04 April 2009

St. Lucia Rum Report

Bounty RumThis is the forth installation of the Rum Report. Updates will be given from islands in the Caribbean Sandpiper stops at that have distilleries.

During our stay in St Lucia ‘Team Sandpiper’, along with Cap’n Chris from S/V Christa, Mom Sherman, and Dr. Bob piled in a taxi-van and headed south to St. Lucia Distillers Limited. This distillery has been in business since 1972 and produces 30 different liquors. Sugar cane used to be grown in St. Lucia to supply the distillery until the sugar prices crashed and St. Lucia changed its agricultural base from sugar to bananas. Raw molasses is now imported from Guyana in South America in bulk where it is poured into open concrete tanks to ferment for a week. It is then piped into a large copper continuous distillation column where the alcohol is extracted. The ‘rum’ is then either bottled directly or aged in oak barrels. Like other distilleries around the Caribbean these oak barrels are imported from the U.S. because U.S. law only allows bourbon distilleries to use their barrels once.

The tour of St. Lucia Distilleries was interesting and the tasting room was just a long table where we were told to drink as much as we wanted from the 30 bottles laying around. Our cab driver seemed to drink out of all thirty bottles before jumping back in his van, stating he was ready to drive us back.

St. Lucia Distilleries makes all kinds of different liquors such as strong rums, blended rums, coffee and peanut flavored liquors, and a rotgut wine that is much like Mad Dog 20/20. The most popular white rum is know locally as Denros Strong Rum. Its one of the strongest rums in the islands at 160 proof! It’s good rum to use in a rum punch as one bottle lasts forever. The best selling rum they produce is Bounty Rum that is a blended rum and caramel in color. There top of the line rum is Admiral Rodney Extra Old Rum that is aged in oak barrels. This rum was a gold medal winner at Rum Expo 2001. This was not available at the tasting table, but we were able to snag a bottle from the gift shop before we departed.

St. Lucia Distillers is the only distillery on the island. But wondering around the town market in Castries, many of the venders sell their own home made Spice Rum. This Spice Rum is white over proof rum that is added to an old bottle that they fill with all kinds of different fruits, spices, barks, tree branches, and whatever else is laying around. They also sell the bottles empty with the spices in the bottle. So all you have to do is add your favorite rum when you get home. Many venders sell over proof white rum in used bottles. But we are a bit wary to try this rum as we have no idea what is really in these bottles.
Stay tuned for the next issue of the ‘Rum Report’!!!

Note From Ron: I've discovered that their Admiral Rodney Rum was named after British Navy Admiral George Rodney. He was based in St. Lucia and is best known for defeating the French Navy at the Battle of the Saintes in 1782 during the American Revolution. The French were supporting the American rebels against the British. This battle, which took place in this part of the Caribbean, was an effort by the British to push the French out of the Caribbean and keep islands like Jamaica from falling into French or Spanish hands.

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