Saint Kitts & Nevis
In the late 1980s Baron Edmund Rothschild built a distillery in St. Kitts to make a fine cane spirit unlike any other in the Caribbean. CSR, or Cane Spirit Rothschild, was distilled to a high purity and was advertised as A Unique Caribbean Vodka. About 1998 that distillery was closed and the St Kitts sugar factory has ceased production.
Today the Brinley family are blending and bottling Brinley Gold Rums in a variety of flavors at their St Kitts Rum Company. The Brinley Rum Shop on the new cruise ship dock in Basseterre is a pleasant place to get to know all the Brinley rums. Though most of these rums available in the US, you'll find always find something unique at the rumshop.
The annual carnival in St. Kitts and Nevis is called culturama. Culture or hammond is also the name of the illicit cane spirit made in small pot stills across the island of St. Kitts, I haven't found much being made in Nevis any more. Much of St. Kitts is covered with sugar cane so there are ample supplies of fresh juice to be fermented and distilled at the illicit stills.
It was easier to find this rum than to ascertain any details of how it is made. But hammond is usually sold shortly after it is distilled. If it is allowed to sit, even only a few weeks, the flavor improves. But no one I talked to ever let it sit around long enough to notice a difference. Some people add local herbs and spices to this rum but this is much less prevalent than on the other islands. Hammond is most commonly drunk straight and then chased with water or Coke.
While St. Kitts was the stage for battles between the French and the English, Nevis was less affected by the conflicts and prospered. Sugar production techniques, brought from Brazil by Jews fleeing the Spanish, helped Nevis become the biggest sugar producer in the leeward islands. According to The Economist, in 1775, a ton of West Indian sugar was worth the equivalent of $5000 compared to $160 in 1990. In spite of epidemics of malaria and cholera, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions Nevis became known as the Queen of the Caribbees.
Alexander Hamilton is well-known as one of the forefathers of the United States, his picture appears on the $10 bill, and his legacy includes the Coast Guard. Born in Nevis and growing up in St. Croix, Hamilton saw first-hand how smuggling rum and other commodities hurt the tax base of the island governments. As the first Secretary of the Treasury Department in 1790, Hamilton lobbied congress for a fleet of cutters, the forbear of the US Coast Guard, "for the preservation of the revenue." In 1919, the Coast Guard declared war against rum runners. Ironically, St. Croix was one of the sources of the rum declared illicit during those dark prohibition years.
The Nevis Historical and Conservation Society operates a museum in the childhood home of Alexander Hamilton, just north of the ferry dock in Charlestown. Exhibits include a small copper still that until recently was serving as a flower pot at a local house.
The society also maintains the Admiral Horatio Nelson Museum near the governors mansion. In 1786, Nelson made a name for himself by seizing several ships loaded with goods bound for the US. This angered local merchants who sued the young captain. While awaiting trial, Nelson could have been arrested if he was caught ashore - except on Sunday. In spite of this restriction he managed to court a prominent widow and later married her in the biggest social events in the history of Nevis.
The first tourist resort in the Caribbean, the Bath Hotel, was built in Nevis in 1778. The warm water was thought to have medicinal properties. Captain John Smith spent five days here in 1607 on his way to Virginia so his crew could recuperate from the Atlantic crossing.
Several restored plantations now operate as resorts. The Hermitage, has been studied as the oldest wooden structure in the Caribbean. Plan to visit one of these elegantly restored great houses when you come to Nevis.
The first golf course in the islands is also claimed to have been built here.
- There is only 1 sugar cane spirit distiller in this database from Saint Kitts & Nevis.
- CSR/DDL (St Kitts) Ltd
- There is only also 1 company in this database blending/bottling sugar cane spirits from Saint Kitts & Nevis.
- St. Kitts Rum Company