Your alarm goes off at 5:30 am. Before long, you’re at the airport. Here you lament what’s become of air travel before hopping a flight. A few hours later, back on terra firma, you descend wobbly metal stairs from your plane into a warm and amazingly bright St. Lucia afternoon. The heat coming off the tarmac makes everything a little wiggly as you make your way to the terminal. It just smells like the Caribbean.
Once inside, you breeze through customs, then get a warm “good afternoon” and smile from your rental car agent. She leads you out to the parking lot, shows you the Jeep Wrangler that will act as your trusty transport for the next few days, and you’re off. A short, winding drive later and you’re at the quaint little Stonefield Estate Villa Resort nestled deep in the rainforest just below the picturesque Pitons. They show you to your secluded villa and take you through the amenities which include an outdoor shower, mango tree heavy with fruit, a gorgeous view of the Caribbean Sea beyond thick rainforest, and a plunge pool large enough to swim laps in.
Once they leave, you’re alone in paradise with only the sound of leaves lazily rustling and small exotic birds sweetly singing.
What do you do?
If you’re anything like us (and I feel like I can speak for Stephen in this) you head straight out to the nearest bar for a glass of rum!
On our last trip to St. Lucia, the nearest bar was conveniently located right on the property. The Mango Tree Restaurant was just a short walk from our villa’s door. Once we’d installed ourselves at the well-shaded, small wooden bar and said our good afternoons, we got to perusing the liquor selection looking for something new to try. Sitting quietly between a bright white bottle of Malibu Rum and an ostentatious bottle of E&J Brandy was a squat, unassuming bottle we weren’t familiar with.
Not taking my eyes off the bottle, I asked the bartender what his favorite local rum was. He quickly replied with an infectious smile – “It’s got to be Chairman’s, man.” – and grabbed the bottle I had been eyeing. “It’s what all the young people drink.” I refocused on him asking for clarification. “It’s still pretty new. All the older people drink Bounty, but if you go to a party now with young people, it’s got to be Chairman’s.”
“Hey, I’m a young guy! Let’s give it a try.”
Oh yes. This is good stuff. I’ll let the Ministry of Rum tell it:
born as a blend of aged John Dore and Kentucky Vendome pot still rums and column still rum finished in used barrels to allow the rich, dark, dried fruit, pecan and brown spice flavors in the body to marry. The second casking in newer, used barrels gives the final blend a slightly dry, smoky finish.
It’s no wonder Chairman’s Reserve has won so many awards, including a gold medal in the 2008 International Wine & Spirit Competition and a Double Gold Medal (Double!) at the 2008 San Francisco World’s Spirit Competition.
Lost in my glass of Chairman’s I almost didn’t hear the bartender when he asked if I knew how it had gotten its name. I hadn’t. “Well, when they were crafting the blend and tasting a bunch of options, they thought they had the right mix so they set out a bunch of glasses of the rum for everyone to taste. Everyone took their glass and tried it, but the chairman wasn’t there. So one glass was left. They said this glass of rum was reserved for the chairman… And that’s how it got its name!”
I eyed him suspiciously for a moment before realizing it didn’t matter how Chairman’s got its name. All that mattered was that there was more to refill my glass.