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Travel: F& B in Barbados

Taste of Barbados is a festival of food



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Delicious - and, at US$200 a head, pricey.



For more information on Taste of Barbados visit its website at www.tasteofbarbados.com .



A rum that's 'something really special'

ST. PETER PARISH, Barbados-Once upon a time, almost all of Barbados's 300-plus sugar plantations would have made their own rum. Before the coming of emancipation, a rum ration was one of the few perks for the slaves who worked the plantations.

But after the end of slavery in the Caribbean in 1838 the number of on-site distilleries began to decline. Today, there are still dozens of sugar plantations in Barbados, but virtually all the island's rum is made by three big companies: Mount Gay, Malibu and Foursquare.

Now Larry Warren, the owner of St. Nicholas Abbey, is bringing back plantation rum and in the process, he hopes, creating a new niche market.

St. Nicholas isn't really an abbey - it's a 17th-century Jacobean plantation great house, one of only three in the Western Hemisphere and possibly the second-oldest building in Barbados. (The oldest is thought to be Drax Hall, the island's other Jacobean great house, still occupied by the Drax family. The third one, for those who must know, is in Virginia, in the United States.)

The "abbey" is an imposing, three-storey home, open to the public and still attached to a 90-hectare sugar plantation. Warren is taking over the harvesting of some of its crop from Barbados Agricultural Management Company, the government agency that operates many of the island's remaining plantations.

Since January 2009, he has been turning sugar cane into rum right on the premises, using a 19th-century press. Visitors will be able to watch the entire process.

There isn't a lot of rum: a maximum of just 7,000 bottles a year, Warren estimates. (Compare that with the 400,000 bottles Mount Gay can turn out in one hour.)

It is aged in old bourbon barrels for 10 years, but you can already buy some: until the first made-on-the-premises product is ready, in about 2018, Warren is working with Foursquare distillery to make his artisanal product.