First appeared as “Rum For It!” in the March 2018 issue of Air Canada enRoute.
Rum is made on innumerable palm-fringed islands and along many sun-parched coastal plains – basically, anywhere you find sugar cane growing, you’ll likely find rum being made nearby. What makes rum supremely captivating – like terroir-driven wine or small-batch craft beer – is that it neatly manages to embottle the place where it’s made. (No, this is not a word. Yes, it should be.) Every rum island has its own history and set of traditions influencing flavour, like the yeasts and microbes of Jamaica or the composition of volcanic soil on Martinique. And Barbados is arguably the cradle of rum, the land from which every bottle on every back bar worldwide can trace its lineage.
This seems self-evident one warm and sunny morning when I arrive at St. Nicholas Abbey, set in Barbados’ hilly Scotland District. An impressive allée of mahogany trees leads to one of the greatest surviving Jacobean mansions in the western hemisphere, built in the 1650s and festooned with curved and scrolled gables.