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Canada N.S. distillery sending barrels of rum on globe-spanning trip with aim of better aging

Barrels of rum from Ironworks Distillery rest before being loaded on a tall ship in this undated handout photo.

HO, Ironworks Distillery/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A Nova Scotia distillery is sending its spirits on an around-the-world trip on a tall ship, promising it will taste better for the journey.

Four barrels of rum from Lunenburg's Ironworks Distillery will spend the next 15 months in the cargo hold of the three-masted tall vessel Picton Castle.

The Lunenburg-based ship is best known for its adventurous sail training voyages, and "this will be their 7th and last complete around-the-world circle," said Ironworks co-owner Lynne MacKay.

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They decided to mark its final around-the-world trip with rum that will be bottled upon return in May, 2019, as 'Round the World Rum.

The tall ship had been scheduled to set sail out of Lunenburg on Monday, but the sailing was postponed until Tuesday or Wednesday.

Ms. MacKay said Captain Daniel Moreland is keeping the rum secure in the hold, under lock and key.

"Everybody's making jokes: 'You're sending rum barrels to sea and your expect them to come back whole, that's a joke!' But they're pretty well secured. We sent it out under the auspices of Excise Canada and all of those customs things so that what goes out will come back, and we have faith that it will," she said.

Ms. MacKay said the other main comment is "Why?"

"Aside from the sheer sexiness of the idea, there is theory and chemistry that supports the fact that rum at sea ages better. The movement of the ocean changes the nature of the aging process. The movement of the spirit in the oak actually makes it a more complex and interesting spirit when it arrives back on land," she said.

It's part of rum history: In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, when Caribbean rum was shipped to Britain and other points, people noticed the spirit was much better at the end of the voyage than when it started.

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Some of the Picton Castle rum has already been aging in Hungarian oak barrels for a few years.

"We're anticipating this one will come back kind of a medium amber colour, and we're not going to be fussing with that colour at all. We want it exactly the way it comes out," she said.

Ms. MacKay said the lengthy voyage gives them more than a year to promote the rum and the programs offered by the Picton Castle to train people how to sail such large ships.

Some of the proceeds from the rum will go to support the Picton Castle programs.

Ms. MacKay said a lot of people have asked to get their name on a list to be able to buy the 'Round the World rum, but said they won't consider a list until some time next year.

Links to the voyage will be posted on the distillery's website and social-media sites.

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