19 February 2009

Carriacou Rum Report

Carriacou RumThis is the second installation of the Rum Report. Updates will be given from islands in the Caribbean that Sandpiper stops at that have distilleries. The last island we were at that distilled rum was Barbados.


The Grenadine Islands, which we just visited, receive most their rum from St Vincent, where we had not stopped. In Edward Hamilton’s Book ‘Rums of the Eastern Caribbean’ he wrote about his experiences with ‘Jack Iron Rum’ in Carriacou. Carriacou is a small island of 9000 people that is part of Grenada just 6 miles to the south from here. Ed gives a great write up about Jack Iron in his book. But as hard as we looked around the island we never found one bottle! Although Jack Iron is distilled in Trinidad, I have read it is not sold there. Instead it is shipped to Carriacou/Grenada in barrels where the islanders bottle the rum in their own shops and add whatever spices they have laying around.

Jack Iron Rum out of the barrel is 99% strong and even has warning labels to keep it away from open flames.
The only Jack Iron we could find in the town of Hillsborough that was labeled was not the original made in Trinidad, but a knockoff made in Grenada or at least bottled there. The bottles that we did see when we asked around in the local grocery stores were old Mt Gay Rum bottles that had been used before and now filled with what they told us was Jack Iron Rum. We declined on a purchase as when buying rum in a bottle where the bottles seal had been broken sounded a bit sketchy. And we had been told by one of the locals that the stores water it down to make a profit. So our search for the king of strong rums (Jack Iron) in Carriacou was a bit of a failure.

But as in the other islands, when in a bar, we just order an 8th of rum, ice, and water, just like the locals do and your bar tab ends up being quite cheap. On our first night in town on Amy’s birthday at the Lambi Queen Bar, it was full of cruisers who were ordering up expensive beers, gin & tonics, and rum & cokes. We ordered up what the locals at the bar were having... just the small bottle of Grenada rum, ice, and water for only 3 U.S. bucks! We were told by the waitress in a quite voice not to let the other ‘white folk’ know we were ordering this as it was for locals only. More so they can make their money off the white folk who are willing to pay. I have no idea how they can make a profit off the locals at this low of a price. Just the cost of Coke is more then the rum here. So if one hangs with the locals drinking only the rum and ice, it is cheaper then drinking just a Coke alone.
We might be fortunate in that we never found the real Jack Iron rum on our stop here in Carriacou as the below letter printed in Ed’s book;
Dear May and George Willy,
We have known each other for some time now, but I want to apologize for yesterday and last Thursday. As you know when I am sober, I am a polite, kind, generous person. But when I am drunk, I turn into a horrible animal. For the sake of my family as well as yourselves, please do not serve me Jack Iron Rum or any other strong rum. I am witnessing this letter with the police to show my sincerity.


Notes From Ron:
  • There is a "Tourist Version" of Iron Jack bottled by Westerhall on Grenada that is watered down to 140 proof to comply with airline regulations.
  • Iron Jack Rum is reputed to be the only booze in which ice will sink! Actually, ice will sink in anything over about 120 proof.
  • Iron Jack is made in Trinidad by Trinidad Distilleries, Ltd (TDL), which is owned by Bacardi, and bottled on Carriacou and Grenada. It is distilled in oak barrels.
  • Each rum shop and grocery store in Carriacou and Grenada may have it's own label, or none at all. Here are some sample labels (warning... the site has loud steel drum music). The cheaper stores simply use recycled bottles from from other spirits.

1 comment:

Sweet Kayak Sugar said...

You seem to have an uncivilized view of the people on this beautifully cultured Island. Comments such as..." where the islanders bottle the rum in their own shops and add whatever spices they have laying around”, sounds a bit ‘caveman’ like to me. “We declined on a purchase as when buying rum in a bottle where the bottles seal had been broken sounded a bit sketchy” (still don’t trust us hey!) And also…“I have no idea how they can make a profit off the locals at this low of a price. Just the cost of Coke is more than the rum here”. The Caribbean economy is messed up due to dealings of the past (please let’ not go there!).
The Notes from Ron etc. How misleading is the PR and marketing messages of the global community? Why does it sound like ‘Ron’ has rubbished the marketing banter of the locals? I’m sure if I visited a remote park of the US id raise a brow to their living behaviors’.
If you’d have come to Carriacou with me my Grandfather would ensure you had the best Jack going. Get connected, you’d be surprised at the real fun you’d have ‘white folk’ or not!