When people come to Grenada for the first time, they want to see what makes this Caribbean island so different from the others. Is it their traditional chocolate or clove production? Is it the hip and modern West Indies Beer Company with fluorescent lights? Or is it Grenada’s impressive university campus filled with some of the most interesting restaurants that the island has to offer? No doubt all of the above makes the island unique, but if you’d like to travel through time and witness the past, present and future, then you must see the Grenadian rum distilleries.
Firstly, you should visit Clarke’s Court. Not only is it located right next to the harbour where most tourists arrive, it is also the perfect contemporary distillery that shows you how rum is produced in most Caribbean places today. Here you can see the column stills that work with molasses and the open factory style building that lets some fresh wind in (we don’t want too much heat kept inside!). Then you can finish your tour at the air conditioned bar where you can taste all their products and purchase one or two bottles for later.
Then, you should head north and visit the River Antoine distillery. As soon as you enter the premises, you travel back in time to the year 1785 when it was first opened. With the original equipment still in use, you can witness how they produced rum more than 230 years ago. Using fresh sugarcane juice (as was normal in those days), it is processed with a lot of hand labour, which results in a 75 % white rum with a serious bite. Since it is not allowed to bring such high alcohol on a plane, River Antoine also produce a tourist friendly, diluted version that is only 69 %. All of their rum gets easily sold out each year, so they don’t have the need to age it. Thus, you buy the alcoholic sugar cane product that could have been growing in the fields just a few weeks ago.
From there, you should continue to Westerhall, also located in the north. Likewise, this is an old style distillery, though it is currently in ruins since the storms tore it all down. This place has a spooky atmosphere with mother nature taking its course. Surrounded by the picturesque remains, there is a small museum and an open bar where you can sample the rum as they used to produce it in the “Good Ol’ Days”. The rum is now made by another distillery of course, but in taste and style, the product didn't change at all. Each sip still brings you back in time as you look around and enjoy your refreshment. You can also cool down with some icy water in case the sun is too hot, so have a seat and enjoy.
Now that you have experienced the past and the present, it is time to travel back south again, where you will find yourself on another planet at the Renegade distillery. This place is not just modern; it is almost futuristic in many ways. Here you can see the future of rum production and as of today, there is no other distillery like this in the world. Their techniques are based on old traditions, but they are specially adapted to the modern requirements of state-of-the-art production as well as the demands of the consumers. The distillery prides itself on being environmentally friendly and caring for the needs of the local community as well. As their aim is to find the best soil for each sugarcane variety, the result is a unique product that cannot be found anywhere else. The production kicks off in 2020, so you will have to wait before you can taste their stuff. Unless you find a way to really travel in time.......