St. Nicholas Abbey 10 Year Old

SNA 10 Bottle, Box & Barrel-Bob Davies

Product of:  Barbados
Aged:  Single barrel aged 10 years
Price: $70
Alcohol: 40% ABV 
Sugar:  0-5 g/L (estimate) 
Context: Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating:  10

Tasting Notes 
Extremely Smooth.  St. Nicholas Abbey shows a beautiful light mahogany color, perhaps not fully representing its 10 years in oak, but certainly indicating that of no color was added.  Take your time sniffing St. Nicholas Abbey – after all, creating the perfect rum takes time. St. Nicholas Abbey‘s elegant, deeply layered aromas deliver the best aspects of Bajan rums, and compare favorably with the world’s very best rums, anywhere.  Plunge yourself into its immensely deep aromas of woody dry molasses and the vegetal pungency that you smell only in the best fermentation rooms.  Revel in the slightly waxy, teak-like aromatics, subtle tropical spice and mango, damp jungle atmospherics, burnt leather, and sweet fresh dried tobacco.  The initial taste is miraculous; an elegant combination of rich flavor built on a mediumweight body, with measured caramel and just enough sweet alcohol to add a pungent foundation for delivering a mildly oaky, delicious vanilla texture, with soft new leather.  Every aroma you sensed is expressed physically on your palate with the first sip. A finish that is long and balanced from beginning to end with slightly sweet caramel before ending perfectly dry and satisfying.

SNA Still-R.Burr

Anecdotes 
St. Nicholas Abbey rum is currently distilled in column and pot stills from fermented molasses at the Foursquare Distillery in the parish of St. Phillip, southern Barbados.  The spirit is sent up island to the St. Nicholas Abbey estate, near Cherry Tree Hill in the parish of St. Peter, where the higher altitude, more humid climate, and acres of mahogany trees impart unique characteristics over the 10 years of oak barrel aging and maturation.

Larry Warren pouring-Bob Davies

At St. Nicholas Abbey, Hand Crafted care is applied to every facet of their exquisite rum.  Near-fanatical attention to detail marks every step of the artful process.  Barrel aging is done on premises, in full view inside the tasting room.  Bottles are first sandblasted by hand to render a distinctive woodcut-like sketch of the plantation’s signature 350 year old Jacobean mansion into the glass, and are then filled with rum by hand.  Each natural cork stopper is topped with a cap cut from mahogany grown on the estate, and a leather coin embossed with a stylish “SNA” logo is inserted in a recess in the cap.  Impressive stuff.  When I stared incredulously at the identical rotational position of each cap in every bottle as they were aligned for final packaging, the woman applying the labels simply said: “Perfection is what you give and get when you work for an architect”.  

Owner, distiller, architect, perfectionist and wonderful guy; St. Nicholas Abbey’s owner Mr. Larry Warren does everything to a higher level.   We common folk can only approach his humble, certain genius by treating ourselves to his perfect rum.  Mr. Warren is also developing rum distilling on premises from sugar cane harvested on the St. Nicholas Abbey plantation. 

His treasured copper pot and stainless column still “Annabelle” is a centerpiece of the estate tour, and is a sight to behold.  No doubt the finished output from that engine will author another stunning chapter in St. Nicholas Abbey’s incredibly rich history.  I sampled an as-yet immature three year old rum produced by that still in November 2010, and I can hardly wait for nature and Warren to combine their artistic talents to finishing that rum.

Note: For an erudite review of the Saint Nicholas Abbey distillery from my fellow RumXP, see Robert Burr’s Gifted Rum Guide at examiner.com.

Even prettier SNA bottles-M ike Streeter

Update October 2011:  St. Nicholas Abbey 10 year old rum is no longer available.  The distillery began bottling their delicious 12 and 8 year old rums in 2011.  I sampled both of these bottlings while visiting the Abbey in October 2011 and found them both to be up to the distilleries exemplary standards.  There’s more to learn about St. Nicholas Abbey by visiting the reviews of their 12 Year Old and 8 Year Old rum, as well as a Photo Tour of the distillery.

Opinion 
I could be happy simply sniffing a glass of St. Nicholas Abbey without ever taking a sip.  Well, almost!  So enticing are the aromas, that prolonging your first taste is a pleasant torment.  Sniff as long as you want, the aromas will be there even after your done sipping.  Thank you Larry Warren, for producing one of the world’s finest rums. 

Reviewed: November 2010 at the St. Nicholas Abbey distillery while attending the Caribbean Rum and Beer Festival on Barbados. 

© Dave Russell 2017