St Nicholas Abbey and Rum: On-Site in Barbados
No visit to Barbados is complete without a stop at 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, historic residence. (The Abbey was built around 1658 of brick and limestone only 30 years after Barbados’ settlement by the British in 1627.)
St Nicholas Abbey Charms
Yes, you’ll have a chance to take in the intricate shellwork on the walls.
You’ll marvel at the grandfather clock on the stairs. It has stood there for many decades and still shows the correct time.
The taxidermied birds under glass are another curiosity.
A complex chair in the study, beautiful gardens, the stunning structure itself – it’s all worth seeing.
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. The thing that really drew us here, though, was the rum!
Bespoken Rum Bottles
Fine drinking establishments all over Barbados carry St Nicholas Abbey Rum. Its distinctive, tapered rectangular bottle is conspicuous on top shelves.
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 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. Don’t be dismayed, though, if she doesn’t make small talk, the woman is very 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.
A Tale of two Rums
During our visit in 2010, these hand worked bottles contained a 10-year single barrel rum crafted at the Foursquare Distillery. It’s a delicious, smooth-drinking premium liquor from one of the best distilleries on Barbados. Barrels of the stuff lined the walls of the tasting room at St Nicholas at the time we were there. Soon, though, 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 five years or so.
Oh well, here’s to patience.