In the birthplace of rum, it seems only fitting to tour the Mount Gay Distillery; established in 1703, it is the world’s oldest. You won’t regret the visit; I promise. View the truly fascinating process from sugar cane harvest to distillation and then best of all, visit the tasting room.
For years, Jim and I eschewed the little wooden, brightly painted rum shacks, 1500 of which dot the Barbadian landscape. Often ramshackle in appearance, Jim and I looked down our noses at them. Rather sketchy, we thought. Dear god, what misinformed insufferable snots we were. And we missed all those initial years of enjoying the essence of Barbados.
Rum shacks, now more dignifiedly referred to as rum shops, are to Barbados what pubs are to Britain - places to gather with friends, enjoy an inexpensive drink, engage in a wicked game of dominos or cards and exchange gossip. Want to mix with locals, mingle with anyone from a farmer to a business tycoon, or learn about rum? Wrench yourself from that fancy resort bar, find a rum shack that serves delicious traditional snacks and enjoy the real Barbados.
For as long as I can remember, I have known the adult Bajan nursery rhyme:
One of sour,
Two of sweet,
Three of strong and
Four of weak.
Sour is fresh lime juice; sweet is sugar water (easily made and also served with iced tea in Barbados); strong is of course rum; and weak is ice. Add a dash of Angostura Bitters plus a punch of freshly ground nutmeg, and that ladies and gentlemen is the recipe for an authentic Barbadian rum punch. Forget pre-bottled punches or fruit juice versions, taste the real thing and you will never forget it!
All right, need to go back. ASAP!