Contained in the Uitvlugt Sugar Manufacturing unit

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With out sugar cane, there isn’t a rum. Whereas some
rums are made straight from contemporary pressed sugar cane juice, the overwhelming
majority of rum comes from molasses, one of many outputs of sugar cane processing.
An especially simplified description of sugar cane processing is:

Enter: Sugar cane stalks
Output 1: Sugar crystals – The first output, historically.
Output 2: Molasses – A thick liquid with a number of varieties of sugar.
Output 3: Bagasse – Finely shredded cane stalk materials.

Sugar cane processing, Uitvlugt sugar manufacturing unit, Guyana

Whereas most tales about how rum start with molasses,
they overlook the basic agricultural processes that flip stalks of sugar
cane grass into darkish brown molasses.

What transpires in a sugar cane manufacturing unit is simply
as related to rum making as a whisky distillery’s milling and mashing grain is
to whiskey making. The important thing distinction: What whiskey distilleries do in-house
is usually performed elsewhere for rum. In both case, the tip end in both
case is fermentable sugars in a liquid answer.

Whereas it’s now comparatively simple for rum
vacationers to seek out themselves among the many stills at a distillery, alternatives to
go to operational sugar cane factories are far tougher to come back by. If in case you have
the prospect, do it with out hesitation!

Such was the case for me throughout a go to to
Guyana to see the services of Demerara Distillers Ltd, aka DDL. Whereas their
principal operations and distillery are on the Diamond Property close to Georgetown, the corporate nonetheless ages rum at its
Uitvlugt (pronounced “eye flot”) facility, which was the positioning of DDL’s second
distillery until 1999. Throughout my go to to the Uitvlugt getting older warehouse, I spied
the Uitvlugt sugar manufacturing unit subsequent door to the distillery. Fortunately, Shaun Caleb,
DDL’s Grasp Distiller made a telephone name, and as soon as we completed sampling rums
straight from the cask, we visited the sugar manufacturing unit.

Uitvlugt sugar manufacturing unit, as seen from Uitvlugt distillery

Though rum fanatics affiliate Uitvlugt
with the now defunct distillery, Uitvlugt is rather more than that. Within the Dutch
and British
colonial sugar property period
of the 18th and 19th centuries, Uitvlugt was a big sugar property alongside Guyana’s northern coast,
comprising about 4.6 sq. miles. Inside the unique property boundaries is the
village of Uitvlugt, present inhabitants of round 2,000 folks.

On the village’s edge is the Uitvlugt
sugar manufacturing unit, which began operations in 1871. In 1921 the Demerara
Firm acquired the property. In time, it got here underneath the umbrella of Jessels
Holdings, considered one of two giant holding corporations with vital property in British
Guiana. (Booker Bros., McConnell was the opposite.)  in January 1981, Uitvlugt property merged with the
adjoining Leonora property.

Uitvlugt can also be identified by an acronym: ICBU.  It refers to Ignatius Christian Bourda
Uitvlugt, an early proprietor of the property. Or maybe it’s Ignatius Charles Bourda
Uitvlugt. Or possibly it’s Isaac Christiany Boody/Uitvlugt. Out there sources are
fairly inconsistent.  The GuySuCo
website
says:

The Property is called after a Dutch Planter, Ignatius Charles Bourda Uitvlugt. In the course of the Dutch colonial interval, he was the unique proprietor of what was then a plantation. Lots of the older of us additionally used to confer with the village as ‘bodah’, which was actually meant to be Bourda: they might not have pronounced the title accurately.

Historically, sugar factories had an
related rum distillery. Uitvlugt is not any exception. When the distillery was
operational (up until 1999) its molasses come by way of a pipe from the adjoining
sugar manufacturing unit. Right now, a lot of the distillery is in ruins, aside from
the getting older
warehouse
.

Ruins of Uitvlugt sugar manufacturing unit, Guyana. Sugar manufacturing unit in background
Ruins of Uitvlugt sugar manufacturing unit, Guyana

As a part of a wave of presidency takeovers of
industries within the 1970s, each the nation’s rum and sugar industries got here underneath
authorities management. Whereas the federal government ultimately divested the rum trade  i.e. DDL, again to personal possession by the
early 1990s, Guyana’s sugar trade stays underneath authorities possession within the
type of the Guyana Sugar Company, aka GuySuCo.

Uitvlugt is considered one of a handful of sugar
factories owned by GuySuCo. Whereas the corporate’s website online lists 5 factories circa 2016, it seems that a few of them; Wales,
Skeldon and Enmore; have been closed since then. Guyana’s sugar trade has
been struggling to remain afloat for years. It was not so way back that Guyana
processed a lot sugar that it not solely was capable of provide all of DDL’s wants,
it additionally exported to quite a few rum-making international locations. Now, even DDL has to import
a few of its molasses from overseas sources.

The sugar manufacturing unit at Uitvlugt is surrounding by cane fields, as you possibly can see by zooming out within the map beneath. Nearly all of sugar cane fields within the nation or owned or leased by GuySuCo.

The GuySuCo website online has a succinct overview of Guyana’s cane farming:

The normal format of sugarcane fields in Guyana has required a guide system of reducing and loading cane. The guide operation has the benefit of being comparatively impartial of soil moisture standing but it surely does require giant numbers of cane cutters. All cane is burnt earlier than harvest. Cane is transported in small barges (punts) with a capability of 6-Eight tonnes cane that are towed in trains of 25-30 models by a 45 hp tractor. The principal issue with the punt transport system is haulage in moist climate when unsurfaced roads quickly turn out to be waterlogged and punts need to be hauled by paddle-tugs.

Though cane area burning isn’t
ecologically fascinating, on the subject of manually harvesting, it solves two
issues. First, it makes navigating the fields and reducing the cane fields
a lot simpler. Second, it chases out or kills the toxic snakes that reside
inside.

Upon arriving at Uitvlugt, the punts, crammed with reduce cane enter the manufacturing unit in an uncommon method. All the punt is tipped up, elevated, and tipped on its aspect, spilling the cane onto an entrance into the manufacturing unit. You possibly can see this occur within the video beneath.

The workings of a sugar manufacturing unit are each easy and sophisticated. I shall not try an in depth clarification right here. Nonetheless, a simplified model goes like this:

  • Reduce
    cane stalks into quick items
  • Crush
    the items between grooved rollers to squeeze out all of the juice
  • Warmth
    the cane juice evaporate water from it. This thickens the liquid and causes sucrose
    crystals to type
  • Mechanically
    extract the sucrose crystals from the thick liquid.
  • Elective:
    Repeat this boiling/extracting course of a number of occasions to extract extra sucrose crystals
  • The
    thick liquid left behind is molasses, which nonetheless comprises fermentable sugars

This video reveals key highlights of the method throughout the Uitvlugt manufacturing unit.

The photographs beneath additionally present elements of the method with further commentary.

Sugar cane punts arriving by way of canal to Uitvlugt sugar manufacturing unit, Guyana
Sugar cane in punts at Uitvlugt sugar manufacturing unit, Guyana

The sugar cane will be faraway from punts by the use of a crane. Nonetheless, its simpler to hoist the punts up, tilt them sideways, and let the cane fall into an adjoining hopper.

Emptying sugar cane punts right into a hopper at Uitvlugt sugar manufacturing unit, Guyana

After the cane stalks are roughly shredded, they’re fed via a collection of ridged rollers positioned very shut to one another. Because the cane passes via, the strain extracts the juice which is collected beneath.

This processes is repeated a number of occasions, with water added in subsequent passes to help in juice extraction. The bagasse (cane stalk materials) is collected elsewhere. After it dries, it may be burned to warmth the boilers.

Urgent cane via curler mills to extract juice; Uitvlugt sugar manufacturing unit, Guyana
Overview of cane crushing space at Uitvlugt sugar manufacturing unit, Guyana
Heated cane juice; Uitvlugt sugar manufacturing unit, Guyana
Evaporators scale back the quantity of water within the cane juice; Uitvlugt sugar manufacturing unit, Guyana
Rotating mud wash vacuum filter; Uitvlugt sugar manufacturing unit, Guyana

The top results of all of the processing is 2 issues: Sugar crystals and molasses. The sugar crystals are yellowish in coloration as a result of they nonetheless have a small quantity of molasses on them. That is generally generally known as “brown sugar”. If desired, additional therapy can take away the molasses to create white “desk” sugar.

Sugar crystals flowing down a ramp; Uitvlugt sugar manufacturing unit, Guyana
Molasses! Uitvlugt sugar manufacturing unit, Guyana
The boilers that make the steam used all through the manufacturing unit; Uitvlugt sugar manufacturing unit, Guyana

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