With this piece on the Clarendon Distillery, I get to say I’ve talked about all the Jamaican distilleries on Malt. You can check the Appleton, Hampden, Long Pond, New Yarmouth and Worthy Park pieces if you’re interested in the others.
When I first paid more attention to Jamaican rum, Clarendon and Monymusk confused me the most. Until 2020, I had only seen Clarendom and Monymusk bottled by various independent bottlers. I knew they both came from one distillery, but it was unclear which of the two bore the distillery’s name. I had heard some say rum bottled as Clarendon meant it was purely pot distilled, while rum bottled as Monymusk were either blended or purely column distilled.
As Jamaican rum keeps getting more popular, the distillery made moves to make them less confusing. One of these moves was to establish Monymusk as Clarendon Distillery’s brand of rum. There are distillery bottlings such as this column distilled Gold rum and Overproof white But they’re not as available and as known as the other Jamaican brands.
Having just been built in 1949, Clarendon is the youngest of the currently operating Jamaican rum distilleries. It’s under the ownershipof National Rum of Jamaica (NRJ); this makes it partially owned by the Jamaican government, Maison Ferrand (owners of Plantation), and Guyana’s Demerara Distillers Limited (producers of El Dorado). In addition, it’s also partially owned by Diageo. To be clear, Diageo only has shares in Clarendon, and not in Long Pond.
It’s said that this is where Diageo gets their rum for Captain Morgan and Myers. I don’t know if it’s still the source for Myers after Sazerac bought it from Diageo. But, I’ve also heard that not all rum for Captain Morgan comes from Clarendon. Some rum is said to come from the Virgin Islands. The consensus is that these most likely get sold in the US due to the tax break, while the rum from Clarendon gets sold to Europe. I have no idea what the Virgin Island’s distillery specs are, but it’s safe to say the Captain Morgans that use Jamaican rum have more flavor. Also, Diageo doesn’t own Captain Morgan in Jamaica.
This Alcademics post says that Clarendon produces the most marques in Jamaica. After going back to previous notes I’ve made on Jamaican distilleries, I saw that it’s true. This is largely due to Clarendon housing both column and pot stills. The only other distilleries that house both types of stills are New Yarmouth and Appleton. But they don’t produce a lot of marques.
|Esters gr/hL AA
|Unaged high demand, aged 2-3 years
|Blends – aged & unaged
|Blends – banana aroma
|Formerly made by closed Sevens Estate
|Formerly made by closed Jamaica Sugar Estates
|Light + heavy
fermentation (no dunder)
|Light + heavy
fermentation (no dunder)
|Heavy fermentation (no dunder)
|Monymusk Light Continental
Most sought after
The washbacks here are a mix of wooden, which are left open, and stainless steel, which are closed. Fermentation for their lighter rum lasts for around 30 to 36 hours. Their funkier and heavier rum is fermented longer. The longest lasts for around a month which, I assume, is for the MLC marque. This one month fermentation is done for two weeks in the wooden washbacks, then transferred to the stainless steel tanks.
The column still is industrial. It’s what they use to distill light rum, but can also be configured to produce neutral spirits. There are two double retort pot stills in the distillery to produce the heavier rum.
Camper English, who runs Alcademics, also mentions that the distillery’s barrel entry proof is 70% ABV. They also don’t rechar their casks. Recharring casks “resets” a cask, so I assume the distillery wants their casks to retain the Jamaican rum flavor. There’s also no mention of a cooperage.
Another thing of note is that the distillery doesn’t use dunder and muck pits. Only Hampden and Long Pond are confirmed to use these methods. But the stillage is spread all over the cane fields to be used as fertilizer.
Today’s rum is an 11 year old 2007 pot distilled Monymusk bottled by the Thompson Bros for K&L. This was aged in a refill hogshead cask. I’ve had other Clarendon/Monymusk rum such as the NRJ Monymusk 2010 (purely column distilled) and from other IBs like Cadenheads, but this is the first I’ve had that’s confirmed to be purely pot distilled.
Thompson Bros Monymusk 11 Year Old (2007) – Review
K&L Exclusive. 56% ABV. USD $58.99 from K&L Wines & Spirits.
Color: Pale ale.
On the nose: I instantly get overly bold, lasting, and enveloping aromas of paint thinner, varnish and glue. Underneath are subtle fruit aromas of cherries, jackfruit, suha, lime peel, guava and ripe rambutan.
In the mouth: There are still chemical tastes here, but it’s a lot lighter compared to the nose. This is something I welcome as it offers a different aspect of the rum. I get a sharp bite of ethanol. It’s quickly followed by light tastes of cloves, a nutty chocolate, jackfruit, durian, chocolate coated orange, suha, lime peel and nutmeg.
If I were to describe this rum in one word, it would be “stubborn.” I nosed and tasted this just after pouring and thought it needed to settle down. I checked up on 15 and 30 minutes after and it was still the same. This bottle has also been open for at least a year but hasn’t been touched again as I forgot about it.
Aside from not toning down despite the allotted time, the order of flavors I get from this also doesn’t change.
I’m a fan of how this rum is two-faced. It’s harsher on the nose and gives off more fruits, while in the mouth, it’s toned down and gives off more spices. But, I’d say the nose in this is imbalanced. The chemical aromas just drown out the fruity aromas.
This is not a great first taste of a purely pot distilled rum from Clarendon, but it’s not horrible either. Thankfully, the price is acceptable, so I won’t feel guilty about using this in cocktails when I’m in the mood.
It’s a shame that there’s no mention of what marque this is, so I can compare it to other bottlings.