How A Walk At The Farm Lead To The “Presidential Reserve Commemorative Selection”
In 1999, not long after Erik and Karin had planted their first stalks of sugarcane that was to become Richland Rum, they received a special guest to their farm. Their visitor walked with a steady and stoic stride as he gazed across the southern vista with an intelligent eye for all that the terrain possessed. He’d grown up in the area, and he knew everything there was to know- about the history, about the people, about the land. As he walked and talked he stumbled upon a Native American arrowhead that he figured to be about 5000-6000 years old. This arrowhead was the first of dozens that Erik and Karin have found since, but that first one will always be the most special, especially since it was discovered by the 39th President of the United States.
Jimmy Carter grew up within shouting distance of Richland in the town of Plains, Georgia. Sure, most know him for his presidency, but here in Richland we know him as a fellow Georgian, a farmer, a friend. Since that first introduction, President Carter and his wife Rosalynn have been supportive patrons of Richland Rum and have frequently visited the Distillery to see that all is well. As farmers themselves, they appreciate the agricultural aspect of the Richland Rum-Making process and the jobs that it creates for local farmers. As he learned more about Richland Rum, President Carter also developed a keen interest in the distilling aspect of the company, and learned to appreciate the artistry of the process through conversations with Erik and Roger Zimmerman, our Richland Master Distiller.
One day, on December 26, 2015, Mr. and Mrs. Carter brought their entire family to tour the Distillery, five generations of Carters. At that moment, it was decided that the rum being distilled that day would be set aside to become the “Presidential Reserve Barrel.” In the next few years the Carters continued to visit and check on their Rum as it aged in the Richland Barrel House. Erik, Roger, and President Carter periodically sampled the barrel to assess it’s aroma and flavor profile, and to let the barrel decide when it was ready to be bottled. In May of 2019, Mr. and Mrs. Carter joined us at the Distillery for a special ceremony and bottling of the “Richland Rum Presidential Reserve Commemorative Selection.”
The Presidential Reserve Commemorative Selection was donated to The Carter Center in Atlanta, Ga. The Carter Center was founded on the ideals that President Carter has always lived by, which is a “fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering, and to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health”(*). Over the years, our team here in Richland has gained valuable wisdom and insight from President Carter, and have seen first hand these ideals put into action by the man himself. It is an honor that the Presidential Reserve Commemorative Selection has been able to help further the cause and support the phenomenal work being done at The Carter Center.
James Earl Carter Jr, 39th President of the United States, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, a Naval Academy graduate, a farmer, a friend, a father, a husband, a truly thoughtful human being.
And oh, by the way, that arrowhead he discovered, it is still the best one ever found on the farm.
*The Carter Center Mission Statement:
“We have become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.”
― Jimmy Carter