I must admit that I hadn’t heard about St. Nicholas Abbey Rum until I visited the Boutique RumFest 2011 at the Hilton Olympia Hotel in London. I instantly fell in love with their whole range, just to find out that most of it wasn’t even available on the market. This year, though, they showcased a brand new white rum, and I was totally blown away. I voted for it in the Boutique RumFest Award for best White Rum category at The Golden Rum Barrel Awards – and it well deservedly won! As if that wasn’t enough, St. Nicholas Abbey also won the Distillery of the Year Award. Earlier this year, the white rum also won a bronze medal at the International Wine & Spirit Competition.
St. Nicholas Abbey distillery is one of four distilleries located in Barbados, an island claiming to have invented rum in the 17th century. In 2006, the property was purchased by the Warren family, who has spent the last couple of years restoring it – and of course making rum! Using old traditional methods and a pot still, the finished products have unique and complex flavours preserved from the fermentation.
At the moment the white rum is not very easy to find, but it should be available at The Whisky Exchange. I consider myself very lucky that I managed to secure a bottle for review.
At the Boutique RumFest, I tried it on its own and also in a highball with tonic water and Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters – and I thought it would be a good idea to begin the evaluation at home the same way.
Nose: Surprisingly pungent and grassy with some sweetness of vanilla and tropical fruits. Mouth: Not as intense as I thought it would be, it’s quite rough but with a nice balance between the creamy notes of fudge, vanilla and tropical fruits and the peppery, grassy surprise towards the end which in my opinion is quite reminiscent of rhum agricole. It’s very flavourful for a white rum and I was overwhelmed with an urge to find out how it works in cocktails.
To start with, I made a highball with rum and Fentiman’s Tonic Water, and as I didn’t have DeGroff’s bitters I used a dash of bergamot bitters and a few drops of Bitter Truth’s Pimento Dram instead – and it worked like a charm. I also decided to try the rum in a number of straightforward cocktails which let the base spirit shine through – and I ended up making a few Daiquiri variations – including the classic Daiquiri, Derby Daiquiri and La Floridita Daiquiri. All of them very tasty and exactly like they should be, and with those nice grassy Martinique rhum notes as a bonus. This made me want to try it in a typical rhum agricole drink, and what could be better than Ti’Punch? Well, it wasn’t bad, but the result lacked in depth, so I would prefer an aged rhum agricole instead – but it was definitely worth a try!
A highly versatile and balanced white rum with some unique and surprising elements, which will work wonders in any white rum cocktail. I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough. If you find a bottle, don’t hesitate to buy it – you most certainly won’t regret it! If you for some strange reason shouldn’t love it, you can always send the remaining contents of the bottle to me.