Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Clarke's Court Rum Distillery: Touring Grenada

Inside Clarke's Court Rum Distillery, Grenada Distillers Ltd.
The journey to visit Clarke's Court was in proper style; beginning and ending with rum. The morning consisted of judging 56 rums for the 2012 Caribbean Alcohol Beverage (CAB) Tasting Competition. Not a bad way to start the day! Let's just say, the engine was primed and any inhibitions for drinking more rum dissolved after the final session of overproof. Onward to the Woodlands Valley for a tour of Clarke's Court Rum Distillery!



All aboard the Rum Bus!
 
Clarke's Court Rum Bus



Clarke's Court Rum Distillery
A blue sky was the backdrop for my first look at the Factory. The Grenada Sugar Factory operation dates back to 1937, however the site records indicate having an active mill since the 18th Century. Before the name Clarke's Court Rum was coined, their rums went by the name Tradewinds and Red Neck. Today it is Grenada's largest distillery. Inside the gated fence, the industrial complex is clean and well maintained with a "Hospitality Center" a few steps away. I already like where this is going...


 
The old scale used for weighing the sugar cane.

Weighing Scale (dated 1935)

 
 Sugar cane was last ground at Clarke's Court in 2003.


Old Sugar Cane Press & Conveyor Belt System 



Michael Kirton, Special Projects Manager
Mill House
Our tour was led by none other than Michael Kirton, Special Projects Manager at Grenada Distillers Limited (GDL). We walk outside looking, asking questions about what appear to vestigial remnants of an earlier time (see photos above). He tells us the days of obtaining and crushing local grown sugar cane as the base product for their rum ended in 2003 due to limited sugar cane production on the island. Mr. Ruel Edwards, General Manager, noted that in 1957, approximately 27,000 tons of sugar cane were produced in Grenada. By 2003, that number dropped to roughly 1,300 tons. To meet market demands, both domestic and future growth in export, change became necessary. Like many distilleries throughout the Caribbean today, Clarke's Court distills locally using imported molasses. The question of "why" sugar cane production declined is another topic altogether, but the impact that certain US subsidies has had on many Caribbean nations' economies and agricultural environment comes to mind.

 
Old Sugar Cane Crusher Roller


Distillation and fermentation processes are not active during our tour due to regular maintenance, but they fire up the steam engine wheel anway. Awesome!
 
 
Steam Engine Wheel
 
 
We breach the upper level of the Factory.


Old Juice Heaters
 
Fermentation and distillation take up the majority of the year from January through September, leaving time for both maintenance and time to meet increasing demand. There are five active tanks holding 7,000 imperial gallons each for fermentation processes.

Fermentation Tank







Old Liming Tanks








Although the Juice Heaters and Liming Tanks have not been used since 2003, one can imagine the sight of all of these components harmoniously functioning together to clarify the crushed cane juice as the truckloads of sugar cane rolled in.
 
Where it comes out Rum!
 
Column Stills
 
 
 Off to the Hospitality Center...a.k.a., Nick's Barrel House!!
 
Yours truly at Nick's Barrel House

 



 

Tasting Bar
Nick's Barrel House
The full line of rums at the bar for tasting is hospitality indeed. In front of the bar one can sit and enjoy in finished seats, once rum barrels and look across at their display (see photo below). Oh, did I mention, they sell and ship them? Getting to know each of the expressions in their line and talk with the staff is what it's all about. Many of their award winning rums are good value, including their recently released aged rum, Clarke's Court #37. Yum!
 
 
Take a seat and marinate in an old rum barrel!

Finished Rum Barrels
Nick's Barrel House
 
A closing note on the potency of Grenada's Rum...
 
Rum was being produced in Grenada during the 18th century. Indeed, it played a significant role during the 1795 Fedon Rebellion as a means of rendering British troops unfit for battle.
 
--Ruel Edwards, General Manager, Clarke's Court
 
 
Time to buy some Rum!
 
Retail Display
Nick's Barrel House
 
 Cheers to Mr. Michael Kirton and the staff at Clarke's Court for a wonderful tour!
 
 
 
 
 
On the way back we stopped off at Le Phare Bleu's Marina for a waterside drink...
 
Le Phare Bleu Marina
 
 
Grenada and its views are stunning!


View from Le Phare Bleu Marina


 
 
Readers stay tuned for the next article on rum in Grenada...

4 comments:

  1. The #37 luxury aged rum was a great surprise for me.

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  2. Yes, it was also at a very reasonable price point too

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  3. Too bad they didn't have the fermentation process that day, I'm more interested in how they keep the flavor of rum. However, Clarkes gave me a great idea about the barrel seats, thanks!-Jonathan

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  4. Hi weighing scale is good way to identify your weight its good.
    great poetry about Weighing scale.
    currently i am using digital weighing scale which show me accurate result.

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