Rum is to the Caribbean what Scotch is to Scotland and bourbon is to Kentucky. It’s part of the culture, the fabric, and the lore of the place. And a primary ingredient in the fun that goes on there.
Most Caribbean islands manufacture their own rum and the best of it is usually consumed domestically — all the more reason to visit. As Vacay Network Travel Podcast hosts Adrian Brijbassi and Jim Byers note, the finest rums are complex, smooth, and delicious on their own. When mixed, rum is the base for some of the world’s most heralded cocktails. For connoisseurs, a journey to the Caribbean is a pilgrimage for flavor.
Here are three island nations with experiences rum travelers will savor.
Barbados — Rum was reputedly invented in Barbados, where plantation slaves discovered the potable when molasses was fermented. Mount Gay, established in 1703, is the world’s oldest commercial rum manufacturer and its distillery tour includes numerous samples of high-quality spirits as well as stories about Barbadian history and culture tied to the drink.
Trinidad & Tobago — Angostura is best known for being a maker of bitters used in cocktails and recipes but the company also makes fantastic rum. (For many years its Legacy brand rum was the most expensive in the world.) Even more, it has a large facility that provides tours of the distillery. You’ll enjoy samples as well. Be sure to taste the Angostura No. 1, which is aged for 16 years, spending some of that time in French oak barrels.
British Virgin Islands — Callwood Rum Distillery is a family-run operation that dates hundreds of years. It uses sugar cane from its own plantation to make 25 gallons of rum each day and then hand-bottles the liquor. For more variety, head to Rum Bar at Copper Island Beach Club, which stocks more than 280 kinds of rum. Find rare gems as well as classic cocktails.