Friday, February 3, 2012

DDL Factory Tour

I have to say was quite impressed about several aspects of this visit.
First off, Demerara Distilleries Limited have very reason to be proud that they are the ONLY  local remaining distillery in Guyana and the largest in the Caribbean. Stills from other estates, notably Enmore, Port Mourant and the last to close - Uitvlugt being moved to the Diamond Estate and their wooden frames being used to give a unique flavour to specially named Rums. Also very impressive to me was the recent installation of recycling procedures - namely the conversion of the effluent biowaste from the fermented molasses to methane/biogas used to fire the boilers - the Plant being right near the entrance.

Molasses being circulated in tank to mix well with yeast misture


 Large Tank where Molasses + yeast mixture produces the alcohol + Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

The other recycling procedure introduced  a way to capture the CO2 produced and used to carbonate the 'soft drinks'.
I should also point out that the rums are left to 'age' in re-used American Oak barrels as US Law only permits one-time use-- no doubt at the behest of the oak-barrel manufacturers - their loss/expense, our gain.
Model of the double Still from
 Port Mourant 
Interesting though that the Greenheart Vats/Stills are in continuous use for nearly 350yrs but for hygiene and other uses the oak barrels are discarded after less than ten years-- mmm- I guess the pure alcohol might disinfect the structure while being distilled into different factions?
 Model of the oldest working Wooden Still in the world- EHP  Coffery Still

So after fermentation, the alcohol is forced into the Stills and distilled off. The DDL website informs that back in 1670 each Sugar Estate had its own Still but with time they closed, DDL - the only distillery in Guyana ( Bank/DIH merely blends and bottles - doesn't produce!) sent to most notable/profitable ones from Enmore, Port Mourant and Uitvlugt( last one to close) to Diamond where they each produce a distinctive taste.

Also a major factor in the taste is the amount of aging - the taste being smoother and less harsh the longer it's aged.

DDL were a bit mean with the tasting -- remembering a trip to a distillery in Scotland where the guide was keen for us to try everything and generous. Here we got to taste a 6-yr old white rum which smelt and tasted like Ouzo, Then the famed EHP one- very smooth, I wanted to try the Port Mourant one but even an option to buy wasn't available -- there highlighting the limitness and stupidity that is Guyana. Most probably because of monitering the levels of the bottles - only limited stock was available - and also if a potential customer was interested then they would have to go across and down de road to the Sales Centre. surely in the 21st Century some system could be instituted to minimize internal losses?
Also, leaving a slightly sour taste in my mouth was the fact that I had to pay - in spite of being a Shareholder! Seeing that I went with two foreign visitors - the trip was on anyway and I was merely incidental to the whole thing - as it was I stopped the friendly barman from pouring as I am not much of a drinker but wanted to taste the products - in fact there were no Liqueurs available... and come to think of it -neither did we get to view its production. Clearly Guyana has not got to a point where Shareholders are thought of as being part of the Company but regarded as nuisances as reflected in the measly dividends when the Company reports record profits!
Interesting that in the Photo-Gallery - the first framed one was with the Chairman and Desmond Hoyte - who apparently got the epithet of 'Desmond Persaud' for enabling businesses during his reign, the 'Father of the Nation' Cheddi Jagan didn't feature nor did the recent ex-President Jagdeo responsible for the 'changing of the spots' move towards a more bourgeois, business-enabling environment but maybe it could be because Jagdeo made derogatory remarks about the said Chariman in the recent Past.
Talking of explosive, I wondered about Security issues of having nuff alcohol and old wood knocking about and could just imagine the light-up if a Taliban-type decided to end it all - as we weren't asked/checked for matches or lighters on arrival but then again-- we didn't exactly seem the nut-head type - maybe a sign asking for all inflammatory materials to be deposited-- does DDL know that use of Cell-Phones in a flammatory environment can spark off a Blaze? 

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