Oistins is a village on the south side of Bridgetown which has developed from a small fishing community with a few stalls cooking fish at the side of the road, to a Bajan institution, popular with both locals and visitors. A large area near the fish market, arranged around a central stage, which was running a karaoke show on the night we visited, is dedicated to serving up freshly cooked fish, with as many side orders as will fit in the polystyrene boxes, to all comers who sit at trestle tables under fixed and temporary shelters, drinking beer and absorbing the lively atmosphere. It was fun, and although I couldn’t really see what I was eating, it was delicious.
We’ve been doing our bit to keep the sales of Mount Gay Rum flourishing, so it was interesting to visit them. I’ve been to a number of alcohol production facilities in various countries over the years, so am broadly familiar with the industrial process, the big tanks, the barrels (used for bourbon in the US then shipped to Barbados), the special palate of the master taster, and the tour at Mount Gay didn’t disappoint in that regard. I was a little disappointed not to be able to see the bottling line (the heavy rain had flooded the path) as that’s usually the most fascinating, watching all the bottles shuffle along the moving belt, but I did learn a few little tidbits along the way.
As the sign says, their claim is to be the rum that invented rum. That for me begs the question of how someone thought of trying to make alcohol from molasses, a bi-product of the sugar refining process? Or indeed, how anyone thought of making alcohol out of anything in the first place?
At the end of the tour we had a little tasting of their three main products, and then proceeded to the bar where we tried a couple of cocktails. I had a ‘Bajan Smile’, a cross between a pina colada and strawberry milk, which went down, dangerously, without touching the sides.
I still prefer E’s ‘Rum Royale’ cocktail of freshly squeezed lime juice, rum and a touch of sugar syrup over ice, with which we begin our evenings. It will bring special memories of this lovely interlude, but I know I won’t be able to replicate it when I get home.