St. Nicholas Abbey 12 Year Old

St. Nicholas Abbey 12 year old

Product of:  Barbados
Aged: 12 years in single barrel 
Price: $90
Alcohol: 40% ABV 
Sugar:  0-5 g/L (estimate) 
Context: Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating:  10

Tasting Notes 
Extremely Smooth.  St. Nicholas Abbey 12 Year Old starts on beautiful note and contiues to impress. Twelve long years aging in used American oak bourbon barrels produces a rum of deep golden honey/brown sugar color that’s so rich you could gaze through it for hours.  An ever-so-slight green ring appears at the edge where the rum contacts your glass, another characteristic of prolonged aging.

Pull the wood capped cork and aromas waft out like a genie from a magic lantern.  Supple tanned leather, mild tropical fruit (mango, banana), smoky wood, caramel, subtle vanilla, coconut and nutmeg are layered so harmoniously and deep that it’s difficult to sense where one ends and the other begins.  I don’t want this to end. OK, enough salivating, sip darn it.   

Tasting St.Nicholas Abbey’s 12 year old rum is a rapture of perfectly balanced aged rum flavors.  Every aroma is presented in the taste, yet not analytically, but artistically as a singular whole experience.  Give in to the rum, simply enjoying how its medium weight body supports the flavors.  It’s not so viscous as to to coat your tongue, rather the rum’s texture allows it to spread evenly before finishing long and dry with a lingering leather, caramel and vanilla.  

SNA 8 & 12-N.Feris

Note the difference between St. Nicholas Abbey's 8 year old (bottle at left in the picture) versus their 12 year old.  What a color difference four more years aging in oak makes. (N.Feris photo.)

Anecdotes
It’s worth visiting the rum temple known as St. Nicholas Abbey simply to bask in its hallowed aging grounds.  While visiting, damn the expense and buy as much rum as you can cart home.  Tour he restored Jacobean Mansion, one of a very few that are still standing from the period some 350 years after King James I briefly influenced British architecture.  The estate is located in the Parish of St. Peter at a relatively high altitude area of Northern Barbados, surrounded by a hardwood forest. No doubt the location’s microclimate contributes to the unique aromas and flavors of St. Nicholas Abbey rums. 

The Abbey’s grounds make it plainly apparent how wealthy sugar plantation owners lived in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries when sugar, molasses, and rum expanded into a cornerstone of world trade.  St. Nicholas Abbey is a living museum.  Restored stone buildings house the distillery’s operations. Cane fields line the estate on all sides.  Monkeys are seen occasionally in the trees, while wild tropical birds roam the grounds.  Or do nothing more than sit outside, have one of their delicious rum punches, a flying fish sandwich, and marvel at the fortune of your life.  No visit to Barbados is complete without a tour of the Abbey.

SNA Mansion Hi-Med

There’s more to learn about St. Nicholas Abbey by visiting the reviews of their 8 Year Old and 10 Year Old (discontinued) rum, as well as a Photo Tour of the distillery.

Opinion 
In a word:  Perfect.  
Need more?  St. Nicholas Abbey 12 year old rum is a masterpiece. SNA 12 is one of those handful of perfect rums that are so delicious and intoxicatingly rich it is difficult to focus my thoughts on describing the wonder of its appeal.  Even now, my words are barely adequate, and more prose doesn’t approach the beauty of this rum. 

Reviewed: October 2011 and February 2012 at St. Nicholas Abbey on Barbados.

© Dave Russell 2017