The innovation

The alchemy of rum

As you sit with a generous glass of A.H.Riise rum, you might not think too much about what lies behind the sweet, golden spirit. And nor should you; it’s all about enjoyment, and enjoyment is precisely what A.H.Riise rum is made for.

However, perhaps we can heighten your pleasure of this sublime drink by briefly describing some of the work that goes into creating the perfect rum.

A.H.Riise rum is a rum blend, composed of all that is wonderful, but also unexplained. The word alcohol has the same linguistic roots as the word alchemy, the art of making gold. Just as no one can explain how gold is created, it is also hard to get the precious rum barrels to divulge their secrets. The choice of what barrel the rum is aged in is crucial to ultimate quality. It is our trusty cellar master who chooses the barrels. He bases his choice on what the barrel contained previously, as well as the quality of the wood. The rum must sit in these barrels for many years, so the quality must be the best from the very start.

Rum is produced over the entire Caribbean area,and each island or country has its own special characteristics.

Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago as well as Guyana represent the British school. These are often cellar-distilled rums. The tastes are heavy, dark, spiced, lively and with an edge. The rum is vaguely familiar by its aroma, and you can almost feel the copper in the nose.

Guatemala, Nicaragua, Barbados, Panama and the Dominican Republic rums are lighter and sweeter, with distinct tones of tropical fruits, which come from the yeast strains they use there. Nothing is added, but the manufacturers work consciously with the distinctive aromas and tastes which yeast can provide.

When the master blender puts together his bouquet of rum, which will make it perfect, he must not merely consider the end product,but the entire route to be taken. The individual rums must complement, support and shape each other. A.H Riise’s cellar master must take the best from all worlds and ensure that the rum culminates in a perfectly balanced drink. When this is successful, we are left with a precious A.H.Riise rum.

The commercial aspect of A H Riise’s business is clearly demonstrated here with the inside of one of his wholesale storage facilities. Aside from the rum, which takes centre stage, closer inspection of the shelves will reveal the more pharmaceutical side of the business.

In 1895 the original Saint Thomas pharmacy burned down in a devastating fire. This is one of the first photographs taken of the newly rebuilt premises. To the left at the front you will see Valdemar Riise, Albert’s son. He and his brother, Karl, took over the running of the pharmacy upon the death of their father in 1882

Copy of original lithograph showing the interior of A H Riise’s first ‘druggist and apothecary’ premises, the pharmacy at Dronningensgade 6, Charlotte Amalie on the island of St. Thomas. As ide from the array of medicines and tinctures available, it is interesting to see from a social perspective that there was no racial or class discrimination on the island at that time.

Behind the warehouse

Behind the AH Riise warehouse in Charlotte Amalie. The iron tracks in the centre were part of the trolley cart system used for transporting goods both to and from the harbour.

Nordic Exhibition of Industry

AH Riise won a prestigious Gold Medal for an “Outstanding Product” at the Nordic Exhibition of Industry, Agriculture and Art, which was held in Copenhagen in 1888, and which was attended by over 1.3 million people. In celebration of AH Riise’s remarkable success, we have produced one of our most memorable and exclusive blends, the 1888 Gold Medal Edition Rum.

Original pharmaceutical exam certificate for AH Riise, dated 21st October 1832

Copy of one of the original advertising posters promoting A H Riise’s pharmacy, or ‘Druggist and Apothecary’ as it is called here. These posters would not have been purely for promotion on the island of Saint Thomas, but would have been posted on islands throughout the Caribbean.

Early lithograph dating back to the mid-19th century depicting the original A H Riise pharmacy on Queen Street, Charlotte Amelie, Saint Thomas.

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