December 5, 2023


Time to travel

St. Kitts 2023 travel guide

As far more of a connoisseur of fine spirits than great wines, I was intrigued to study I could come to be a “rummelier” in St. Kitts.

The Caribbean island lately released its Kittitian RumMaster method, which features specialist-led sensible and theoretical programs at two distilleries. In the one particular-working day tour, you are going to much better comprehend the sophisticated record of the spirit, make your individual spiced rum and examine the science of mixing rum-primarily based cocktails.

My day commences at Wingfield Estate, website of the Caribbean’s oldest surviving rum distillery and home of the not too long ago released Old Street Rum Business. Less than the heat of the mid-early morning sun, I wander the lush grounds though my tour guidebook points out notable attributes, which include the historical ruins of the excavated distillery and sugar plantation.

“This would have been the sugar mill the place the sugar cane stalks ended up squeezed to extract the juice from the plant. And that steam boiler would have crystallized the sugar,” claims Bon Jovi. (Certainly, which is his real name.)

Standing by a towering stone chimney, which was presumably the giveaway that a distillery existed on this internet site, Jovi reveals that the Widdowson loved ones purchased the estate in the 1970s, when it was nonetheless lined in overgrowth from a neighbouring forest reserve.

In 2013, with the aid of archeologists, the relatives uncovered they have been sitting down on a historic distillery. Archeologists have because established that rum was manufactured in this article as early as 1681, creating Wingfield the oldest intact distillery in the Caribbean. This estate was when owned by Christopher Jeaffreson, an ancestor of former U.S. president Thomas Jefferson.

The output of rum is deeply linked to the background that has shaped the two-island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

The household of the to start with British and French colonies in the Caribbean, St. Kitts has a challenging record, rooted in slavery. When Christopher Columbus sailed to St. Kitts in 1493 — which was then inhabited by the Carib people — he named it St. Christopher, which was shortened to St. Kitt’s by English settlers, who recognized a colony on the island’s west coastline. The French proven their individual colony in 1627. Divided involving the French and English in the 17th century, the island was supplied to Britain St. Kitts and Nevis attained independence only in 1983.

The Brimstone Hill Fortress, begun in 1690, is a landmark from St. Kitts' colonial era.

This colonization introduced brutality, together with the genocide of the Indigenous Caribs and the importation of African slaves, tens of millions of whom didn’t endure the treacherous transatlantic journey. People who did had been forced to establish up the island for the benefit of colonizers, which integrated clearing tobacco and rainforests to make way for sugar cane.

By 1775, with 200 estates and 68 sugar plantations developing the “white gold,” St. Kitts turned recognised as Sugar Metropolis, and was 1 of the wealthiest British colonies at the time. The considerable sugar manufacturing led to ample rum output.

“You couldn’t walk any place devoid of viewing a sugar plantation when I was kid,” says Aged Street Rum founder Jack Widdowson. But the island’s previous sugar cane manufacturing facility closed in 2005, right after St. Kitts could no extended compete with world wide producers, and this, in flip, forced the island’s the moment-bountiful rum creation to fold.

Widdowson lived in Toronto and Nova Scotia for 14 many years to attend college and get the job done right before shifting residence to convey the excavated distillery back to lifetime. “When I realized what we were being sitting down on in terms of (the distillery’s) historical value, I preferred to do something with that history,” states Widdowson, who has been at the forefront of a movement to honour the island’s earlier by bringing rum generation back to St. Kitts.

Jack Widdowson of Old Road Rum is at the forefront of the island's rum revivalist movement.

In 2019, he launched Outdated Road Rum, which is at this time created from imported batch rum (he won’t disclose from wherever), aged for 12 yrs in previous bourbon casks, and then blended and bottled. As a long-time period ambition, he’s working towards distilling rum and replanting sugar cane on the grounds.

Roger Brisbane is also component of this revivalist movement to bring rum back. His distillery, Spice Mill Restaurant, is the 2nd halt in the Kittitian RumMaster software. Brisbane created Hibiscus Spirits, a spiced rum infused with locally grown roselle hibiscus. Also termed sorrel, it’s widely consumed in the Caribbean.

At his beautiful beachfront distillery, my fellow rum-masters-in-the-making and I blend cloves, vanilla and other substances to make several flavour profiles as Brisbane guides us by the methodology of infusing spices and herbs into spirits. Immediately after producing and bottling our have signature spiced rum to consider household, we shake up colourful coconut rum cocktails.

Of class, you never require to enrol in a course to knowledge rum on St. Kitts. At the Four Seasons Resort Nevis, mixologist Kendie Williams generously pours tastings of notable international manufacturers like El Dorado and Zacapa, along with Brinley Gold Shipwreck. You can also sample the hotel’s have (and incredibly scarce) Crowned Monkey Rum — only one barrel of it was generated.

The Timothy Hill Overlook offers one of St. Kitts' iconic views.

No matter what you do, make time for the lively Sunshine’s Beach front Bar & Grill, which has served up its famous Killer Bee rum punch for 30 many years in Nevis. The cocktail will come with a warning from just about every nearby: be thorough. I take one particular sip of my Toddler Bee (I asked for a small serving) and comprehend why — two of these toddlers and I’d undoubtedly be underneath the desk.

The partitions are plastered with shots of those people who have survived this killer cocktail, such as Justin Trudeau, Beyoncé and Jay Z, and Magic Johnson.

The bar’s owner, Sunshine Caines, who embodies his name, emerges from a spirited table of teetotallers to greet me with a big, bright smile. Aside from divulging that he employs Aged Street Rum in his Killer Bees, he will not reveal what tends to make it so potent.

It’s a comprehensive-circle second for Caines, who labored on the sugar plantations as a little one, an arduous knowledge. “It taught me that hard function can deliver good results,” he claims. “Not (good results) like Jeff Bezos but success in existence, and I’ve made use of that good results to share what this island presents: pleasure and kindness. To me, sharing that is what would make you prosperous.”

I’ll consume to that. Not only does the island share joy and kindness, but it’s also suffused with a resolve to honour the previous by bringing its heritage into its potential.

How to grow to be a “rummelier”

The Kittitian RumMaster software is a three-hour tour, $150 (U.S.) per person, supplied weekly (Wednesdays). Soon after you’re tutored in rum custom and method at the two distilleries, you will receive a certificate of completion. To indication up, check out “The Joys of Rum” on To come to be a fully certified rummelier, you can indicator up for a plan with the Royal Rum Culture.

Charmaine Noronha travelled as a visitor of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, which did not evaluation or approve this post.

Clarification – March 22, 2023: This file was up to date to explain that the Royal Rum Society delivers the only application to grow to be an officially certified rummelier.

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