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A Visit to Richland Rum

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A Visit to Richland Rum

Robbie Medwed

Earlier this week I got to take a trip down to Richland, Georgia, home of America's only single-estate rum distillery, Richland Rum. Located just over 2 hours southwest of Atlanta, Richland is a tiny town (only about 2,000 residents) that was once much, much larger. The distillery is currently located in about 5 buildings in the center of a tiny downtown that's just begging (and well on its way) for some incredible revitalization.

I would like to have just such a collection in my house.

Owner Erik Vonk explains the fermenting process and how the sugar cane is processed into juice.

Most rum is distilled from molasses, the byproduct that's created when sugar cane is processed into granulated sugar. Quite literally, molasses is, well, trash. (Tasty, tasty trash.) Richland is one of the few distilleries (about 97% use molasses) to use pure sugar cane juice instead of molasses to make their rum.

The aging barrels are stored throughout the buildings, which are original to the downtown.

Richland's two copper stills. They prefer to go the old fashioned, less efficient route because the final product is so much better. 

During our visit we got to tour the distillery, taste plenty of great rum, and my favorite part, visit the sugar cane fields on the Estate just a few miles away. We learned all about how the only ingredients that go into Richland's Rum are sugar cane juice from the estate and water from the Georgia Aquifer, which flows right under the distillery and estate. Everything that goes into a Richland bottle comes from within an 8-mile radius. That's pretty amazing.

Out here in the fields...

The Richland Estate sugar cane fields, a few weeks before the November harvest.

One of the most interesting things I learned while out on the farm is that sugar cane used to be a massive crop in south Georgia and lots of other Southern states. Sometime after 1800 the cost and the labor became too intense to maintain and farms switched over to cotton, which had two growing seasons in a year instead of just one. 

Sharecropping cotton fields on the left, Richland's sugar cane fields on the right.

The last part of the day was certainly one of the best: We got to enjoy Richland's Rum while surrounded by sugar cane plants. Everything that had gone into our glass was from right there. 

Richland's play on the Ti'Punch, the Ri'Punch, served under a bright blue sky and surrounded by sugar cane fields. This is a real photo I took!

Because they're a distilled product, Richland Rum is inherently kosher and does not need a  certification for year-round use. And, because they only use sugar cane juice and water, they could become certified kosher for Passover. I'll be working with them over the coming weeks to help them become hechshered for Passover. Imagine a kosher (and really, really great) Rum Old Fashioned before your seder!