For persons interested in knowing the history of Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) and the processes required to produce a bottle of rum, a visit to DDL’s Rum Heritage Centre at Diamond can be quite rewarding.
In an interview with Stabroek News, Carl Kanto, Production Manager at DDL said that the decision to open the centre in 2007 arose from the lack of documented history behind the El Dorado brand of rums. He added that while El Dorado is known worldwide, not many persons know the deep history behind the various brands, which has its origins during the country’s period of nationalization.
He said that while they have been able to document some of the early beginnings of DDL in the rum industry, work is still being done to source more information and artefacts.
For a reasonable price, tours of the centre can be arranged where visitors will be able to see various replicas of equipment used by the company and photographs spanning the ages. There are also displays of various brands of rum which have been manufactured since the inception of the company.
The tour package not only allows one to visit the centre but also to have a tour of the distillery and warehouse. The distillery offers the visitor a better understanding of the production process since they are given a breakdown of all the input procedures.
Kanto said that during tours that he has conducted, persons told him of their surprise at the amount of work that goes into the production of rum and this leads to greater appreciation for it. “A bottle of rum is not just a bottle of rum, there is much more behind it,” he said.
In explaining the process, Kanto said that all rums produced by DDL are blended and the processes to produce cheap rum is very similar to an expensive one. The only difference is that ‘younger’ ones such as the five-year-old brand are not aged as much as the expensive ones like the twenty-five-year-old.
He said the uniqueness of the premium rums produced by the company is due to the wooden stills which are used in the distillation process. These stills which are the only ones of their kind in the world have had to be repaired over time since the company sees them as integral to the taste of their rums.
Further, Kanto said that he wanted persons to understand that “you don’t have to drink rum and get drunk”; rather it is possible to enjoy and appreciate its unique flavour and taste without abusing it. Having an enjoyable time, he said, was not about losing one’s senses but enjoying a quality drink.
He advocated the need for responsible drinking. He opined that banning alcohol was not the solution to the problem of abuse but a change in education was needed.
The history of Demerara Distillers Limited dates back to 1670 when distilleries were established in the county of Demerara in then British Guiana.
With the start of Guyana Liquor Corporation, the company moved from a solely bulk producer to a bulk/brand producer ushering in the advent of the now world famous El Dorado brand on the local market. In 1983 the name was changed to Demerara Distillers Limited.