April’s Fool 2019: Jamaica increases ester limit, allows adulteration to increase competitiveness

Last week, the Jamaican government agreed on a new law which aims at “ensuring the international competitiveness of local rum producers” due to “changing preferences by customers around the globe”. The move may come as a surprise to industry insiders since talks about a new GI saw huge progress and rum sales have been booming recently but according to Sam Blackswell, the Jamaican Minister of Rum, it was “necessary […] since consumer around the globe have become accustomed to sweeter, adulterated rums”. At the same time he acknowledges the “increased demand for high ester rums, […] especially in Austria and Germany”, which have a history in buying Jamaican high-ester rum (Keyword: “Rumverschnitt”).

Besides a few minor regulations on production, the new law covers the following points:

  • the upper ester limit has been increased to 3000g/hlaa, up from 1600.
  • it is now explicitly allowed to add sugar, glycerin and a whole range of other artificial sweeteners to rum (click here for a complete list).
  • pre-mixed drinks may now be sold as rum, as long as they contain at least 51% of rum.

A few distilleries have already announced that they will seize this opportunity and start producing higher ester rums at very high sugar levels. I briefly spoke to Fayard Galbraith, who operates a tiny, relatively unknown distillery in the parish of St. Andrew and he told me that this finally opens up entirely new opportunities for him and his small family business. He immediately started raising money to add more fermentation tanks and a new multi-column still, which he will use to sell Pimento-flavoured high ester rum and Ting & Rum premixes. “Especially UK-based rum enthusiast have been waiting for this and these drinks have always been popular across the Caribbean”, he says.

It’s unclear what all of this means for us rum enthusiasts but we can only hope that at least some distilleries will keep on selling true, unadulterated rums. Given the new direction the country is taking, this seems unlikely however. We shall keep you updated in case any new information emerge.

Addendum (2.4.2019)

To state the obvious, yesterdays post was of course just an April’s Fool joke.The message should be trivial: Don’t immediately believe everything you hear or read and critically assess the provided information. Always look for validating sources and stay clear of blatant inductive nonsense. I am sure everyone has done these mistakes before and most of us are subject to these fallacies on some level or another on a regular basis, without even noticing it. Let’s minimise this as much as possible.