Friday Happy Hour: Wray & Nephew – The Rum That Wards Off Evil
It’s been fun sharing tales of Caribbean spirits and haunted places this month, but I can certainly understand if some of you may be feeling a bit freaked out by now.
I, myself, was just checking keyholes around my house looking for any Soucouyant singe marks after finding a weird blemish on my neck this morning. I’m thinking it was just a mosquito, but you never know, right…?
Having created all this haunted hysteria, I think it’s only fair that I share the secret of what is perhaps the only sure-fire way to safeguard yourself from the various spooky creatures of West Indian folklore – Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum.
By far the most popular and best-selling rum in Jamaica, Wray & Nephew dates all the way back to 1825 when company founder John Wray opened The Shakespeare Tavern in Kingston. In 1860 Wray brought in his nephew, Charles James Ward, to run the business side of the company, thus the name Wray & Nephew.
Over the centuries, this stuff has become as ingrained in the Jamaican culture as any reggae song you’ve heard, any jerk chicken you’ve tasted, or any ska steps you’ve danced. I’ve read that Jamaicans prefer the white overproof over dark rums because there’s a sense that it’s somehow more pure, and therefore, better for their health. That belief certainly translates into sales as it’s estimated that Wray & Nephew accounts for 90% of all rum sold in Jamaica!
Some might find that stat hard to believe, but when you learn all the different ways that overproof rum is used by the locals, it makes perfect sense. For instance, it’s said that if you rub a bit of it on your head you won’t catch a cold. If you do happen to get sick, just mix it with honey and lime, and you’ll soon be cured. If you’re having a baby in Jamaica, be sure to have some close at hand as it’s often used to christen newborns. Overproof rum is even used to purify the dead before burial.
Honestly, this has got to be the world’s hardest working rum!
At 126-proof (63% alcohol by volume), it’s also damn strong, which makes it quite popular in frozen drinks, punches and other mixers.
Among the things that White Overproof Rum does not mix with, however, are duppies.
In Jamaica, ghosts, spirits and other supernatural beings are collectively referred to as duppies. Rolling Calf and Old Higue are two of the more notorious duppies that are said to haunt people at night all across Jamaica. To keep the duppies at bay, Jamaicans often sprinkle White Overproof rum over the foundations of new houses as their being built.
If you happen to be in an older home, though, you might as well just drink some of this stuff. After a few shots, you’ll be out so cold that even the loudest and most mischievous duppies won’t bother you.
Cheers and Happy Halloween!