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THE HAREWOOD RUM Sold on behalf of Lord Harewood's Charitable Settlement, to benefit the Geraldine Connor Foundation The story of the Harewood Rum begins in 1711, when Henry Lascelles, aged just 21, travelled from Yorkshire to the West Indies to pursue the family business of sugar, cotton, tobacco - and rum. This was a time when great fortunes were being made by many of Britain's great institutions - the Church, the Royal Family, banks, artistic and educational establishments – as well as individual families, all of it on the backs of the African slave labour that made the sugar trade so profitable. We now see the business he was in as an abhorrent one, but Henry was clearly a dynamic and sophisticated entrepreneur and within two decades he had become one of the richest men in England. In 1738 he and his oldest son Edwin (born in Barbados, educated at Cambridge and recently returned from his Grand Tour of Europe) acquired the estates of Harewood and Gawthorpe and in 1759 Edwin laid the foundation stone for "the new house at Gawthorpe", Harewood House. Henry was dead by then, killed by his own hand for reasons that are still a mystery. Edwin's relations with his long-suffering steward Samuel Popplewell were often volatile - Edwin was clearly a hard task-master with a keen eye on his budget – but, perhaps for that reason, Popplewell's record keeping was always exemplary, not just of the bills for the high value commissions of paintings and furniture (Harewood was the great Thomas Chippendale's biggest commission) but of everyday purchases of food, drink and other household supplies. Popplewell's successors were just as immaculate and the very first record of the Harewood Rum (described as Cane Spirit) is in a cellar book entry dated July 1805 which lists "226 bottles, dark and light 1780" stored in two bins in the cool, damp, vaulted cellars of Harewood House, Bin 9 for the dark, Bin 12 for the light. The bulk of the Lascelles' West Indian property in 1780 was in Barbados, including the estates that now belong to probably the best-known Bajan rum producer Mount Gay, and it is highly likely the Harewood Rum came from that island. The cellar records show large quantities of fine wines and spirits bought and consumed at that time and subsequently. Harewood House, like most other country houses, entertained lavishly and frequently, but surprisingly the rum was consumed quite sparingly: just one or two bottles a year, with the exception of one day in December 1805 when a startling eight bottles were drunk. By the start of the 20th century the rum seems to have been more or less forgotten, a drink that had gone out of fashion, the bottles still stored under the same bin numbers, but hidden away on a high shelf at the back of the cellar. That is where they were discovered by chance in 2011 by Mark Lascelles and Andy Langshaw, both wine trade professionals, while conducting an inventory of the cellar, the bottles almost invisible by now under a thick black coating of cobwebs and mould. At first they had no idea what they had found, but, after much speculation and research, they discovered this entry in the 1969 cellar book: Bin 9: Dark Rum, 28 bottles Bin 12: Light Rum, 31 bottles Both the location and the number of bottles matched and Mark and Andy realised they had stumbled on possibly the oldest rum in the world. Sample bottles were painstakingly cleaned and their contents tested, which established that the two styles are markedly different in colour and taste. Christies were consulted as to their commercial value and, after making a careful photographic record of the untouched bins, the bottles were painstakingly removed from their ancient cocoons of cobwebs and mould and taken on their first journey in more than two hundred years, from the cellars of Harewood House to the sales rooms of Christies in London. The short original corks (branded Oldfield’s of York) under the remains of heavy wax capsules, although still mostly sealing the bottles effectively, were deemed too fragile for possible future shipment and so each bottle now has a new tapered cork and plain re-waxed capsule, although a good deal of the original protective cellar mould has been left adhered to the bottles. Each bottle is packed in a plain wooden case with a neck label stating ‘The Harewood Rum – 1780. Removed from the cellars of Harewood House, Leeds’ and a stopper cork for future re-sealing. Alcoholic content of each bottle may vary as samples taken for analysis gave an average of 69.38% for the Light and 57.76% for the Dark. From the original stock of 59 bottles, over half were rejected for sale because of failed corks or very low levels resulting in only 23 bottles being considered suitable for recorking and sale at Christie’s. The proceeds from the sale of this unique and historic spirit will go to the Geraldine Connor Foundation, established to continue an inspirational teacher’s work with disenfranchised young people in the performing arts. Born in Britain, raised in Trinidad, Geraldine was a major figure in Yorkshire’s West Indian community, heavily involved in Carnival and the Steel Band movement, and creator of the legendary and spectacular piece of musical theatre, Carnival Messiah, last performed at Harewood in 2007, the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade.
The Harewood Rum 'Dark' 1780

1 bottle per lot
Details
The Harewood Rum 'Dark' 1780
Distilled in Barbados, shipped in barrel. Bottled at Harewood. Offered in original mould-blown bottles with replacement tapered corks and rewaxed capsules. Levels: all around top shoulder
Tasting note: Dark amber colour. Softer with intense aromas of spiced oranges, cedar and caramel. Concentrated and impressive, huge length. DE 12/10/13
1 bottle per lot
Sale Room Notice
Sold on behalf of Lord Harewood's Charitable Settlement to Benefit the Geraldine Connor Foundation

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Carolyn Holmes
Carolyn Holmes

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