Deep, polished mahogany color in the glass. Redolent nose filled with earthy, funky aromas of fresh molasses, lacquered wood, copper, and baked tropical fruits with a dry medium-full body and a tingling, medium-long rich, oily, and dry wood finish. A very dry and serious dark rum with a lot of Jamaican character, highly suited for tropical mixology.
Coruba Dark is a high ester, 100% Jamaican rum made by J. Wray & Nephew (in the older ‘Planter’s rum’ style) who trace their history back to 1825 when company founder John Wray opened The Shakespeare Tavern in Kingston, Jamaica. Colored for additional depth and flavor, it is a blend of over thirty rums (from both pot and column stills) that are aged in small heavily-charred American oak barrels for at least two years before high quality molasses is added to it. A Solera system is followed to ensure blending consistency over time.
In the early days, Jamaica was a natural hunting ground for entrepreneurs who wanted to bottle and market their own brands of rum. One such entrepreneur came from Basel, Switzerland by the name of Rudolf Waeckerlin. Waeckerlin traveled to Jamaica selling insecticide and became so enamored with the island rum that he subsequently went back home and started the company ‘Rum Coruba’, which translates to Compagnie Rhumiere Bale (‘Bale’ means Basel in French) in 1889.
A brief time later, Waeckerlin went back to Jamaica and started The Rum Company (Jamaica) Ltd. in 1929 in order to complete production process of the rum in Jamaica and subsequently launched their ‘Coruba’ and ‘Sugar Mill’ brands. These were sold, not only on the island, but imported to Europe in 1967, then to Canada, the South Pacific, the Far East and the Arabian Gulf. Since 1962 the marque has been produced by J. Wray & Nephew, with the latter acquiring The Rum Company (Jamaica) Ltd, a subsidiary of the Swiss Compagnie Rhumiere Bale (‘Rum Coruba’) in 1965.
Coruba was originally blended to suite local preferences in Jamaica with the blending and bottling for the whole of Europe still taking place in the Compagnie Rhumiere Bale in Switzerland, which has now become part of the Haecky Group. Now concerned mainly with export, Coruba Dark is distilled and imported from Jamaica, but is not distributed commercially in Jamaica. In December 2012, the J. Wray & Nephew Group Ltd was acquired by Gruppo Campari for US$409 million.
Spotlight Drink: Stephen Remsberg’s Planter’s Punch
Archsymbol of Caribbean hospitality, the Planter’s Punch has almost as many versions as there are bartenders. While there are very few absolutes in the world of drink-making, nothing exemplifies this better than the aforementioned drink. The so-called ‘Long Drink of Jamaica,’ there are literally hundreds of versions of the Planter’s Punch in existence, with references going back to the 1600s.
However, at a core level, there is really no definitive tell-all version of the drink, not least since punches themselves were some of the earliest cocktails made. In that sense, the Planter’s Punch recipe should serve only as a reference point – that is, to be tweaked according to the individual tastes and preferences of those who are making it; some kind of rum and fruit juice are basic to the punch, and it is often festooned with fresh fruit.
Most cocktails—whatever the name—are just slight variations of a few good standard recipes. The inventor just substitutes one flavoring for another, changes the proportions, or adds a dash of this or a drop or two of that, and gives the concoction another name.
While the drink itself started off life as a large-format punch drink mixed in the Caribbean, it wasn’t until the 1930s that Americans began to become aware of the drink; it wasn’t popularised until much later on. In fact, it is not known when the drink exclusively became a single-serving cocktail, or in indeed, when the name “Planter’s” was used.
World-renowned rum collector and spirits authority Stephen Remsberg has experimented with Planter’s Punch recipes for well over 25 years and has arrived at a recipe which he believes is ideal.
• 3 oz Coruba Dark
• 3/4 oz Lime Juice
• 1 oz Simple Syrup
• 3 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
Method: Pulse blend with 1 cup of crushed ice for 6-8 seconds. Add additional ice if needed. Garnish with multiple fresh mint sprigs, a cinnamon stick, and an edible orchid. Pour into a tall 12 oz glass.
If you can’t find Coruba, substitute another dark, full-bodied Jamaican mixing rum such as Appleton 12-Year or Myers’s Original Dark. The purpose here is to allow the rum itself to be the major flavoring ingredient in the drink. For the simple syrup, use equal parts (1:1) sugar and water, mixed until dissolved. Always use fresh squeezed lime juice and try to dash the bitters from the larger 16 oz bottle (preferably, half empty) as this gives you a slightly healthier dose; the dashes are smaller when a bottle is first opened, and larger toward the end.
NOTE: Coruba Dark is not intended to be sipped – it is exclusively a mixer, and a very funky one at that. Noted for its low price, incredible versatility, and predominant Jamaican funk, it is the preeminent go-to dark Jamaican mixer for many Tiki aficionados and mixologists alike.