The St Nicholas Abbey Distillery in Barbados operated by the Warren family is one of those gems in the rum world that you know always stand for impeccable quality and that will bring smiles to your face when you try their amazing rums which uses traditional distillation.
The St Nicholas Abbey plantation was purchased by the Warren family in 2006 who restored the property to it´s original state and it´s one of the last surviving 17th century plantations on the island. Their mission is to make it self supporting and it also contains a cottage industry of sugar cane related products such as tasty brown sugars, molasses, sugar honey and rum cakes to name a few of the lovely products they make on the estate.
My first experience with their rums was at the UK Rumfest 2011 (and later in 2013) when i tried their range of rums and got totally blown away and among them was one peculiar rum that not yet had a name, an unaged white rum called the “see through”
The unaged “see through” was made with estate grown cane, crushed in a traditional steam press and then made into sugar cane honey and fermented before being transferred into a pot/column hybrid still named Annabelle for a double distillation. And then after distillation only water is added and there`s no chill-filtration used. It was a rum with a rich fruit and vanilla finish.
This lovely white rum later got a name – simply St Nicholas Abbey White Rum – and became the winner of the Bronze Medal at the 2012 International Wine and Spirits Competition in London and in 2014 it won the Premium White Rum Category at the Bartender’s Best Awards.
Now at this past years UK Rumfest was out for tasting a portion of this white rum that was laid to rest and aged for five years and thus creating their first estate produced 5 Year Old Rum.. It`s their first rum distilled and aged entirely on the estate (the previous rums were made exclusively for the plantation by master Distiller Richard Seale from R.L Seale and Foursquare) and was ready in 2014.
The St Nicholas Abbey Rum 5 Year Old is a beautiful Rum and commemorates a beautiful story – not least, the first generation of Warren’s, Arthur and Henry, born into St. Nicholas Abbey 21st May 2014. I believe the 5 Year Old Rum will be released soon during this year.
Fermented sugar cane juice
Interesting also with St Nicholas Abbey rums is that these are not molasses rums! but neither are they rhum agricoles – they are made from fermented sugar cane juice, called “sugarcane honey”. Rhum agricole is made from fresh sugar cane juice and tastes totally different.
The fermented sugar cane juice is thick, syrupy and very dark brown in color, almost black – it looks like molasses but it is not and it doesn`t taste very much like molasses either. It has a sort of funny smell, i cannot really describe it, it´s like a mix of earth, dirt, molasses, old sugarcane syrup, yeast and overripe purple plums.
The taste is somewhat like that too, like a mix of Steen`s sugarcane syrup, earth, dirt, yeast and overripe plums…it´s not very sweet, rather semi-sweet. It has that kind of earhtiness (not heat) as say, chipotle peppers. Could be used for a earhty ti-punch…
Interesting how it can bring forth such rums as these!
Here´s a short description of my impressions of these two wonderful rums:
St Nicholas Abbey White Rum:
The nose is intense with fruity and sugar cane notes and somewhat slight peppery, this is a rum that got both attitude, complexity and flavor.
In the mouth it`s rich, a bit fiery with white pepper notes, tropical fruits and vanilla. It has the same sort of intensity as a rhum agricole but lacks the agricole`s pronounced grassiness, instead it has a mellow fruity and slightly green vegetal note. And it has a little “bite” but in a good way, it´s not at all harsh, it`s round and very very nice.
The bottle is simple, tall and elegant.
Very pleasant rum and for mixing it`s perfect but it`s just as good for sipping. I would say it´s a very good all-round white rum that got it´s own personality with a slightly peppery attitude.
Try it in a refreshing daiquiri!
Now let´s move on the five year old version of the former “see through”:
St Nicholas Abbey 5 Year Old Rum:
In the nose: It has a brilliant golden amber color and when opening the bottle and pouring a little of the golden goodness into a tasting glass the velvety rich nose is filling the air with sweet, toffee-like notes that are totally addictive. I smell depth here too, not just toffee-like sweetness, there`s a hint of wood from the barrel it has been resting in adding some depth and character.
The taste: Here you can feel the rum is young but it´s exceptionally well balanced and the same soft velvety character that was in the nose comes forth here too. It`s rich, warm, welcoming with notes of toffee, vanilla, orange peel and tropical fruit backed up by some spicier woody notes.
The slightly peppery notes from the unaged white rum is not present, instead it´s mellow and soft but does have a lively character.
I have tried their 12 and 15 year olds and they are both incredible rums, especially the 15 year, and this one is like their little sister. It has the richness of what i have got to know as the trademark of the St Nicholas Abbey rums but it lacks the extreme depth and complexity that the 12 and 15 year olds have and of course, it´s a lot younger! that said, it´s a very good rum and you can safely go and purchase a bottle without any hesitation, this is good stuff.
I would actually use this as both sipper and mixer and leave the older rums entirely for the sipping glasses.
The decanter bottle is a masterpiece of beauty, simple and yet distinctive, elegant and with a personal touch with the beautiful engravings of the St Nicholas Abbey estate mansion and palmtrees (they do personal engravings too with for example your name on the bottle when you purchase directly at the plantation) hand applied labels and the mahogany cork topped with embossed leather which is symbolic of the islands first mahogany trees, planted 250 years ago on Cherry Hill.
It`s really a thing of beauty!
I cannot enough say how good the rums from St Nicholas Abbey are, everyone of them! this is quality at it´s best! and there are of course no extra sugar or additives in this rum. Go get a bottle of these and their other expressions and you will have treasures in your house.
They are on the higher price level yes but you will get really good value for the money.
Everyone knows i`m in love with the tropics, so let`s make a daiquiri dressed up in tropical attire:
2 oz St Nicholas Abbey White Rum
0.5-0.75 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz sugarcane syrup
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe or glass and garnish with something tropical….i used speared pink bougainvillea, braided palm leaves and a lime slice.
See other St Nicholas White rum reviews on RumRatings
See other St Nicholas 5 Year Old rum reviews on RumRatings