We start the tour off with this sign. It smells like alcohol around here, rubbing alcohol that you disinfect with. It’s strong and I want to pinch my nostrils together but I don’t think the locals or employees would like that very much. There’s a little girl, about 10 years old, that’s doing exactly that, and boy, do I envy her.
The tour guide walks us over to the water wheel where she tells us that sugar cane gets pressed for juice by the water pressure sent in from the river and the oceans. This is the original wheel that the British put in 200 years ago. Nifty.
A conveyer belt carries the cane up towards the machine which crushes the stalks for juice.
In the picture below, we have an employee inside the wheel grinder dislodging stray pieces of sugar cane which have gotten stuck in the grinder.
Check out the size of the nuts and bolts (left side of the man’s head) of this baby. This is the output of the machine. Pure sugar cane juice that looks very unappetizing.
When you take a look around the distillery all you see are used cane stalks. It’s everywhere. We’re told that these stalks are used to kindle the fire for the boiling process and fertilizer for the cane fields.
The cane juice then travels through PVC pipes into the boiling house.
There are a total of 4 tanks which boil the cane juice down to a syrup and to get it ready for the fermentation process. The guide tells us that the employees use a huge ladle to scoop out the syrup from tank to tank.
Once the syrup has cooled, they are pumped into the fermentation vats. In the old days, wooden barrels were used, but concrete vats are being used now. These vats are open top so the bacteria in the air moves the fermentation process along.
This is the view from up top. See that brownish sludge, that’s fermentation happening before your eyes. I saw the most disgusting thing too! There was a guy from our tour that stuck his scrawny little pinky in one of the vats and took a sample of the sludge. He took a quick sample and smacked his lips as if it was the best tasting slime he’s ever had. Yuck!
After fermentation, the cane juice will then go through the distillery. It gets boiled, goes through vaporization, and is then condensed back into water to become rum.
Once the juice has been distilled the rum gets tested for the alcohol content. Barometers are used to test the final product.
Once the rum has been tested, it goes into a vat that is locked and key. The factory then waits for an official of Grenada to come and test the rum again. There they will unlock the vat of rum and allow the plant to start bottling. The officials are the only ones which have keys to the vats so that they could keep track of the alcohol that has been produced for taxing purposes.
It takes 10 days, from pressing cane juice to distillery to make Rivers Rum. This is the final product. The two bottles to the left are flavored rums. One is spiced rum, the other is passionfruit flavored. The third bottle is 69% proof rum and the last bottle is 75% rum. They let people have samples if wanted.
When the tour guide asked if anyone wanted to try the 75 proof rum, the first person to raise their hand was a blonde girl about 21 years old. She took a swig of the rum and said it tastes like paint thinner and she could feel it going through you. I just don’t understand it all.
We were also told that Rivers Rum is only made and consumed for the people of Grenada. Apparently they can’t make enough rum for their own people.
On an entirely different note, this is lunch I made the other day for J. It was so bright and colorful that I wanted to share with all. I wish everyone could have a taste of the papaya and mangoes they have on the island, and to think, I didn’t like papaya not too long ago.