The Thicket Rum Distillery was build in 1816 by William Carnochan, a Scottish immigrant from Savannah. The name “the Thicket” derived from the vegetation of myrtle and other short growing bushes on the 400 acre Colonial Plantation that was located close to Darien, Georgia. (In October of 1736 177 Scottish families established a settlement called Darien at the former Fort King George location. Darien is considered the oldest city in Georgia.)
William Carnochans investor and mentor for planting sugarcane in Georgia was Thomas Spalding, a wealthy planter of Sapelo Island. Spalding was the first to plant sugarcane in Georgia, and inspired others to invest in Georgia’s new sugar production as sugarcane imports were taxed. Carnochan followed Spalding’s advise and used the sturdy tabby as building material for the distillery… to stand the coastal storms. (Tabby is a type of concrete that is made by burning oyster shells to create lime which is then mixed with water, sand, ash and broken oyster shells.)
The Thicket Rum Distillery was the first known local plantation distillery in Georgia. The Rum Distillery was operated successfully on a commercial scale until 1824. Unfortunately, in September 1824 a strong hurricane hit the coast of Georgia and tragically one of William Carnochan’s slaves drowned while several buildings on the plantation were destroyed, including the distillery. A wall of water about six feet high swept across Sapelo Island and the tide rose over ten feet above the surface of the Georgia coastlands that day. Carnochan died a year after the tragedy at the age of 51 years and his distillery was never rebuild on the plantation. In 1836 the property was transferred to Charles Spalding, Thomas Spaldings son.
Today, only the tabby ruins remember of the Thicket Sugar Mill and Rum Distillery. The ruins are located in a private gated community on Tolomato Island.