Grenada is the “Spice Island” and you can even find these spices in the locally produced Grenada rum. While you can take a Grenada rum distillery tour, Justin and I had a unique experience on our half day tour of Grenada. Our tour guide, Anthony, took us to a small bar for a rum tasting as part of our excursion.
His friend, Mark owns the bar and it’s aptly called “Mark’s Sports Bar”. There’s the perfect outdoor patio, you’re surrounded by plants and brightly painted homes, and you can enjoy a wonderful view of the island.
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Grenada Rum Tasting
At Mark’s Sports Bar, Anthony guided us through the local Grenada rum tasting. There was a table with many bottles on it, and it was possible to purchase some rum to bring back home. However, some of the rum actually isn’t legal to bring back home! More on that in a bit.
Grenada Rum Punch
First, we tried a rum punch, a very popular drink throughout the Caribbean. I’m sure you’ve tried this one before, especially if you’ve ever traveled anywhere around the Caribbean islands. This rum punch was one of Mark’s special homemade concoctions.
It was particularly strong, yet very tasty. Rum punch can be very deceiving. It tastes fruity and delicious, but it can make you feel tipsy pretty quickly.
“Under the Counter” Grenada Rum
Next, Anthony brought out a gallon jug. It was filled with a clear liquid and had a ton of spices stuffed inside. This is what the locals call “under the counter” Grenada rum. It’s a homemade mixture that’s extremely popular.
Basically, the alcohol is called under the counter because it isn’t displayed on any signs or postings at the bar. It’s also called “bush rum” because it used to be made illegally behind bushes. It’s not exactly legal or regulated either. However, it’s so common place and popular that the local authorities aren’t going to try to stop the sale of it.
Under the counter is created out of a high proof locally made white rum, often “overproof” rum. At 140 proof or higher (over 70% alcohol), you can only really try this stuff on the island itself. You can’t bring any home with you on an airplane. There are airline regulations that forbid overproof rum because it packs such a powerful punch that the bottles could explode in transit!
Thankfully, for those who do want to bring a bottle home, the distilleries manufacture one that is 138 proof with 1% less alcohol (69% alcohol). This means that it’s just legal enough to bring back home with you.
How to Drink Under the Counter Grenada Rum
Every local establishment or bar that carries under the counter has their own special version of it. You’ll see various seeds, twigs, nuts, and spices all floating around inside a big glass jug. The spices are all freshly grown on the island, naturally. I’m not sure what makes the under the counter at Mark’s Sports Bar different from the others, but I’m glad that I got to try it.
There’s a method to drinking under the counter Grenada rum. It’s so strong that it can cause damage to your throat! So, you need to sip a little bit of the alcohol and hold it in your mouth for a few moments. Then, drink some water and swish everything around in your mouth before you swallow it. This helps you to taste all of the spices, and you need to water down this alcohol before drinking it.
Rum Producers in Grenada
There are currently three rum distilleries in Grenada and two additional rum makers. The companies that do not distill their own rum tend to purchase and blend other rums to sell under their own labels.
River Antoine Estate Rum Distillery
The River Antoine Estate Distillery is the oldest Grenada rum distillery, established in 1785. It also has the oldest functioning water mill in all of the Caribbean. It’s a fascinating place to go for a tour, especially to witness the history of the place. Beginning centuries ago, a nearby river powered a water mill that crushes sugar cane from the surrounding fields.
This rum distillery operates just as it did over the past hundreds of years. The fermentation processes are completely natural without any pasteurization or added yeast. You can buy two different strengths: one is 75% ABV (the kind we sampled in our “under the counter” spiced concoction at Mark’s Sports Bar) and a 69% ABV that’s possible for tourists to bring home.
You can book a tour at the River Antoine Distillery to see the property and taste this Grenada rum, too. This is the most popular distillery that tourists visit when they come to Grenada. There aren’t any other rum distilleries in the Caribbean that still utilize these old methods of production.
Renegade Rum Distillery
Renegade Rum Distillery has been a project in the making for several years now. They’ve finally started to produce Renegade Rum in September 2020. To start, the owners of Renegade Rum founded an agricultural company, CaneCo, to reintroduce several varieties of sugar cane to Grenada. Sugar cane used to be widely grown across Grenada, but this has dissipated over the years after hurricanes wiped out farms.
Most rum is made from molasses, and Renegade Rum uses sugar cane for their rum. They’re calling it a “terroir-driven” rum. “Terroir” relates to the interaction between the soil, microclimate, and the plant or vine. They’ve planted several types of sugar cane based on the various microclimates and soil around Grenada. Therefore, a terroir-driven rum is one that has a close connection to the traceability of the ingredients and its integrity.
Renegade Rum is just getting started. We’ll have to wait and see how it will be possible to sample this Grenada rum or even take a tour of the facilities someday.
Grenada Distillers Ltd.
Grenada Distillers Ltd are the makers of Clarke’s Court rum, and they are the largest distillery in Grenada. It was established in 1937. Grenada Distillers makes both aged and unaged rum, and their top of the line rum is the #37 Blend, aged for 12 years. They also make an overproofed white rum (Clarke’s Court Pure White) and an aged variety called Old Grog. You can find these in the shops around Grenada.
It’s also possible to take a tour of the facilities and sample the rum on site. There are some old steam engines used in the early days of production that are well over 100 years old. The distillery tour lasts about 15 minutes, and then you’ll be able to sample their products at the bar.
Westerhall Estate is a Grenada rum distillery that started production in the mid-1800s, initially for export only. In 1996, they stopped distilling their own rum and started purchasing rum to blend and sell. They sell aged and unaged varieties, including their high end vintage rum that’s aged for at least 10 years.
Eastern Caribbean Rum Company
The Eastern Caribbean Rum Company is a small Grenada rum company that buys and blends rum. Then, it’s sold as Cannes Brulees and Cannes Royal for local sale and export. They describe themselves as craft producers of small batch, artisanal rum.
It’s made in small batches of 1000 liters or less. There may be slight variations between batches, but they focus on creating high quality rum.
More Things to Do in Grenada
Besides drinking Grenada rum, there are so many more things to do and see on this gorgeous island. One place that you need to see is Grand Etang National Park and Grand Etang Lake. I also recommend relaxing at some of Grenada’s famous beaches like Grand Anse Beach.
There’s also snorkeling and diving excursions, learning and tasting all of the spices, and witnessing the beauty of several waterfalls dotted around Grenada. If you want a great overview of the island, I suggest booking this half day tour of Grenada. And please take a look at our blog post about all of the best things to do in Grenada.
Where to Stay in Grenada
There are so many fantastic places to stay in Grenada for a memorable tropical island getaway. Here are our top picks for every budget.
Luxury Hotel: Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel
The Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel in Saint George’s, Grenada, provides that wow factor in a getaway to paradise. You’ll get the celebrity treatment at this highly rated hotel. There’s an outdoor swimming pool, a high end spa, and Grand Etang National Park is only a 20 minute drive away. Breakfast on your balcony overlooking lush gardens…doesn’t that sound good right about now?
You can read more reviews of the Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel written by guests who have stayed there and experienced the resort.
Mid-Range Hotel: Petit Anse Hotel
Petit Anse Hotel is a mid-range accommodation with tons of modern amenities and stunning waterfront scenery. Every room has views of the sea, and there’s also a tropical garden and a swimming pool. It’s a beautiful property that you’ll surely love, and it’s at a fraction of the price compared to other resorts.
You can read more reviews of the Petit Anse Hotel written by guests who have stayed there and fully experienced the hotel.
Airbnbs in Grenada
If you prefer to have your own apartment or share a home, there are lots of Airbnb accommodations in Grenada. You might be able to find an even better deal on Airbnb with the chance to have a unique travel experience. Browse the map below to find an Airbnb that’s right for you.
Lauren is the full-time travel blogger and content creator behind Justin Plus Lauren. She started Justin Plus Lauren in 2013 and has travelled to 45+ countries around the world. Lauren is an expert on vegan travel as one of the very first vegan travel bloggers. She also focuses on outdoor adventure travel, eco and sustainable travel, and creating amazing travel itineraries for cities and small towns.