In the 1700’s an enterprising soul put two and two together, sugarcane and abundant water and wood and created a state of the art rum factory here in Grenada. Now it’s a living breathing 300 year old antique whose product comes in three flavors, Mango Rum Punch 30 percent, airplane legal 69 percent, and 75 plus percent kick-a-poo joy juice rum which, if taken in imprudent quantities, I’m told, will make you sterile before your time.
When arriving at Rivers Rum one can only think, oh it’s the Ponderosa estate with waving fields of sugarcane instead of cattle, featuring an elegant restaurant with table cloths and napkins. It’s all so refined up on the second floor of a stone building where the breeze cools everything down, not inexpensive but you can pay a lot for a cool breeze in Grenada.
After a nice lunch with lots of cool breeze we walked along a shaded, gently curving drive where the first of several original out buildings could be seen, old grayed wood covered with flowering vine, just the look New England strives so hard to affect. As we approach the Rummery ® ( remember you heard it here first) I’m overwhelmed by the massive piles of wood and shredded wood products piled several stories high but the thing that catches one’s eye is a three story high water wheel still used to crush the sugarcane while the juice runs down a narrow stone gutter. I can only assume that it’ll be heated up enough at some point…and there it is dear Escapees, huge copper kettles with smoke wafting up from somewhere underneath and it’s hot…no, very hot in this building. And smokey. The lads have to use huge long handled ladles to manually move the cane juice, which the nice young man assured is becoming molasses, from one eight foot wide kettle to a hotter eight foot wide kettle and so forth. They all seem to be dedicated to the concept that if it was good enough when they started River Rum in the 1700’s it was, well…good enough, so every time an electric motor is used, Whitfield, our guide for the day, practically apologized. There’s a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with a maze of plumbing so I say let’s cut the bloke some slack.
So, as I say the process is very labor intensive as evidenced by the number of strapping young lads about, what with hauling great piles of logs, ladling and such, so I’m not surprised when informed that they don’t make enough River Rum to export any, which could mean a rethink of the 1700’s production process is in order or that Grenada has a drinking problem.
So when they say please exit via the “gift shop” you just know what’s going to happen. Free Rum in plastic cups, a couple of T-shirts just to keep it legal and stacks of cardboard boxes filled with, I’m going to take a flyer here…RUM. So the average rum addled tourist, by this point, has little resistance. Even I almost bought the T-shirt, at least until I saw the price tag.
What does it all mean? I don’t know. Like most Grenadians I like a wee bit of rum now and then and the antique rum factory is awfully picturesque and I’m just glad it still exists.