While on Barbados, we pay a visit to St. Nicholas Abbey where our entire crew is won over with a dose of history, tradition and an unbeatable small batch rum.
After our wonderful tour of Foursquare Distillery, it was time to head north along the gorgeous and unspoiled east coast of Barbados, past the many popular surf spots and rural towns, all the way to St. Nicholas Abbey. Perched in the soaring hills of St. Peter, this property was built in 1658 and has remained unchanged for more than 350 years. It is only one of three Jacobean mansions remaining in the Western Hemisphere and has been lovingly restored by owner/architect/distiller, Larry Warren.
Now, a property as beautiful as St. Nicholas Abbey is worth a visit just to check out the architecture and learn about its history, but it just so happens that this historic plantation has an added draw that seriously caught our attention – a small rum distillery!
The Abbey is situated in the middle of hundreds of acres of sugarcane, so after several years of making and selling artisan food products on site, they decided to put the cane to good use and get into the rum business.
Their first bottling hit the local and European markets several years ago and was produced exclusively for the plantation by Richard Seale. It was aged in oak casks at 65% abv for 8 years, batched and re-barreled at 40% abv and then aged for another 2 years at the Abbey. It’s a truly wonderful rum.
Last year they finished construction and assembly of their very own on-site micro-distillery complete with a beautiful Arnold Holstein still that came directly from Germany. Their signature rum is being produced with their own cane juice and aged, blended and bottled in the same traditional manner that has been used on the island for hundreds of years. We had a taste of some of the very first samples to come off the still and this rum is going to be a huge hit.
Like most things at St. Nicholas Abbey, packaging is done by hand and with extreme care. Rum is poured straight from the barrel into a one-of-a-kind bottle with an etched image of the Abbey proudly displayed on the side. Bottles are topped with a mahogany cork and each is numbered and dated. If you’re lucky enough to purchase one on site, they will happily etch a message of your choice onto it at no extra charge. Ours reads “Bottled especially for Rum Connection” and is among the most prized pieces in our collection.
Our tour of St. Nicholas Abbey was completely inspiring. The grounds are park-like, serene and maintained to perfection and the Abbey is a charming example of an architectural style and craftsmanship from era long gone. Most importantly, the distillery is beautifully designed, almost sculptural in quality, and is pumping out small batches of amazing rum. Everything here is done with the highest attention to detail and we applaud the Warren family for creating a wonderful island attraction as well as presenting a lovely artisan rum to the marketplace.
Next time you find yourself in beautiful Barbados, be sure to make your way to St. Nicholas Abbey for a look at history, tradition and a sip of genuinely wonderful Bajan rum.
Stay tuned for more coverage from Barbados. Next up, a look at the island’s legendary rum shop culture. Cheers!