On-Site in Barbados: St. Nicholas Abbey and Rum
No visit to Barbados is complete without a stop by St. Nicholas Abbey. Us being us, though, our reasons for paying this authentic 17th century house a visit were a little different than most.
Sure, it’s worth the drive “down north” for a tour of this gorgeous residence built around 1658 of brick and limestone only 30 years after Barbados’ settlement by the British in 1627. Yes, you’ll have a chance to take in the intricate shellwork on the walls, the grandfather clock on the stairs, which has stood there for many decades and still shows the correct time, the taxidermied birds under glass, the complex chair in the study, the beautiful gardens on the property and the stunning structure itself. In fact, you may even find yourself echoing the sentiments of James Petri (nephew to Lt Col Stephen Cave of the Cave family of owners):
“I will never forget the first time I saw St Nicholas. We arrived after dark and the road wound up through mahogany plantations and lush vegetation. In the background the frogs were croaking merrily. My uncle had put on the floodlighting and suddenly we rounded the corner and there it was: the most stunningly beautiful building under the warm Caribbean night sky. I was completely overwhelmed.”
Yes, this is a spectacular, historic site. But, what really drew us there was the rum! In fine drinking establishments all over Barbados you’ll find St. Nicholas Abbey Rum in its distinctive, tapered rectangular bottle. One look at the bottle and you’ll notice they take great care in the production of each one. The intricate depiction of the property and palm trees is individually sandblasted onto the bottles by a tireless young woman right there on the property. Once she has properly illustrated the bottles, she then engraves them by hand with their bottle number and date of bottling. When you visit, definitely stop by her workshop, but don’t be dismayed if she doesn’t make small talk, the woman is busy after all!
OK, so the bottle is nice, but how about the golden brown rum inside? Well, that’s where things get really interesting. It’s a tale of two rums, actually. At the moment, inside these hand worked bottles you’ll find a 10 year single barrel rum crafted in the capable hands of the Foursquare Distillery. It’s a delicious, smooth-drinking premium liquor from one of the best distilleries on Barbados. Barrels of the stuff line the walls of the tasting room at St. Nicholas, but soon that’s all going to change. A little ways past the small building where the bottles are finished, you’ll find a large barn. Sheltered within is a brand new, state-of-the-art distillery which has recently begun crafting a new, truly St. Nicholas Abbey rum that will soon find its way into those special bottles. Will it be as delicious? Only time will tell. Unfortunately, we won’t get our chance to taste the finished product for 5 years or so.
Oh well, here’s to patience.