Chairman’s Reserve Original (750ml)
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Like many modern Carribean distilleries, St. Lucia Distillers traces its origins to the sugar crisis the region experienced as South and Central America undercut the raw sugar trade in the Carribean through the bulk export of sugar beets. While on-site house rum production was once common, by the 1950s only two distilleries remained on St. Lucia: the Dennery distillery owned by the Bernard family and the Roseau distillery owned by the Geest family. The two joined forces in 1972 to keep St. Lucia distilling alive and moved all operations to the Roseau facility.
While both families have since sold their shares in the distillery, with Laurie Bernard stayed on as Managing Director until his passing in 2012, the project has flourished with greater resources and a more international mindset. The Chairman’s lineup is a nod to third generation rum-maker, Laurie Bernard, who was Chairman in 1999 when it was first conceived and blended.
Chairman’s Reserve has a nose of brandy-soaked raisins, dried mango slices, bananas, vanilla and espresso. The palate is spicier and woodier than the nose with obvious caramel, sweet oak, tobbaco box, and a peppery kick on the finish. Certainly enjoyable on its own though some may prefer to mellow it slightly with an ice cube. Where this rum truly shines is in cocktails from a humble cuba libre, a daquiri, or even a twist on a mint julep.
Due to the lack of sugar cane on St. Lucia, most of the high quality molasses for Chairman’s Reserve is imported from Guyana or the Dominican Republic although the distillery still holds a few acres of sugarcane they use to enhance their blends. Remarkably, the molasses is delivered by ship and is pumped through a 12 inch pipe from the ship underwater onto the mainland and into St. Lucia Distillers storage tanks.
One of the most unique and interesting aspects of St. Lucia Distillers is their use of 4 distinct stills: a McMillan Coffey still, a 454 liter John Dore pot still, a vendome hybrid still, and a 6000 liter John Dore pot still all of which are mostly powered by recycled ship oil rather than purchased diesel.
This array of stills allows them to dial in various different flavour profiles and textures that can be used during blending. The various rums produced from their stills are aged separately in ex-bourbon barrels and in the case of Chairman’s Reserve for an average of 5 years prior to being blended and married in oak for an additional 6 months and bottled at 40% ABV.