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J Wray and Nephew

J. Wray and Nephew rum is a Jamaican icon. The brand dates back to 1825 when John Wray set up the Shakespeare Tavern in Kingston, Jamaica selling wines, liqueurs and of course rum. In 1860 Charles James Ward, Wray’s 22-year-old nephew, joined the business and was made partner in 1860 which is where the brand gets its current name from. John Wray retired in 1862 with Ward left at the helm. From running a tavern, the firm became a thriving rum merchant. At the London International Exhibition in 1862, J Wray and Nephew’s rum was awarded three gold medals. More awards and acclaim were received at various exhibitions throughout the world over the course of the 19th century.

The J. Wray and Nephew brand was acquired by Lindo Brothers & Co in 1916. Shortly after, they purchased the Appleton Estate rum distillery, Jamaica’s oldest producer. The firm remained in family hands, one of these family members was the grandfather of Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island records, and the man who helped turn Bob Markey into an international superstar. In 2014, Blackwell launched his own rum, naturally it was made by J. Wray and Since 1997, the head blender at both Appleton Estate and J. Wray and Nephew is Joy Spence.
Though nowadays the name is synonymous with its high ester overproof white rum, in the past J. Wray and Nephew has produced aged rums. Trader Vic’s original Mai Tai was made with J. Wray and Nephew’s 17 year old rum. This has since become such a legendary rum that an original bottle went at auction in 2007 for £26,000.

Today J. Wray and Nephew Overproof makes up to 90 per cent of the rum sold in Jamaica usually drunk in the form of a rum punch. The brand capitalises on the island’s musical heritage by sponsoring Jamaican music events all over the world including the Notting Hill Carnival in London.

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