Wilderness and heritage meet in Cockpit Country
If rum is your go-to poison, then this little profile of Cockpit Country in Jamaica is right up your alley. Home to some of the most popular rums known worldwide, read on to find out what makes Cockpit Country so special.
Cockpit Country lies in west-central Jamaica, which happens to be the third largest island in the Caribbean. Covered in lush forests, it is rich in flora, fauna and history. The limestone forests of Cockpit Country are home to some of the largest remaining natural evergreen rainforests and many rare and exotic species of birds and animals.
The origins of the name ‘cockpit’ is interesting. Many say it’s named so because limestone, the predominant soil in the area, does not retain water. Rainwater, therefore, penetrates through cracks and fissures, creating a landscape of pits and valleys that look like cockpits covered by trees. Some also say the name comes from the many cock fights that were organised by the natives, while others talk about a connection with cockpit in a nautical sense. We can never be too sure of the origin, but that’s what makes the region even more mysterious.
Cockpit Country is also home to about 70,000 people, including the Maroons of Jamaica, the descendants of the African slaves who escaped from their slave-masters and set up communities in the interior of the island. Most of Cockpit Country was used as a fortress for the Maroons of the 18th century, when attacks by the British forced ex-slaves to use the harsh terrain for guerilla warfare. Maroon communities still reside on the island, the most famous being the community at Accompong, St Elizabeth.
With the British firmly planting their stronghold in Jamaica, it was only a matter of time that they started to brew their potions too. Sugarcane was cultivated and Jamaica became one of the largest sugar producers, which in turn led to rum production in the 18th century. Even to this day, it is known to produce some of the best rums the world has tasted.
Wise Monkey owes its origins to one of the distilleries in Cockpit Country called Worthy Park. Brewed with molasses from their own sugarcane plantation in the valley with a tinge of madness from the Wise Monkey’s home in the mountains, the wisdom potion when imbibed takes you to a surreal world.