A sneak peak into the (alleged) birthplace of spiced rum and the lives of the individuals who make it.
Spice rum combine at Castries market.
The Moral Cellar was on trip in St. Lucia, the place grapes will not be grown. Usually, we cowl ethically made wine however, on this journey, our focus was rum and spices.
With every passing yr, St. Lucia turns into hotter, not solely from ubiquitous international warming, however as a result of vacationers have lastly found the thrill to be discovered there. Till COVID, tourism elevated yearly and is now strongly rebounding, resorts are being revamped (Viceroy’s Sugar Seaside) and constructed (the unique golf resort Cabot), and the island continues to put on the crown because the #1 honeymoon vacation spot.
Throughout a long time of vacationing within the Caribbean, we have now visited over 20 islands, however for the final half dozen years have chosen to return to St. Lucia yearly due to (in no specific order) the grace, appeal, and humor of the Lucians, the jaw-dropping tropical vegetation, the mountains with their rain forests, the clear heat water, and the sense that there stay day by day reminders of the “genuine” Caribbean. A minute off the primary highway are machete-wielding banana farmers of their muddy boots and cows lazily consuming roadside grass whereas egrets relaxation on their backs. Every afternoon, teams of uniform-clad, backpack-wearing schoolchildren purchase freshly baked treats on their manner dwelling. As an apart, St. Lucia has a wonderful academic system with a lot of its graduates leaving the island for superior research. We personally know of two, one who’s now a surgeon at Johns Hopkins, the opposite a geological engineer in Scandinavia. The island boasts two Nobel Laureates—Derek Walcott and Sir William Lewis.
Sadly, most guests miss this. They’re in gated, all-inclusive resorts. Not us. We lease an residence, store within the central farmer’s market and bakeries, and procure the native beverage, on this case, rum.
With ample sugar cane, rum has dominated the Caribbean for hundreds of years. Every island claims its sugar cane “terroir” and propriety pot distilling approach make their rums distinctive.
A quick reminder. The amber colour of rum comes from both barrel getting older or the addition of caramel. If the previous, the alcohol leaches tannins and esters from the porous wooden, creating each colour and taste.
Rum’s affect on St. Lucia is profound. Nevertheless, due to the mountainous terrain, which restricted the viability of the plantation (slave) financial system relative to different Caribbean islands, St. Lucia didn’t develop a lot cane. As a substitute, they perfected the distilling course of.
An artisanal offshoot of white rum is spiced rum. St. Lucians declare to have invented this brew, a product which, in its industrialized incarnation (suppose Captain Morgan), seems on U.S. mini-mart cabinets.
Locals pleasure themselves on their home made variations. Passions run deep on whose system ends in one of the best spiced rum.
Intrigued by this spirit subculture, we requested a St. Lucian pal if he would introduce us to his favourite spiced rum mixologist, so after work on Friday (payday) he took us to close by Roseau the place Junior Louis was getting ready rum for that night time’s sale.
Junior’s headquarters are within the kitchen of his dwelling which is positioned down a slender alley, lined with tiny homes, every a foot or two from its neighbor. The alley is vigorous. Residents have pulled chairs into the slender house for animated conversations. Youngsters are working round, and Junior is tough at work. His kitchen has been usurped by the accoutrements of this enterprise, primarily outsized bottles containing spiced rum in numerous levels of maturity.
Junior attributes his island-wide success (together with a bar proprietor who drives 3-hours round-trip every week to have his spiced rum bottles refilled) to his proprietary choice and mixture of hand-harvested barks (together with mauby), herbs, and spices, a lot of that are unfamiliar to us. Together with cinnamon, star anise, fennel seed, and two varieties of bay leaves, he makes use of kalkun, bois de bande (mentioned to be an aphrodisiac), and nanny, the latter of which imparts a gentle minty taste to the beverage. Proof (pun meant) that this can be a successful recipe, his model, Monster Spice, garnered the highest award at an island-wide competitors judged by distillery professionals.
As required, Junior makes use of Denros’ 160 proof rum, explaining that the excessive alcohol content material is critical to extract flavors from the spices. After macerating the entire above for 5-7 days, he provides sufficient purified water to carry the alcohol right down to that of most rums (40 p.c) after which sweetens the combination with ardour fruit, mango, or ginger focus.
Each enterprise wants high quality management and his is not any exception. As soon as a batch is prepared, the primary clients get a free pattern in return for suggestions. Throughout our go to, the batch was too sturdy, so he remixed earlier than permitting paying clients to partake at 5EC ($1.80) per “shot.”
Junior has competitors. Due to the low barrier to entry (the Castries market sells packages of spices, in addition to bottles with dried spices prepared for the addition of rum), spiced rum is obtainable virtually in all places. For instance, our roadside fruit vendor had pictures on the market.
One among his rivals is one other pal of ours, Ishana, who sells spiced rum from her beachfront bar in Marigot Bay. Ishana makes use of lots of the identical spices as Junior however her technique is completely different, and we predict, distinctive. She boils the spices, together with nutmeg, in home made sugar syrup, refusing to depend on the sweetness in juice concentrates. We discovered her product surprisingly completely different and smoother from Junior’s, regardless of the similarity in elements.
When you can’t observe down Junior or Ishana, all of the grocery shops promote spiced rum made by St. Lucia Distillers, an umbrella company with quite a few well-known manufacturers together with Chairman’s Reserve and Bounty. At their tasting facility, we had been followers of Chairman’s Reserve #1, a limited-edition spiced rum made with turmeric, ginger, and almonds. Basically, the business manufacturers are for vacationers and export.
Eager to strive our hand on the alchemy that’s spiced rum, we introduced dwelling a package deal of ready-to-immerse spices and barks. Fortunately, overproof rum is obtainable within the U.S. Our batch is at the moment “getting older.” We’ll let you understand how it seems.