Origin: River Antoine Estate, Tivoli, Grenada
Finish: Neutral vessel
"Don't say rum, say Rivers!"
That is the motto of the River Antoine Estate, the producer of Rivers Royale Grenadian Rum, which is beloved on Grenada. The estate was founded all the way back in 1785, and has been pumping out rum ever since; in fact, they have more-or-less been producing rum in the same way for over 175 years. This doesn't necessarily mean using the same source material, still, or fermentation practices, either: Rivers has been and continues to produce rum without the use of electricity.
River Antoine grows most of its sugar cane organically on the estate grounds, crushes the cane using a waterwheel-powered mill, and produces rum by heating their pot still over an open flame powered by locally harvested wood. According to Modern Caribbean Rum, fermentation of the cane juice is spontaneous and may take up to 8 days.
Once fermentation is complete and distillation finishes, the resulting rum is bottled by hand at two different strengths: 69% ABV– which is what we get in the USA– and 75% ABV, which is for consumption on Grenada. La Maison & Velier worked with Rivers Antoine to release this rum at the former strength outside the island.
Clear, high clarity, low viscosity
Gherkin brine, wet grass clippings, pineapple rind, fresh-cut sugarcane, vanilla extract, bell peppers
Sugarcane juice, olive brine, pineapple, papaya, serrano pepper, vanilla frosting, saltwater
Long, fruity, briny, spicy; burnt sugarcane, brine, hot peppers, saltwater, green olives
Even after having tasted a good number of sugarcane juice-based rums, Rivers stands out among them as one of my favorites– and the highest proof. It has a funk that is distinct from rhum agricoles, and is briny but unique relative to Paranubes. Rivers is hot, but yet still incredibly enjoyable, with a sweet-and-savory signature.
This unaged rum is completely clear, with high clarity and low viscosity.
On the nose, I get an initial whiff of Gherkin pickle brine, wet grass clippings, gritty and bitter pineapple rind, and fresh-cut sugarcane. A semi-sweet vanila extract and note of bell peppers is detectable with a little searching. Really nice nose with a lot of character. However, it's pretty hot, so quick sniffs are necessary in order to not overwhelm the senses.
The Rivers palate offers sugarcane juice, olive brine, and pineapple on the overture. Very nice balance of savory, spicy, and sweet. The flavors continue on with papaya, spicy serrano peppers, vanilla frosting, and a slightly bitter saltwater note. These flavors may sound a little disparate and wild, but they really do work together quite well, and showcase the unique terroir of the River Anotine Estate.
The finish is long, fruity, briny, and spicy. Notes of burnt sugarcane, brine, hot peppers, saltwater, and green olives permeate the finish.
While this is not a rum I would suggest cracking open to introduce a newcomer to the category, Rivers is absolutely is a must-try rum for those who appreciate cane juice-based rum.