There are not many Abbeys where you can fill up on delicious rum, get wolf-whistled in the forest gullies and learn how to play croquet so a trip to St. Nicholas Abbey in Barbados definitely makes for a mandatory addition to your Bajan itinerary!
The home of rum, Barbados has a range of distilleries that still produce its fine liquor up to this very day, with St. Nicholas Abbey being the last intact 17th-century plantation on the island. After swimming with turtles and stuffing my face silly at Oistins Fish Fry, I decided that Sunday should be the day to relax and drink some rum while on the island when I visited with Thomas Cook Airlines.
This visit was one I was looking forward to all week 🙂 and not just because of the chance to sample some delicious rum. I get all geeky when it comes to understanding how things are made so pairing my passion for
drinking rum (dark rum, if you please) and my distillery curiosity, a trip to St. Nicholas Abbey was right up my street.
Getting To St. Nicholas Abbey.
St. Nicholas Abbey. Famed for being the oldest intact and working plantation and distillery on Barbados is a grand as you can imagine. As I drove into the rolling hills of the island, the tiny villages disappeared to make way for some epic gigantic trees that lined the roads in Jurassic Park-esque style. There it was – St Nicholas Abbey, smack-bang in the centre of really lush green rainforest! I kinda wanted to jump out of the car as soon as I saw it and reenact the arrival scene in Jurassic Park.
Touring the Abbey
The Warren family now preside over this plantation, the great house and, of course, the dark rum tradition that is centuries old. As soon as I arrived a Member of the Warren family decided to give us a little T.T.T. – a talk, tour and taste as I quickly nicknamed it :-).
Walking around the Jacobean Mansion and the lush gullies, it’s easy to see why so many people fall in love with this piece of Barbados. I almost felt as though I’d been transported back to the 17th century. The immaculate herb garden, the cottage industry and the croquet lawns made me just want to throw down my camera and relax in the lush grounds around the Abbey so I did just that! Rum punch in hand, with a slightly woozy head, I headed for the croquet lawns that line the top of the Abbey.
Being wolf-whistled in the forest!
One thing that most people don’t mention is how quiet and peaceful this area is… except for Lance and Baby, two resident birds that sound more like a 70’s disco act than a pair of pristinely (and rather cheeky) salmon-crested cockatoos. As I walked alone towards the croquet fields, Baby literally wolf whistled me in the dirtiest and loudest way you can imagine… which I accepted with open arms! Who am I to turn down a compliment, right? As you can imagine, I walked with a bounce in my step and a lift in my spirit for the rest of the day! 😉
What about the rum?
Interestingly and unlike its famous neighbour, Mount Gay Rum, St Nicholas Abbey does not mass produce its heritage rum instead choosing to only sell it at a few locations across the world. In London, the place to grab a bottle is Fortnum & Mason’s or Harrods… just in case you’re looking for gift ideas for me. 🙂
The rum itself is distilled and aged over different periods of time using heritage methods such as pot still distillation which is reflected in the rather smooth flavour of the rum.
I had a really great time exploring St. Nicholas Abbey! There are not many times that you can visit a beautiful estate, drink lots of rum punch and get an ego-building wolf-whistle! Then again, that sounds like my typical Friday night in London (I wish!). 😉