Distilled on the Versailles still in 2004 at Diamond Distillery in Guyana. This rum was aged for 16 years in a continental climate before being bottled in 2020.
The Versailles still is one of the last surviving wooden vat stills in operation today. It was first installed in the early 1800s, and owing to the high cost of copper was constructed out of Guyanese Green Heart wood. Each batch takes approximately 12 hours to run, lending itself to a heavy and full flavour profile.
Bottled at 58.9% abv the profile of the rum is deep, dark and molasses heavy interspersed with green notes on the nose. In the mouth it has a smooth opening with some caramel before waves of unsweetened Guyanese rum cake and a dry and slightly woody finish. This is a big, bold rum overflowing with dense flavours, and definitely not for the uninitiated.
This rum was coloured with some caramel prior to being put into barrels. We use no flavour enhancing additives in the bottling of our rums.
Kanaima refers to the spirit of blood vengeance as well as those dedicated to it. When a person dies of foul play, a ritual is carried out in order to find the location of the perpetrator, the a close relative of the deceased is tasked with carrying out this act of vengeance. Inviting the spirit of Kanaima to possess their body through a ritual involving certain drugs or sometimes a particular tree, becoming themselves a Kanaima and imbued with the strength of a predatory animal, they set off from their settlements, sometimes not to be seen for months or years until the act has been carried out. Upon finding their victim, often poisons such as ‘wassi’ or those made from the ‘Urapa’ plant are used to subdue the victim whilst the fangs of a poisonous snake are used to prick their tongue, rendering them unable to speak. Once finally the victim dies and is buried, the Kanaima returns to the grave of the victim. The Kanaima thrusts a staff into the grave, pulling it out to drink the juices returned on it. This, whilst gruesome, is the only way to satisfy the vengeful spirit such that it leaves the body and the person can return back to their village. If the ritual is not completed, it sends the Kanaima mad, wandering the forest for the rest of its days. To this end the family of the Kanaima victim will try to hide the body or lace it with poison such that when the Kanaima drinks of it they themselves perish.
Kanaima can also be used to describe dangerous animals that attack people or wander too close to human settlements. Believing them to be possessed by Kanaima or a human spirit out for vengeance.
Historically the charge of Kanaima has often been levied against entire tribes, such as the Ackawaios, who had a reputation for stealth and assassination.
And, more broadly Kanaima is thought, by some, to have functioned as a system of justice, providing a powerful deterrent against potential crimes towards surrounding villages. The story accompanying the bottle is that of Anuanaitu and Maconoura, it demonstrates both the absolute commitment to carrying out this form of justice, even above the love they have for one and other, as well as the heavy consequences paid.