You’ll find a few varieties of local rum lurking in the bar backs of all the watering holes on the island. None is more potent however than Rivers – the local firewater, quite literally. When Grenada first entered my world some 20 odd years ago my Dad was working at the River Antoine Rum Distillery, he bought a few bottles back home with him and one evening showed us a trick, holding a burning spill in front of his face and with a mouthful of River’s he proceeded to breathe fire with the rum. This is quite an art, as he explained, since the rum very quickly numbs your mouth which makes it very difficult to keep your lips pursed and therefore maintain the necessary pressure with your mouth to force the stuff far enough away from you so as to avoid severe burns.
Rivers is the only drink I’ve ever seen that ice sinks in.
Strength varies from year to year and since the rum isn’t exported (except in hand luggage) the specific strength doesn’t have to be displayed on the label. Typically the stuff is 75% alcohol by volume, although the label lists the alcohol content by proof: 140% – most other rums are around the 40% alcohol by volume mark. This varies though from year to year depending on how much rain has fallen on the sugar cane from which the rum is made, some years it can get up to 86% volume / 180% proof if it’s been dry.
Strictly speaking the rum is not actually allowed on planes, it’s just too flammable. You can however buy a bottle at the airport to take back home with you, this is the aviation friendly stuff at a mere 69% volume.
The distillery hasn’t changed its production methods since production began in 1785. Sugar cane is cut by hand and taken to the distillery which claims to run the only operating water wheel in the western hemisphere, this and the conveyer that moves the cane to the press have been in use since production began over two centuries ago. Tours are available and visitors are very welcome, our front desk staff or on site taxi drivers will be happy to arrange this for you.
The rum is an island favourite and the distillery can’t make enough to satisfy demand. My advice is to go easy on the stuff, it’s lethal.