Review: St. Nicholas Abbey White Rum (40% ABV)

The story of the Saint Nicholas Abbey Estate starts in the mid 17th century in Barbados with a bit of a drama-soap-opera style chain of events between two plantations and their owners, Col. Benjamin Berringer and Sir John Yeaman. It is said that Yeaman poisoned Berringer and then married his wife, Margaret in 1661, who was pregnant with Berringer’s child, a daughter also named Margaret. The two plantations merged as Yeamans Plantation which was later on inherited by Margaret’s son, and subsequently by his daughter, Susannah, which, if you kept track, is Berringer by blood. She was married to George Nicholas, and because she hated the Yeaman name, she renamed the Yeamans Plantation to Nicholas Plantation.

The history of SNA is rich, but you can read all about it on their website. It is worth mentioning that in 1810 the plantation was bought by the Cumberbatch family and was passed to Sarah Cumberbatch later on. Sarah married Charles Cave, and apparently they gave St. Nicholas Abbey the name it has today by combining its name at the time (Nicholas Plantation) with the name of the area where the Cumberbatch family lived in England (St. Nicholas Parish) and the location where the couple got married (Bath Abbey). Ta daa! Pretty simple, right?

Nowadays St. Nicholas Abbey is owned by the Warren family since 2006 who, among many other things, restored its great house (2006-2007), installed a new distillery and bottling facility (2008-2009) and they added the SNA Heritage Railway (2018-2019). The estate is a touristic attraction, but more relevant here, it’s one of the 4 rum distilleries on the island.

They use a custom build hybrid still named Annabelle and they make rum using Barbadian sugar cane juice that has been reduced to syrup using a vacuum evaporator. This process helps store the juice without it starting to ferment and ensures rum production all year long, as the Barbados crop season lasts only from February to June. St. Nicholas Abbey is the only distillery in Barbados to use exclusively cane juice – Foursquare is currently experimenting with cane juice distillates. Speaking of, their older stock actually hails from Foursquare, and their still and rum making techniques were developed with the help of Foursquare’s Master Distiller, Richard Seale.

Sugar cane syrup based, fermented for 5 days in 3000 litre tanks, distilled in their pot-column hybrid still and rested for 3 months in stainless steel tanks. Bottled at 40% ABV, non-chillfiltered and free of anything but rum and water.

On the nose it feels sweet, but in a subtle way. Whipped cream, pistachios, candied bananas, vanilla, fresh yogurt and blueberries. White chalk, basil and toffee. Vegetal in the background, like a salad mix. There’s a ‘rich-in-iron’ aroma to it (sounds better than blood I guess?). Do not expect a full-on grassy flavour like with cane juice based agricole rums, this is more subtle and rounded.

On the palate it’s rich upfront. Coconut water, vanilla, caramel and peach yogurt. Pears, mango, green bananas, white pepper and coriander. There is a flour covered dough note throughout. Definitely not as vegetal as expected, although you get some snippets of a grassy profile. The finish is short to medium with pears, single cream and caramel.

Bright, creamy, fruity, rounded and with a decent body. I enjoyed this, more of a premium unaged rum without the crazy esters. Can be found at £50 on The Whisky Exchange, which is a bit more than I’d like to pay for it (Doorly’s 3 YO 47% ABV is £29), but I’m glad I tried it – next I want to get the 60% version of the same juice.

St. Nicholas Abbey White Rum (40% ABV) score:
Flavour/taste: 51/70
Value for money: 11/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 77/100


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