Worthy Park

Worthy Park is a sugar estate (patented in 1670) and distillery in Jamaica’s St. Catherine Parish and located just a bit east of the island’s heart. The production of sugar started in 1720 and it seems likely that the first rums have been distilled around that time as well. One source in Spanish Town’s archive mentions 1741 in this context. Like most other sugar producers and rum distillers, Worthy Park has been hit hard by falling sugar prices and as a result they stopped distilling in 1960. Instead, they focused on improving their farming and processing techniques, which transformed it into one of the most efficient producers of sugar in the Caribbean. In 2005, Gordon Clark, a member of the family that bought Worthy Park in 1918, decided to resume rum production. Today, they distill in a modern Forsyths pot-still with a double retort (see featured image), which is probably a compromise between efficient production and a flavourful product. It has a capacity of 18.000 litres and is used to distill the following products, where the brackets denote the ester range and yeast used:

  • WPEL – Worthy Park Extra Light (0-60, distiller’s yeast)
  • WPL – Worthy Park Light (60-119, distiller’s yeast)
  • WPM – Worthy Park Medium (120-239, proprietary yeast strain)
  • WPH – Worthy Park Heavy (240-360, wild yeast)
  • WPE – Worthy Park Extra (up to 800, wild yeast)

These are not very high values by Jamaican standards but we have already seen a Worthy Park with a higher ester concentration (Habitation Velier Forsyths WP 502, an unaged white rum). As mentioned above, Worthy Park takes a lot of pride in being the most efficient processor of sugar cane in the Caribbean. Where most other sugar factories need about eleven tons of sugar cane to produce one ton of sugar, Worthy Park only needs nine. After cutting most of the cane by hand, Matt Pietrek describes the process as follows:
First, the sugar cane is crushed and enriched with hot water, which is then squeezed through presses to extract a sugar juice. After that, the solid remains are separated from the liquid, which is heated until the water vaporises and the sugar crystalizes. Then, the liquid enters a centrifuge where the raw sugar is separated from the molasses. Between these steps, the individual parts, both solid and liquid, are automatically pumped through seemingly endless pipelines from one workstation to another. Similarly, the molasses is also pumped through an underground pipeline to the about one kilometer far distillery’s molasses tank. Their Forsysths still has a capacity of 18.000 litres, which are processed within five to six hours. While they currently operate the still only for half of the year, they could easily employ it full-time if needed (in his book “Rum Revolution”, Christian Stephenson informs us that they are planning on adding another still in the near future). Per day, they are capable of distilling 1000 nine-litre boxes of their overproof rum “Rum Bar”. Together with their four-year old “Rum Bar Gold” and a creamy rum liqueur, these products amount to about two-thirds of the distillery’s total production. Bar Appleton (J. Wray & Nephew), it is thus the only Jamaican distillery whose main emphasis seems to be on promoting their own brand. This is also reflected in their policy to force independent bottlers who are currently selling rums from Worthy Park to remove the distillery’s name from their labels. The motivation behind this is to strengthen their new aged rum under the name ‘Worthy Park’ which they are about to launch. In my opinion, this is a) not a smart move and b) highly disrespectful towards the bottlers without whom few people would care or even know about Worthy Park. Time will tell whether or not it was a smart decision from a business perspective.

The compulsory list of Worthy Park bottlings I have tried:

Corresponding brands:

  • Rum-Bar
  • Worthy Park

The featured image on this page is provided courtesy of Matt Pietrek.