Callwood Distillery, Cane Garden Bay - Tortola
There are few industries in the BVI other than yacht charters, resort vacations and financial services ... but the art of brewing rum is still alive and well in the British Virgin Islands!
The Callwood Distillery in Cane Garden Bay, Tortola is one of two distilleries in the British Virgin Islands. The other is located at Foxy's bar and Restaurant on Jost Van Dyke.
Although it is unknown exactly how old the distillery might be, the style of stone and brick architecture, widely used by the British, would suggest that it dates back to the mid 1700's ... or thereabouts. The distillery has been in the Callwood family since sometime around the late 1800's, and today, is run by Michael Callwood and his family.
Traditional, if somewhat archaic methods are employed to brew and distill the rum, which is made from pure sugar cane rather than molasses which is the typical method. According to Michael, using sugar juice in its pure form and without adding any preservatives, is a preemptive strike against hangovers! Many claims are made about the medicinal effects Callwood's Rum can produce too, but as there aren't any scientific studies offered as proof, we'll just have to take Michael's word for it!
The raw canes of sugar seen in the photo above, are processed through a press mill where the sugar juice is squeezed out into copper pots and boiled. Once the brew has been boiled down sufficiently, water is added and fermented in oak barrels for approximately ten days ... give or take.
The fermented liquid is then boiled again, producing alcohol. The brew is slowly cooled in coiled, copper tubing and then stored for about 4 years. Large glass bottles known as demijohn's are used for storing the white rum, while oak barrels are used for Callwood's amber elixir.
In the late 1800's, a buccaneer named Richard Callwood (who owned Little Thatch Island) bought the Arundel Estate in Cane Garden Bay for his son, Richard Jr. The estate included what has become known as the Callwood Distillery. Michael is the 4th generation of Callwood's operating the British Virgin Islands brewery. The photo below was taken on the Ridge Road, Tortola, directly in front of the Arundel Villas. The land upon which the villas are situated were once part of the original Arundel estate.
Contact: Michael Callwood
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Launched August 15, 2004 - Last Updated: January 27, 2014