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Grenada – River Antione Rum Distillery

My friend Art loves negotiating.  Regardless of what the product or service, he becomes inspired at haggling over the terms of an exchange.  Here is a case in point:

We decided to tour the other parts of the island of Grenada.  Art approached a cluster of taxis and proceeded to inquire about hiring a cabby to be our tour guide for the day.  His response to the first cabby’s quotation was fore-ordained … Art squawks as if is mortally wounded, gesturing rapidly and shaking his head.  He proceeds down the line of cabbies and selects a second one to approach.  The process repeats itself, with Art loudly grumbling and gesturing.  The third cabby he approached has seen his antics and is prepared when Art approaches.  The third cabby agreed so a lower price, and promised to go get his cab.  A few minutes later a fourth cabby shows up to take us on our all-day tour (apparently cabby #3 had passed the honor of taking us around the island to yet another vendor!).

So we’re off on our island tour.  Our cabby is about our age, which is to say he had lived through the islands various governments, regimes, invasions and similar traumas.  We learned a lot about island culture and saw areas of the island that were certainly NOT on any tourist map!

At one point we requested to see a rum distillery, and we proceeded to what we are told was the second oldest distillery in the Western Hemisphere.  River Antione Estate Rum factory dates back to at least 1785 and may be even older.

River Antione Estate Rum Distillery is a far cry from Napa Valley wineries

River Antione Estate Rum Distillery is a far cry from Napa Valley wineries

A water wheel powers this sugar cane press.

A water wheel powers this sugar cane press.

A water wheel powers this sugar cane press.

A water wheel powers this sugar cane press.

Copper stills and condensing tanks.

Copper stills and condensing tanks.

The distillery purchases empty glass bottles from the local bars, scrapes off the labels, and fills the bottles with rum.  The rum had three grades:  <60% alcohol (120 proof) went back for more distillation; >70% alcohol (140 proof) was “good enough for Europeans”; and >80% alcohol (160 proof) was sold on the island to the locals.  Your basic white lightening in a bottle.  Since the bottles came from many different vendors, the corks would not always fit well.  When I re-entered the U.S. at Puerto Rico border control, I discovered the bottle I bought had leaked on the flight home.  Angrily I threw the offending bottle in the trash but the Border Agents got very agitated, rescuing the bottle from the trash, wrapping it in foil, and returning the “very good rum” to my suitcase!  Once I tasted the rum back home, it was so awful I ended up throwing it down the drain!

References:

Grenada Rum factory: River Antoine Estate

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Mark Bobb

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