Rum and folklore have a habit of going hand in hand, whether through the well-established connection to pirates, or a focus on the supernatural.
In particular, Caribbean folklore has strong ties to rum and an example of this is with the Rolling Calf, a dreaded spirit that stalks through the night looking to destroy anything it comes into contact with.
A predator among predators
The Rolling Calf is classified as a duppy and even by duppy standards it’s dangerous. The ‘Rolling’ name refers to ‘roving’ or ‘rolling through town,’ as the beast has a habit of tearing through villages on its nightly hunt.
Like all duppies, the creature can shapeshift, but it’s most often seen in the form of a bull or goat with three hooves and a human leg. It has blazing red eyes, a foul stench and a chain around its neck that drags on the ground that signals its arrival.
The Rolling Calf is so feared throughout the Caribbean that legendary Maroon warriors used to tell stories of the creature to their children in order to test their bravery or keep them quiet. One example is as followed:
Dark tales of Maroon warriors,
fierce women and men
bush comrades of Cuchulain.
We swap duppy stories, dark night doings.
I show him the link of the rolling calf’s chain
And an old hige’s salt skin carcass
In Caribbean folklore, Rolling Calves are born from the souls of wicked people and can also be controlled by Obeah, spiritual priests and conjurers whose practices came from enslaved West Africans. Obeah can use Rolling Calves to torture those who they believe have done them wrong.
Despite its fearsome reputation, The Rolling Calf can be held at bay in a number of ways. One method is to flog it with a tarred whip with the left hand. Another method is to stick a double-bladed knife in the ground. But perhaps the most effective method is to utilise mirrors or any kind of reflecting surface to force the beast to see moonlight. The creature is terrified of the moon.
Rolling with rum
The legend of this dreaded duppy has been kept alive in the form of Rolling Calf Spiced Rum. A blended drink made of Trinidad and Barbados rums, the Rolling Calf carries notes of ginger, toffee apple and orange zest. It’s aged for three years in oak barrels and may contain the essence of an actual Rolling Calf for some extra kick.
Another rum that has been inspired by Caribbean folklore is La Diablesse. Find out more by reading The Rum Ration’s review.
5 thoughts on “Investigating The Story Of The Rolling Calf”
The rolling calf terrified me as a kid. My grandmother would scare me with stories about it so that I would go to bed on time or not stay out too late. For a good bit of my childhood I thought it was real, and even my teenage cousins would run home at night and tell me they were chased by a rolling calf, lol.
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I actually thought the rolling calf was from Jamaican folklore, not Caribbean in general. Thanks for opening my eyes. 🙂
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