Versailles VSG 2002 El Dorado 12 Year Old
Established around 1670, the Diamond Estate is the only remaining rum distiller in Guyana. Located on the east bank of the Demerara river, the distillery is operated by Demerara Distillers Ltd (DDL), the company created by the government in Guyana as it attempted to consolidate the nation’s rum production. This began in 1974 and culminated with the closure of Uitvlugt in 1999. In 1976 DDL also began laying down stock to mature, intending to launch its own brands for the first time, introducing the first El Dorado 15 year old in 1992. Diamond blends El Dorado using distillate from various combinations of its rum-producing stills, which include the pair of two-column English coffey stills, installed there in the 1950s and a rarely used high-ester John Dore pot still. These operate alongside the “Heritage Stills” acquired from Uitvlugt, which are Uitvlugt’s own historic four-column French Savalle stills, the Versailles and Port Mourant wooden pot stills, and the Enmore wooden coffey still, the oldest and last of its kind in the world.
The close working relationship between DDL and Luca Gargano’s Velier in the 2000s significantly raised the profile of the distillery’s various historic stills, prompting them to introduce this premium El Dorado Rare Collection range in 2016. The range showcases small batch bottlings of its various cask marques, much as the esteemed Italian distributors had done in the decade prior.
This was distilled in 2002 on the Versailles single wooden pot still. It is constructed from Greenheart wood, which is native to Guyana and is mostly used in boat-building due to its ability to remain strong while constantly wet. The wood is also well suited to distilling, stripping spirit of sulphites in the same manner that copper does. The Versailles and Port Mourant double wooden pot still are the last of their kind still in operation. The Versailles still is so-called as it started life at the distillery of the same name. The still dates from the 1890s, and operated at Versailles until its closure in 1978. From there it moved to Enmore, which closed in 1993, and then to Diamond via a brief stint at Uitvlugt as well.