St. Nicholas Abbey, one of the 'Seven Wonders of Barbados', is an old Jacobean style mansion built in 1658 and is one of the three existing Jacobean mansions in the Western Hemisphere.
Surrounded by lush tropical forests and over 400 acres of sugar cane fields, the estate is situated in St. Peter, Cherry Tree Hill and has, since its restoration, become a popular tourist attraction.
In an effort to preserve a piece of history and to prevent the estate from becoming purely a tourist attraction, the Warren family has established a cottage industry of sugar-related products including St. Nicholas Abbey rum which is produced using traditional methods which were first used over 350 years ago on Barbados.
A Piece of History
As sugar was Britain's largest import from the Caribbean in the 18th Century, most of the plantations, including St. Nicholas Abbey, were producing sugar and molasses to meet the growing needs of the "Old World." In addition to these products, the plantation also produced distilled rum in the 1750s which was exported to Europe and America.
As the number of sugar and rum producing regions increased, it became significantly harder to maintain profitability of the business so St. Nicholas Abbey moved on to producing syrup at the plantation's mill until 1947, when processing became too expensive to sustain.
The original steam mill was sold for scrap in 1948 but was replaced with a similar 1890 steam mill in 1983 which remained unused until 2006 when the Warren family bought St. Nicholas Abbey and restored the plantation to its former splendour.
Though the distillery does not yet produce its own rum at the moment, due to the still house being under construction, St. Nicholas gets its rum specially prepared by the Foursquare Distillery and is able to produce around 4000 bottles of rum annually. Once the distillery is online the production is estimated to increase to around 20,000 bottles annually.
Architect Larry Warren will be personally involved in day to day rum production which is due to start in February 2009 under the guidance of Richard Seale of R.L. Seale and Foursquare Distillery who will advise him on the entire process from fermentation, distillation to ageing and blending.
"We feel there is an opportunity to blend our agricol rum with the rum we are currently ageing here at St. Nicholas early in the maturation process, and also after both rums have matured along with our rum on its own. This gives us many options to develop different and unique products which we will start to show at the next Rum Fest."Larry Warren
The cane, which is both cultivated and harvested by hand, is fed into the steam mill where it is crushed to extract the juice. It is then fermented before being distilled in customized pot stills using the traditional batch still process. The use of cane juice, rather than molasses, will make St. Nicholas Abbey the first distillery on Barbados to produce rum from fresh cane juice.
The current product, the 10 Year Old molasses based rum from Foursquare, is aged at 43% at The Abbey in new bourbon barrels for 10 years and hand-bottled straight from the cask, unblended, into one of the nicest decanters I've seen.
The bottle has an artistic etching of the Jacobean mansion and has been sealed with a distinguishing mahogany cork topped with hand embossed leather, an apt reference to the mahogany trees on the plantation. As a nice detail, the bottle number and the date of bottling has been hand engraved to the solid bottom of the bottle. This particular bottle, No. 2917, has been bottled on 26th of August 2008.
Looking at the handsome decanter it is obvious that the Warren family takes great pride in their product and having tasted this rum before, I can see why! I am very grateful for having received this opportunity to review St. Nicholas Abbey 10 Year Old Barbados Rum.
St. Abbey is amber in colour with long and thin, quickly dissolving tears.
Sweet, deep, robust bourbon aromas are foremost although not dominant. They allow a seductive creamy and buttered vanilla scent to waft its way into your nose where it lingers for a while. This is accompanied by honeyed caramel, almonds and underlying currents of roast coffee and if you are very lucky, you may detect an extremely delicate hint of pineapple.
The flavour is quite light on introduction followed by a great deal of wood, sweet bourbon and almonds, a sharp burn and some floral notes. Swirling it across the tongue reveals a minor earthy tone on the palate. The rum has a quite light and somewhat coating and oily mouth feel.
A long, warming and a floral finish combined with bourbon and vanilla notes.
St. Nicholas Abbey Barbados Rum could be said that it is a work in progress as plans have been made to age this rum further to 12, 15 and 20 years and I can say I am eager to try these rums, which will be sold under special reserve labels according to Larry Warren.
Though the 10 year old is a fine product now, it will certainly be very interesting to follow how the rum evolves over the years and how their sugar cane juice rum turns out. A complex and a lively expression from St. Nicholas Abbey you should try out if you have the chance. For more information about the history of St. Nicholas Abbey and its opening hours, visit their website at www.stnicholasabbey.com
Details at a Glance
Details at a Glance
Alcohol by mouthfeel: 9
What does Legacy Award mean?
It simply means this review was published before the website was updated and before the adoption of the new rating system. This review has now been converted to the new rating system. Under the original three award scoring system this rum received a Silver Award. Read more about the new rating system.
St. Nicholas Abbey Self Guided Tour
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