Southeastern Section - 68th Annual Meeting - 2019

Paper No. 20-5
Presentation Time: 1:00 PM-5:00 PM


HAGGQUIST, Jack and ELKINS, Joe T., Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Northern Colorado, Box 100, Greeley, CO 80639

Commercial rum production (distilled spirits derived from sugar cane) in Jamaica is confined to alluvial valleys in heavily karstified terrain across the island nation. The valleys where the distilleries are located are occupied by rivers that drain local hillscapes. The rocks that make up the bedrock of the hillscapes are comprised of the White Limestone Group (Eocene-Miocene), which dominates the geology of the island. Four distilleries in operation today have been continuously operating since the mid-1700’s. They are the oldest distilleries in the nation and constitute a substantial share of the Caribbean rum market. The rum distilleries are part of commercial sugar cane farms and the distilling operations are currently situated near their original locations. Since the mid-1700’s, two other large commercial rum distilleries have been established: Clarendon Distillers Ltd in 1901 and the Innswood Distillery in 1957. While these two distilleries were established after the development of modern water treatment, they are situated in a similar geological and geomorphic context of their much older counterparts. The phenomenon of Jamaican rum distilleries being situated in similar geomorphic context, in watersheds that drain hills comprised of the White Limestone Group, suggests that physical and chemical characteristics of the natural water in these watersheds play an important role in the commercial success of these businesses. It is noteworthy that no rum distilleries are situated in non-carbonate terrains, even though the geology of the island is diverse and contains plutonic, volcanic, metamorphic, and a variety of non-carbonate sedimentary rocks.