Sun | Sep 22, 2019

Flavours of the Past exciting today’s palates

Published:Thursday | September 5, 2019 | 4:22 PMPaul H. Williams - Gleaner Writer
Stredie Thompson (left), managing director at Journeys End Wine Company Limited, makers of Flavours of the Past, looks on as a patron is about to sample a 'flavour of the past' at a recent event in downtown Kingston.
Stredie Thompson (left), managing director at Journeys End Wine Company Limited, makers of Flavours of the Past, looks on as a patron is about to sample a 'flavour of the past' at a recent event in downtown Kingston.

“Proud to represent the brand of Jamaica, we aim to continue to serve exotic flavoured wines made from locally grown fruits right here in Jamaica,” is a statement made on a brochure being distributed by Journeys End Wine Company Limited, located at 121 Duke Street in Kingston.

Under the brandname, Flavours of the Past, Journeys End, says it is producing “real Jamaican wine perfectly handcrafted for you”. And recently, The Gleaner chanced upon the family-run business while it was carrying out samplings at an event in downtown Kingston.

People were lining up to taste its ackee, ginger, honey orange, noni, passion fruit, pimento berry, pineapple, sorrel, soursop and sugar cane wines. The favourable comments that tasters, some of whom did multiple samplings, were making, led our team to try and discover what was causing all of the excitement. Taste buds it seemed, were really being titillated.

A few days after the mini-binge, The Gleaner, went to find out more about these flavours that have seeped in from the past into the throats of the present. As the brand name implies, the wines go back to the days when people would ferment and make their own fruit wines in their own spaces. Those were the days when most people had no access to expensive imported and locally made liquors.

As other wines became available, the making of fruit wines in the cottage industry gradually declined. Yet, over the past decade or so, there has been a resurgence of the industry that makes fruit wines. And Journeys End is claiming that it is “offering exotic wines you won’t find anywhere else”. Why so?

"To our standards and the public expressions that we’ve always faced, the wines are better in taste, look and feel, compared to other local wine manufacturers", whereas the brand name, Flavours of the Past, these are flavours that you would have enjoyed in [olden] days,” said Matthew Thompson, the general manager at Journeys End.

The alcoholic wines are the product of naturally fermented juices. They are “not grape-based”, “non-alcohol-added” and have a long shell life. For two to three months, they go through a process of fermentation after which they sit for another month or two in the cold room, where they are cleaned and checked. The entire process lasts from five to six months before bottling takes place.

The wines are sold in 750-ml and 150-ml bottles. There is also the ‘assorted special’ or ‘combo’ package, comprising four 150-ml bottles. “Our aim with Flavours of the Past is for it to be of such a high standard … that it is called the Jamaican wine,” Thompson said.

The flavours are available in several parts of the island, and there are requests from overseas which the company intends to grant. It also wants to add other flavours from the past to its future array.