For rum enthusiasts around the world, the name ‘Demerara‘ elicits a mix of reverence and longing. Who are the fans of Demerara rum? These devotees range from individuals who cherish the taste to investors who wager their savings on these rare bottles, understanding their value will multiply over the years.
A Glimpse into Demerara’s History
Delving briefly into its history, Demerara is a lowland region tucked away in the central-eastern part of Guyana.
The region’s borders extend from the Amazon jungle in the west to the Atlantic Ocean in the east. It was initially a Dutch colony from 1746 to 1815, before being transferred to British control and becoming part of British Guyana.
The region’s first sugar cane plantation was established in 1746, marking the inception of the colony. By 1769, the colony had expanded considerably, with around 6000 slaves working across 130 plantations.
Birthplace of Rum: The Advent of Demerara Distilleries
Demerara’s journey into rum production predates even the colony’s formation. In the mid-17th century, the Dutch introduced sugar cane to Guyana, strategically planting it along flat riverbanks for ease of production and transportation. The British followed suit in the subsequent decade, establishing the first distilleries and marking the birth of Demerara rum. The meteoric rise in rum’s popularity led to a distillery at each plantation. By the early 18th century, Guyana boasted over 300 independent estates, each with its own plantation and distillery.
However, the number dwindled to 180 by the latter half of the 18th century due to liquidations and consolidations. By the 1850s, only 18 remained as a result of the advent of sugar beets. Despite the fluctuating numbers, each distillery was celebrated for its unique, characteristic rum, distinguishable by a signature symbol. Today, only one distillery remains – Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), a treasure trove of history and home to some of the world’s most distinctive rums.
Demerara Distillers Limited: An Heirloom of Stills
Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) sits on the east bank of the Demerara River, within the Diamond estate. Over time, it has inherited all the old and original stills from the closed distilleries, some of which were operational between 1998 and 2000. These age-old stills, the oldest wooden still in the world, along with some enduring copper ones, lend DDL’s rums a unique and intricate character. These features, combined with Demerara’s high evaporation rate due to tropical aging, contribute to the exceptional exclusivity and unique taste that have led collectors to consider DDL’s rums a gem among spirits.
Velier ‘Demerara Selections’ Movie
The Rise of Valier’s Demerara Selections
The story of Demerara took a transformative turn in 1999 when Luca Gargano of Velier met with Yesu Persaud, the chairman of DDL. Luca suggested that Yesu start bottling different types of rum from different stills. As a result, the first original, one-of-a-kind bottlings of different Demerara marks, fully aged in the tropics, marked a turning point in rum history.
From 2002, Luca personally handpicked every Demerara bottling from the following series, starting with three releases bottled by Breitenstein Products, DDL’s European headquarters at the time. Luca’s unique selections stem from his unparalleled ability to personally select from the thousands of barrels housed in “Warehouse No.1”.
His close relationship with Yesu Persaud, the legendary president of DDL, allowed him this exclusive privilege. Furthermore, Luca’s choice to maintain these bottlings “full proof” guarantees their remarkable quality.
The Rise and Recognition of Demerara Rums
Although these exceptional rums were initially met with scepticism and remained confined to a niche of connoisseurs for years, their true worth couldn’t be hidden for long. It was around 2010 when the world began to appreciate the exquisite nature of these bottles, thanks to enthusiastic reviews from major connoisseurs in Europe.
Today, these bottles are considered a rarity and some selections are worth a fortune in their own right. Fetching thousands of euros at auction, they represent the pinnacle of appeal in the rum world, not just among collectors but also among investors.
Thanks to Luca Gargano’s vision, Demerara rums have evolved from being confined to a connoisseurs’ niche to being globally recognized for their superior quality and rich history. As such, Demerara Velier Selections, with their distinct and intricate flavours, truly stand as a testament to the long and varied history of this treasured spirit.
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