The Caribbean’s new rums

The Vancouver Sun just paid a visit to Barbados’s historic St. Nicholas Abbey in preparation for a piece on the emergence of a number of quality rum producers in the region. St. Nicholas Abbey, surrounded by copper-pot stills and oak barrels and the nose-ticklingly spicy aroma of the aged rum, is one of the new distilleries interested in “really providing an authentic product,” according to its owner, Larry Warren. “It’s the truest single-cask rum in the world.” Here are some excerpt from the Sun’s piece, followed by a link to the complete article.

When Warren bought the Jacobean manor a few years ago, it was on the verge of being turned into condos. Now, not only has the Bajan architect refurbished the home to its 17th-century grandeur, but he has also revived the old sugar plantation. He plans to work it the way it was done before modern mechanization — and that includes making rum from sugar canes harvested on his own land, then juiced, fermented, pot-stilled and aged. It will take a few years to become self-sufficient, of course, so until then St. Nicholas Abbey 10-year-old rum is being produced with the help of the highly regarded Foursquare Distillery.

“We’re trying to make it a sustainable business,” Warren says. “These products will ultimately sustain the lands. The sugar cane will sustain the lands.”

The cane will sustain a new type of tourism, too, attracting the sort of visitor who travels with tasting glass in hand.

Throughout the Caribbean, rum distilleries are flinging open their doors, inviting guests in for tastings of the beverage that has been so famously enjoyed by pirates, partying college kids and, more recently, discerning mixologists.

Unlike, say, cognac, rum has gotten little respect in the past, perhaps because it was so often used in fruity drinks garnished with paper umbrellas. That’s changing, thanks to a handful of Caribbean distilleries that are creating handcrafted spirits that appeal to sophisticated palates.

Barbados, considered the birthplace of rum, is the epicentre of this movement. In addition to St. Nicholas Abbey and Foursquare, there’s Mount Gilboa, the island’s oldest distillery, which produces a potstilled rum that has connoisseurs swooning, and Mount Gay, the most prestigious of the island’s big distilleries, which has begun work on its own potstilled rum. As Mount Gay’s master blender Allen Smith notes, “There’s a lot of interest in the complexity of these rums.”

But it’s not just Barbados that’s seeing a renaissance of great grog. There’s also Antigua’s English Harbour potstilled and oak-aged rums, the Dominican Republic’s prized Ron Barcelo and Bruguel Extra Viejo, Guyana’s El Dorado 15-year-old rums and Rhum Barbancourt, Haiti’s “rum agricole” made from sugar-cane juice instead of molasses.

For more information, visit the Barbados Tourism Authority at, and, for more on Caribbean rum, the very helpful Authentic Caribbean Rum site at

For the complete article go to

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