|Entrance to River Antoine Estate|
|River Antoine Estate|
River Antoine is the oldest rum factory with a functioning water wheel in the Western Hemisphere!
|Tour Guide and Water Wheel|
|River Antoine Estate Water Wheel|
Experience the Glory!
The water wheel's center extends through the wall. The mechanical energy captured from the water wheel is transferred via grooves connected to the adjacent wheel, turning the gears that ultimately end in crushing the sugar cane.
|Water Wheel connection to gear wheel for Cane Crusher|
The River Antoine Estate is located in St. Patrick, a parish in the Northeastern part of the island. It encompasses 450 of the original 500 acres of plantation that the Frenchman named Antoine acquired in 1656. At present, 40 of those acres are used for cultivating sugar cane. The most recent sugar cane samplings were planted 20 years ago and consist of a new species variety that yields more juice. The age old methods of cutting sugar cane by hand into bundles and crushing the sugar cane twice using the water wheel's energy alone are remarkable. Due to the limitation of the wheel running only a few hours each day, it takes 3 days to crush the cane.
Once the sugar cane is crushed and its juice extracted, the crushed sugar cane, known as Bagasse, fills an old box cart. It is then pushed down a track and emptied to join the other overflowing piles left to dry in the Grenadian Sun.
|Cart full of Bagasse|
The Bagasse is not wasted. It serves two important purposes, by providing energy to the Boiler House and mulch for the soil around the plantation.
Full load coming through!
|Full cart of Bagasse being pushed by a worker|
|Bagasse drying in the Sun|
Off to the Boiling House...
The aromas of the heated sugar cane juice inside are not to be missed...
|Fermentation Container (Cement)|
There are eight cement fermentation tanks inside the cement building adjacent to the Boiling House. They allow the sugar cane syrup to ferment in open air with natural yeasts for 8 days; one tank for each day of the fermentation process.
Just outside we get up close and personal with the dual pot stills!
The two pot stills we see are more recent and are both made in Kentucky by Vendome. Previously, they were being made by an outfit in the UK. The energy source for the pot stills is local firewood instead of Bagasse due to the heat produced. The wood burns at a higher heat and for a longer period of time. Approximately 300 gallons are made per batch. We are told their present output doesn't even satisfy the local market!
|Dual Pot Stills|
(firewood for heating the stills in the foreground)
After entering the lower area, we witness the hydrometer, underground collection for bonding, and their hand bottling station. Wow! We then walk to their restaurant bar for a royal River Antoine Rum tasting experience including lunch.
Gotta love quality assurance!!
|Rivers Rums & Local Fruits and Spices|
We taste Rivers full line with jugs of fresh coconut water for mixing.
We are also invited to taste an unreleased aged expression (see oak barrel in photo). The Rum had been in the cask for approximately a year, weighing in at about 80% ABV.
Nothing short of awesome...even at 160 proof!
|River Antoine Estate Barrel Aged Cask Tasting|
When talking about rum at River Antoine Estate...
"Don't Say Rum, Say Rivers"
Their punches are delicious and despite my hesitation about ready-to-drink punch mixes, they drink up surprisingly nice over ice. Rivers Royal Grenadian Rhum Punch with Sorrel was lovely!
|Sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa)|
Witnessing the water turn the wheel and workers oversee the sugar cane being cut and crushed on vintage machines is like a living picture out of a history book. They also illustrate the natural beauty of sustainable organic rum by their independence from the limited resources of modern world. Moreover, the mastery of man over his dominion by implementing hard work and intelligence in pursuit of the age old Caribbean craft of rum production, holds a timeless attraction. Rum may be one of mankind's simplest treasures and finest rewards when done right; River Antoine Estate seems to have captured the essence of that for all to see.
|River Antoine Estate|
Cheers to River Antoine Estate and a big thank you for an incredible guided journey back in time!
On our way back aboard the rum bus it was necessary to stop off at a few rum shops.
In Grenada, rum shops have a home made spiced rum called "under the counter" and it is literally under the counter. We stopped for a beer and some "under the counter" at The Grand Etang House.
|The Grand Etang House|
A drink and a view....
And a couple of monkeys across the road
|John Gibbons and Mona Monkey|
The Mona Monkeys are not native to Grenada, but were brought over on slave ships from Western Africa during the 18th Century.