Produkte von A. H. Riise
A.H. Riise and the History of Rum
A.H. Riise, the Pharmacist
Albert Riise arrived on the island of Saint Thomas, which today is part of the US Virgin Islands. His initial venture into business in the island’s capital, Charlotte Amalie, involved setting up a what was called a ‘doctors stall’ in conjunction with several local doctors, though the word ‘doctor’ is used loosely as seldom were they qualified. One year later and in partnership with just one of the original doctors, Albert opened his own pharmacy, St. Thomas Pharmacy, at No. 6 Queen Street in Charlotte Amalie. One year later and Riise was able to buy out his partner and operate as a sole trader.
A natural businessman, Riise travelled as far and wide as New York in the United States, and Trinidad to source products and develop other business opportunities. Within a few years, the pharmacy on the small island of St Thomas was well-known throughout the Caribbean as being the place where you could buy just about anything you could possibly need for the household. However, these business exploits did not stop Albert from utilizing his main skills, those of a pharmacist.
The early connection between rum and A.H. Riise
Using local exotic plants and herbs, and others which he had brought back from his travels and had replanted, Riise began to manufacture pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and, of course, alcoholic products, but not, initially, alcohol for drinking as to him, alcohol was seen as also having strong medicinal and antiseptic properties.
Prior to producing rum as a standalone product, Albert produced what was called Riise’s Bay Rum, but once again this was not a drink. This was a scented water, or perfume, that would subsequently contribute considerably to Albert’s prosperity.
The early days of rum
Sugar cane was introduced to the Caribbean islands during the exploratory times of Christopher Columbus and other explorers, having first been discovered in Southern Asia and Micronesia, and then grown in the Canary Islands and Madeira after their colonization by the Spanish in the latter half of the fifteenth century.
With perfect growing conditions, the sugar cane thrived in the West Indies, and with the refining of the sugar cane to make sugar, one by-product of the process was molasses, a dark, treacle-like liquid, that was presumed to be useless. However, purely by accident, one day at one of the sugar refineries it was noticed that the discarded molasses had started to bubble up and release a gas. This was rightly identified as carbon dioxide, a gas released during the process of fermentation. It was discovered that through the combination of air-borne yeast and the sugar in the molasses, alcohol was produced, which could then be distilled into what became known as rum.
70% proof rum – Kill-devil!
However, this ‘rum’ was a distant cry from the drink as we know it today. It had an extremely high alcoholic content and a far-from-pleasant taste, to the point where it was given the nickname, ‘Kill-devil’, hardly surprising considering it was distilled at approximately 70% alcohol! With ships being an essential part of the sugar trade, it was no coincidence that ‘rum’ became heavily associated with sailors. For those coming from Europe, beer and wine stored on board to provide sailors with some form of respite from appalling living and working conditions soon turned sour in the tropical environment, so to avoid mutiny, beer and wine rations were replaced by rum.
A.H. Riise and Rum
Marketed as West Indies rum, Albert Riise subsequently had considerable success exporting it throughout far and wide, though especially to his homeland of Denmark, under the brand names of Old St. Croix Brand, Riise’s Guava rum, and A.H. Riise rum. As testament to the fact that his rum was some of the very best produced in the Caribbean, Riise was to be the recipient of many international awards. The first was given to him in 1888 at the Nordic exhibition in Copenhagen, which featured the best of art, industry and agriculture from the five principal Scandinavian countries. One outstanding award was given to the Riise Family in 1893 at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, held to mark the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus discovering America.
A.H. Riise – Personal life
They lived together as a family until 1868, when a combination of epidemics of cholera, smallpox and yellow fever saw them decide to move back to Denmark, originally for just one year. However, rather than returning to Saint Thomas, Albert Riise placed the pharmacy there in the hands of an assistant, who would later marry one of Riise’s daughters, and he bought a villa at Frederiksberg Allé, which he named St. Thomas.
During his time on Saint Thomas, Albert Riise also became the Director of the Bank of St Thomas, while later being appointed Knight of Dannebrog, Knight of the Swedish Order of Vasa, in 1868 for Council of Justice, and in 1878 for Etatsråd.
Albert Riise died in 1882 and is buried at Solbjerg Park Cemetery in Frederiksberg, on the western outskirts of inner Copenhagen. After his death, the pharmacy and production of rum were taken over by two of Albert’s sons, Valdemar and Karl Riise, and the business continued to flourish.