Anchor Distilling

English Harbour Rum

St. John’s, Antigua

Aged expressions of rum by the distillery that brought rum production back to Antigua in 1932

Early Rum Production In Antigua

Antiguan rum dates back to the early 1700s, with records showing sales to the United States, or what would become the United States, in the 1720s. English colonists settled Antigua in 1632, laying the foundations for slavery and an economy based on sugar production. Native Indians were too susceptable to European diseases and the ills of the rigorous work, so African slaves were brought in to work the sugar plantations, eventually outnumbering white residents nearly ten to one. In 1807, Britain abolished slavery, and all Antiguan slaves were emancipated by the early 1830s. Portuguese workers were brought in to replace the freed slaves, but these workers soon left to work in other capacities, such as trading and cotton production. No stable sugar workforce existed, causing the sugar industry to disappear from Antigua, and rum production disappeared with it.

A New Chapter For Antiguan Rum

Although rum production had ceased on Antigua, the locals still had a taste for it, leading to the establishment of "rum shops". Rum shops would import rums from Barbados and concoct their own blends using different rums and spices. The blends would carry colorful brand names, such as Red Cock and Silver Leaf, and customers would bring in their own bottles to be filled. Rum shops still exist today, but are extremely rare as they became associated with drunkness over the years and traditional bars became more popular.

In 1932, a group of Portuguese rum shop owners joined together to create Antigua Distillery Ltd., initially producing rum under the Cavalier label. In 1993, the English Harbour brand was created, and with the launch of the five year old in 2001, aged rums became their focus.

English Harbour Rum Production

Sugar production remains absent on Antigua to this day, and English Harbour sources its molasses from the Dominican Republic and Guyana. The molasses is fermented for 24 to 36 hours in open-top fermenters using a mix of commercial and wild yeast. The wild yeast is an important part of the production process, bringing a light briny note to the rum influenced by the seaside location of the distillery.

A five-column continuous still is used for distillation, notable in that it is made from copper, one of only two copper continuous stills in the Caribbean. The column stills produce a lighter style of spirit that is full of character and intense in flavor. Maturation takes place in warehouses without temperature control using ex-bourbon and Tennessee whiskey barrels.


Products:

English Harbour 5 Year Old

English Harbour 10 Year Old
English Harbour 5 Year Old & 10 Year Old

Molasses is fermented for 24 to 36 hours in open-top fermenters using a mix of commercial and wild yeast. A five-column continuous still is used for distillation, one of only two copper continuous stills in the Caribbean. The column stills produce a lighter style of spirit that is full of character and intense in flavor. Maturation takes place in warehouses without temperature control using ex-bourbon and Tennessee whiskey barrels.

Comparing the flavors of the English Harbour 5 year old to the 10 year old, the 5 year old is rounder with stronger fruit characteristics, and while it is a dry spirit, it has the sweet aromas of molasses complemented by orange rind and coconut. The 10 year old has more structure, with spices and balanced wood notes providing additional layers to the foundation established by the 5 year old. 40% ABV


English Harbour 5 Year Old
  • 91 Points - Ultimate Spirits Challenge, 2016
  • Double Gold Medal, Best Rum - WSWA Tasting Competition, 2016
  • Gold Medal, Best Rum In Show - New York World Wine & Spirits Competition, 2011

English Harbour 10 Year Old
  • Silver Medal - New York World Wine & Spirits Competition, 2012
  • ★★★★★ Highest Recommendation - F. Paul Pacult's Spirit Journal
English Harbour 1981
English Harbour Vintage 1981 25 Year Old

This single-vintage rum was laid down to mature in celebration of achieving independence from the United Kingdom in 1981. Forgotten over the years, some barrels of the 1981 rum were discovered in 1995 while moving between warehouses. While there were quite a few barrels of the 1981, more than 75% of the rum had evaporated. The rum was consolidated into the same barrels for another 10 years of aging. In 2004, the maturation peaked and the rum was transferred to a neutral stainless steel vat, where it remained until it was bottled. Because the stills at Antigua Distillery were reconditioned in 1991, this is the only remaining chance to taste an English Harbour rum expression from those original stills. 40% ABV

  • ★★★★★ Highest Recommendation - F. Paul Pacult's Spirit Journal
  • 96 – 100 Points, Classic - Wine Enthusiast