When and how did you start the story of Richland Rum ?
Richland Rum was started in 1999, when we purchased a farm in South Georgia and began to grow sugarcane for the sole purpose of making Rum. It is a family enterprise, just my husband Erik and I. We celebrate 20 years this Year! By now we have grown to 10 employees, distilleries, and hundreds of hectares of sugar cane!
You told me you have your own cane sugar fields, is it enough to cover all your production or do you have some contracts with local farmers ?
We grow our own sugar cane and every year we increase the planting area. We still produce sufficient sugar cane to supply our two distilleries for the entire year. We currently do not have contracts with local farmers, although that may change in the future. On our bottle, we say, Single Estate Rum, and we keep our promises. From our own farm to the bottle: Single Estate. Last year we added a second production facility/distillery so we are running double capacity. The second distillery is in Brunswick, on the Georgia Coast at the Atlantic Ocean.
Which variety(ies) of cane sugar do you grow ?
We experimented with many varieties over the last 20 years, but we now are down to 2 varieties; Georgia Red and P.O.J. POJ stands for ProefstationOost Java. This is funnily enough Dutch for Testing Station Eastern Java (Indonesia). Dutch immigrants (from Holland ) from what once was the Dutch-Indies (Indonesia) brought this variety to the Americas and this is the now the most common variety grown in the USA. As you know, Erik and I were born in Holland and are Dutch immigrants to the US ourselves !
Is the weather like in Georgia state suitable to grow cane sugar ?
The climate and terroir in the Southern part of Georgia and along the Atlantic Coast is excellent for producing sugar cane. In the 1700s and 1800s, sugar cane was one of the main crops here. Because we sometimes do get frost in the winter, harvest time is October, November, only once a year. Long, hot and humid summers make sure that the stands of sugar cane grow tall and have a high sugar content. Our farm is blessed with an abundance of water. There is an underground river (aquifer) from which we tap the cleanest spring water for irrigation and for use in the process of making Rum.
You communicate about "authentic rum", tell us : how do you make your rum ? (potstill, creole column, sugar no sugar added, aromatized or not, fertilizer...)
We communicate 'authentic' Rum, because we use the same process that distilleries in the Caribbean used in the past. The sugarcane is grown organically, (no pesticides, no herbicides), we distill in small 1,000 copper pot stills, our Rum is distilled only one time, all sugar have been converted into alcohol during fermentation and we do NOT add any sugar anywhere in the process. We are one of very few Rums that have NO sugar, as in ZERO sugar.
Richland Rum has only two ingredients: sugar cane and water. Homegrown sugarcane and spring water from our farm. No additives, no aromas, no sugar, no glycerin, no mouthfeel changers, ZERO additives!!!
Interesting fact is that we have an antique French copper potstill with preheated in our Tasting Room in Richland. The still is from late 1700s and was found in an old farm near Bordeaux. This model was used for cognac of course, but was later brought to the French colonies to distill sugar cane for Rum!
I will send a picture in a separate email.
You have a good traceability on your rums bottles, tell us why you made these choices : Richland Rum is Singke Estate AND single barrel Rum. We never blend, and there is no barrel the same. You may have noticed that there is no age statement on the bottle. That is because we let the barrel decide when the Rum is ready. Sometimes we bottle after 3 ½ years of aging, sometimes it takes 4 ½ years before the Rum is ready. With the Barrel Pedigree Tracer the consumer can learn about the age of the Rum, read some tasting notes, and compare this with other barrels. The Pedigree tracer distinguishes Richland Rum from all other Rums.
Your white rum is rested 60 days in new oak barrel (from where ?) And why did you decide to age your white rum 60 days ?
Our barrels are made in Kentucky of American White Oak. We let the Virgin Rum rest in a toasted barrel for 30-60 days, to let the natural process of oxidation and other processes run their course before bottling.
One of your old rum is a Single barrel - small batches, whith the number of the barrique and of the bottle , is there an organoleptic - a tasting difference between all ?
All our Rums are Single Barrel! We never blend. We bottle every barrel individually. There are definitely tasting differences between each barrel, the profile differs slightly from one barrel to the next. Richland Rum is not a McDonalds hamburger that tastes the same every day and everywhere, from Tokyo to Los Angeles. Richland Rum is a true authentic, artisan, hand crafted product.
You can trace each barrel on the Pedigree tracer on our website.
Richland rum Elan Port Cask Exchange : Richland Rum was aged 3 years, then you removed the rum, sent the empty barrel to château Elan to aged their Port for a year, bottled the Port and sent you back the empty barrel that you filled again the barrel with the 3 years aged rum for one more year ? Isnt'it ?
You got it !! That's exactly right ! Yes, we are crazy.. it is a lot of work. While our barrel was at Chateau Elan, the Rum that was originally in it, was put in a brand new barrel until its own barrel came back. Barrel for barrel, the Rum was put back and aged for another year to get that slight, subtle port note. All in all this Port Cask Exchange Rum is about 5 years old. And it's delicious !
In that case, it means the 3 years aged rum rested for a year in bulk before being poured again in the "port" oak barrel ?
No, not in bulk. The Rum from one barrel is put in another (new) barrel of the same size ( 200 liters). And afterwards the same Rum that was originally in that barrel is put back in. I know... we are a little crazy, very hard work....
Do you look for something special at the tasting, why did you choose this way ?
It's an experiment and we had no specific thing in mind. But grapes and sugar cane are both natural sweet, so wine, Port and Rum would work well together, we were thinking. The Rum Barrel aged Port is outstanding. The Port Cask Rum is sweeter than the other Rums, due to the higher sugar content in Port. Although we make sure there is no residue of Port in the barrels when they come back us, the wood is completely saturated with port and has given us a beautiful additional expression of Richland Rum.
What is you next dream with Richland rum ?
We are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year! Our Rum adventure was never intended to be a business! In 1999, when we purchased the farm, we set out to make Rum that our friends and family would appreciate as a Christmas gift.
But 10 years later, in 2009, the Mayor of a nearby town approached us and asked if we would open a distillery in his little town of Richland to help him with economic revitalization. Richland is a very small town, a ghost town, all people have moved to the cities for work and school and there is not much going on. My husband Erik and I decided to do this, as a civic duty to the community and help to improve the lives of the local residents and create some economic growth.
Well, fast forward the clock to 2019, we have bought and renovated 7 historic buildings ( that had been run down and boarded up for 30 years or so) and have changed the look of the town.
now, thousands and thousands of people visit Richland Rum from all over the world for tours and tastings and to buy Rum. We employ people and generate tax revenue for the City. So all in all, things are looking up for The City of Richland.
( when we moved the distillery to Richland, we also changed the name of our Rum to Richland Rum)
For the future, we hope to bring even more prosperity to the City of Richland and create a nice community with restaurants, hotels, employment for all, a great place where people want to live and can work.
Interview de Karin Vonk par Aurélie Flammang
Traduction en français par Maëva Lafont
Richland Rum 1
355 East Broad Street Richland
Richland Rum 2
1406 Newcastle Street Brunswick