Under The Counter

UTC-Grenada

Product of:  West Indies
Aged:  NA
Price: $10 - $20*
Alcohol: 35% - 150%+ ABV 
Sugar: varies widely
Context: Flavored/Spiced Rum
RG Rating:  0-8 (Location)

Tasting Notes 
Varies from Very Smooth to Wretched Smooth.
Color:  From Pale straw to scary inky black.
Aromas: range from distinctly Earthy to Maudlin
Initial taste:  If there is a single defining flavor characteristic, it is immediate, with forward herbs and spices, and often burdened with a high-test heady unaged alcohol bite.  Once you’re past that phase, flavors range from nectar-sweet to sickening.
Body: Medium-lightweight
Finish:  Anywhere from syrupy smooth and enticing, to choking harsh.

UTC-Dennery Overlook-St. Lucia

Anecdotes 
I’ve spent considerable time and miles sampling wonderful and uniquely homemade Under the Counter rums from French St. Martin in the Caribbean Leeward islands, to the Windward islands of St. Lucia, Union, and Grenada. And I’ve experienced something so purposefully negatively off-the-charts on St. Lucia that you’d have to see it to believe it.  [See Sidebar].  As Dorothy said about her trip to the Land of Oz:  “…and most of it was wonderful!”  The best places I’ve found to sample Under The Counter include the little roadside bar overlooking the fishing village of Dennery on St. Lucia (pictured below); Park East bar on Union Island, to which the very strong base rum is added turtle penis, among other more savory spices and twigs, Sunset View restaurant on Grenada, which serves a nice herbal concoction, and the iconiic melting pot known as Garfield’s Bar on Grand Anse Beach, Grenada, which serves a strong rum-based elixer whose primary spice is the legendary bois bandé tree.

UTC for Poison 1

Opinion 
Sometimes it’s proudly displayed on top of the counter, but just as often it’s hidden away, reserved for locals or tourists like me who are savvy enough to know where to look and ask for it by name.  Under the Counter isn’t just one rum, as each island, or individual, creates their own version.  Rum’s about the only thing these concoctions have in common. Ingredients are consistently organic, ranging from the mundane spices (clove, cinnamon, bay leaf, chenytwef, bois bandé) to the macabre (spiders, insects and caterpillars - Oh my!).  Flavors correspond as you might imagine; a few Under the Counter rums are delicious, some are magic potions to enhance lovemaking or cure any ailment, including the hangover you get from drinking too much of it, and one is downright horrible.  My advice?  Ask for it anytime you’re in a local Caribbean rum shop.  It’s guaranteed to be different at every place you stop. 

Under The Counter, Out of the Ordinary

UTC for Poion revealed

I heard about some incredible stuff from friends as far separated as Antigua and the Grenadines, so I can’t say I wasn’t warned.  But seek it I did, requesting a trusted friend on St. Lucia to find me a bottle of the elusive version of Under The Counter that contains insects and the things those critters live on. That St. Lucia mix was the devil’s own work, with flavors purposely developed to make you hurl up any poison you had ingested – quickly and violently.  No amount of mixing it with any soda, juice or fine rum could cut its disgusting taste.  Of course, one look at a black caterpillar as big as my finger staring back at me under the screw cap was warning enough for what would soon transpire.  Honestly folks, I don’t make this stuff up.  (See the contents displayed on the dinner plate at right.)  I guess the most positive thing I can say about the St. Lucia bug juice is that only seriously sick rum collectors would want to posses this stuff.  Count me in.

Reviewed: all over the Caribbean from 2008 to the present – the search never ends.

*Bottle size and type varies, but is most often a previously used, and perhaps washed, glass rum or water bottle. 

© Dave Russell 2017