Imagine standing in the geographical center of the island of Jamaica, approximately forty miles by road to the north-west of it’s capital, Kingston and twenty-eight miles south of Ocho Rios, the major tourist center of Jamaica. You are 1, 200 feet above sea level, overlooking more than 10, 000 acres of lush foliage. Breathtaking valleys uniting the rolling mountain ranges that are standing guard over stalks of sugar cane swaying in the cool mountain breeze.
This is The Worthy Park Estate.
Nestled in the Vale of Lluidas, or Lluidas Vale as it is commonly known, the landscaped greenery that encompasses Worthy Park offers a glimpse into a different side of Jamaica. Located in the central parish of St. Catherine, far from the white sand beaches and palm trees, a visit to Worthy Park is a trip back in time to the days of unspoiled landscapes and natural beauty that had given rise to Jamaica being known as the “Land of wood and water”.
The Worthy Park Estate has remained this way since it’s inception in 1670. It was gifted to Lt. Francis Price for his services to Cromwell during the English capture of the island from the Spanish in 1655. It has expanded since then through the acquisition of neighboring properties.
Commercial production of cane and sugar began in 1720 and has continued unabated until this day. Since then it has only been under ownership by three families and has been in the hands of the Clarke family since 1918. In that time Worthy Park has not only engaged in cane farming and sugar production but the land has been used for beef cattle, citrus, poultry and other agricultural crops. However, there has been a consistent reduction in cultivation of other crops and livestock in favour of an increased cultivation of cane and sugar production.
Of the over 10, 000 acres of land approximately 40% of the land is currently in sugar cultivation. There are as many as 20 cane varieties growing however, most acreage is of the top three performers.
The sugar season in Jamaica lasts from January through the end of June. Since it is a 24-hour operation in season, the other months of the year are dedicated to a complete servicing of all of the equipment in the sugar factory.
While the traditional, and preferred, method of harvesting cane is by hand, for the past 20 years Worthy Park has also used combine cane harvesters to assist in the daily supply of cane to the sugar factory.
Our sugar factory has been rated #1 on the island for efficiency every year since 1968.
Approximately 210, 000 tonnes of cane is milled annually. Upwards of 90, 000 tonnes are supplied by Worthy Park with the supply supplemented by purchases from the local farmers. 2015 saw a record year with 246, 647 tonnes of cane milled.
The average annual sugar output of the factory is 24, 000 tonnes and 2015 saw us fall just shy of the 2014 record for output (27, 632 versus 27, 656).
All rum produced in the distillery needs molasses; and it goes without saying that all of our molasses used comes from our very own sugar factory. The average annual molasses production is between 7, 000-8, 000 tonnes; with 2015 also being a record year as we produced 8, 801 tonnes!
This molasses is then piped 2.5 miles away to the distillery.
Worthy Park has been producing rum intermittently since the 1740’s. There was an over supply of Jamaican Rum following World War II and under agreement with the Spirits Pool Association of Jamaica production was ceased in 1962.
Worthy Park was out of the rum business. Thankfully, only temporarily!
After being out of the distillation business for decades, the Clarke family decided in 2004 that there was room for another Jamaican rum, made with quality ingredients in a perfect contrast by distilling in the Traditional Jamaican Pot-Still method however with efficiency and state-of-the-art equipment helping us get there.
In 2005, the newest distillery was complete! By 2007, the flagship brand of Rum-Bar Rum was launched and has forever changed the Jamaican rum industry.