In St Kitts’ Oldest Town, an Exciting New Caribbean Rum
They made rum here for more than two centuries, when Old Road was new.
The town of Old Road on St Kitts’ western coast is where the island then called Liamuiga first became part of the New World — the point of the first English land grant in the West Indies.
Today, the former rum distillery at Wingfield Estate in St Kitts is a newly-unearthed remnant of a lost age, one that, some believe, is the oldest extant distillery in the Caribbean, dating back to 1681.
It’s a walkable museum in the modern day, thanks to impressive reconstruction and conservation efforts, set in a important pole in the region’s history.
But at its heart, there is something new here, something dynamic: Old Road Rum.
Jack Widdowson has been visiting this place since he was a child, and when you walk into the visitor center at Wingfield Estate, the first thing he shows you is a replica of the land grant that brought the first English settlers to this site — a group that included the great-great grandfather of Thomas Jefferson.
Widdowson is the founder of Old Road Rum, the first-ever aged rum made in St Kitts, a brand that is bottling the layered history of this place, redefining the island’s spirits culture and putting this seaside town back on the Caribbean map.
The new rum is a 12-year-old expression, aged in ex-bourbon casks, for now Bajan juice that is finding a home here as the first aged rum bottled in St Kitts.
The plan is to build a full-fledged distillery here; for now, the company has launched a “founders program” that is giving enthusiasts the chance to own one of the first 500 bottles made here and “become a life-long member” of the Old Road Rum Company.
But rum isn’t the only thing you can obtain here.
Old Road is part of the new Kittitian RumMaster program, a certification course that teaches rum theory, rum history and rum tasting here at Wingfield Estate; the second part of the course takes place on Cockleshell Bay, led by Roger Brisbane, the founder of the island’s Hibiscus Spirits, which produces infused rums.
Because rum is essential to the journey of this island, to the history of this site. Walk the grounds of Wingfield Estate, peer at the ancient stone and hollowed-out hallways, anchored at the edge of the rainforest, and there’s a palpable energy, as you feel the weight of the centuries, exploration and empire, toil and turmoil and unbreakable determination.
And you can find it in a glass of Old Road Rum.
For more, visit Old Road.