Harvest Season: Act 1 In The Richland Rum Making Process
This is our favorite time of year on the farm at Richland Estate and for good reason. The Autumn air is cool and pleasant (which the wild mustangs love), the colors are magnificent, and the sugarcane is hearty and ready for harvest. Although the exact dates fluctuate from year to year, we typically begin harvesting in mid to late November just prior to the first freeze. The farm is where our rum always begins, which is why we call this phase “Act 1” in a three act process that concludes when our rum departs its barrel and is bottled as the Single-Estate, Single-Batch, Single-Barrel masterpiece known as Richland Rum.
Hundreds of acres of sugarcane require ample labor and tedious maintenance throughout the year, but especially during harvest. It is during this part of the year that the agricultural aspects of our rum can be most appreciated. We will spend weeks in November and December cutting cane and husking the stalks by hand then loading them on flatbed trucks where they end up at the Richland Distillery to be pressed into juice then heated into pure sugar cane syrup, i.e. “Richland Almost Rum”. As we do this we will also take the time to prep and till the soil then plant harvested stalks into the ground. These stalks will become next year’s vintage, emerging as healthy new plants sometime in early Spring.
Our time consuming agricultural practices ensure two equally important results:
- That our rum is made to the absolute highest standards in quality, taste, and expectation.
- That the land we farm does not become depleted or over-used which would damage the local agronomy.
Both points help to define what we call “The Richland Standard”. We never cut corners, we never expedite any part of the process, and we are always thinking about the longer term picture and the impact that our rum-making can have locally and abroad.
Our farming practices are the foundation of our rum making process in general. It is amazing to think that those tiny buds of sugarcane that emerge in early Spring of each year will eventually become the delicious rum that you pour, swirl, sip and enjoy. From first sprout to first pour could be 8 years or more (depending on the particular Richland Rum Expression) so remember to take an extra moment to appreciate all the time that went into making that delicious liquid masterpiece. When you sip Richland Rum, know that you are enjoying an agricultural product as well as a distilled one. An agricultural product that has far-reaching positive effects for the people here in Richland and that has made a dynamic impact on our local, rural economy.