts different flavours from the wood. It is aged for varying lengths of time. In the Caribbean rum ages quickly in the warm climate. A portion of the rum is lost to evaporation and this is called the Angel's share. Again due to the climate a lot of rum can be lost to evaporation especially when the rum is aged for many years. They say a rum aged for one year here is equivalent to a rum aged for 3 elsewhere. The barrel room feels cold due to all the alcohol in the air evaporating on your skin and cooling it. Our guide told us staff are only allowed in the room for a certain length of time as they would eventually get drunk from the fumes.  I tasted the Appleton 12 year old rum and it was somewhat like a whiskey, rich and dark. 

I also tasted El Doardo 15 year old rum from Guyana which my sister in law assured me was the best rum in the world. It's pretty powerful stuff but I don't really know how to describe it. I think it may have been a bit lost on me I'm afraid. I'm much more of a beer girl than a spirits lady.

Speaking of beer I discovered Red Stripe had just launched a new beer called Bold. When big beer brands release something new it tends be a thin light imitation of their original so I was expecting another new beer along the lines of Red Stripe light. Red Stripe light is great in the hot climate as it's 3.5% so you can drink it and not get too tipsy. Red Stripe Bold is surprising in that it's a stronger, darker, sweeter, hoppier version of the original Red Stripe. It's quite nice, a little too sweet for me though. It's pretty strong so care is needed in the heat when it's tempting to drink lots of them to keep cool.

We had a great christmas in Jamaica, that injection of sun will help with the long cold dark days of january. It been really cold here with snow and ice that just isn't melting. Maybe it's time I took out the brewing gear and made a lager, kolsch or alt beer. I'll also have news of my exciting win over at undermeoxter. With all the snow I'm inside knitting a lot so there will be many new finished projects coming up. This post is a mixed bag of all my interests, let me know if you guys like it.

4 Responses to "Montego Bay Soon Come" (Leave A Comment)

Anonymous says
January 5, 2010 at 12:22 AM

Fantastic-- what an adventure. I know nothing about rum. I like that the evaporated portion is called the Angels share. Very poetic!

I like the mix of interests...maybe that's just because I share them? I would think not though.

The Beer Nut says
January 5, 2010 at 2:00 AM

That's a pretty intense husband you've got yourself there. Has he just recognised the photographer as the monekey man who slaughtered his family's chickens?

(I nicked one of your photos for my blog recently. Hope that's OK.)

Sinéad says
January 5, 2010 at 5:11 AM

I went to the Mount Gay Rum distillery on my homeymoon in Barbados years ago and it was a great tour. I can still remember the samples of Rum Punch!
Doesn't the scarf look great on the beach? That photo (and the others) should keep you going through the yucky winter.

UnderMeOxter says
January 5, 2010 at 10:21 AM

A mixture of Beer and Knitting? What's not to like? Okay, so the beer makes the knitting come out all wonky but ripping only leads to more knitting. ;-)
Sounds like a great holiday and there's really nothing like a dose of sun in the middle of winter.