Our selection for April is an aged Caribbean rum, a young brand that looks back to the time when sail-rigged vessels dominated international trade. St Abbs Captain’s Table XO is a blend of rums from Guyana, Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica. St Abbs sources ten different marks, the rum-making term for a single distillate, from distilleries around the Caribbean. Each has been aged for a different time in ex-bourbon casks in the tropical heat, creating a variation of flavours, before they are shipped to Amsterdam for final mixing and maturing.
St Abbs rum was founded by David Owens and Matthew Norris, an Englishman and an Australian living in the Seychelles. David was there helping to set up a distillery on the Indian Ocean island paradise when he came across the story of the St Abbs shipwreck in a local museum and thought it would make a great spirits brand.
The three-masted full-rigged wooden vessel St Abbs was named after a village near the border between England and Scotland. It was launched from the ship yards of Sunderland in 1848, chartered to the East India Company. In 1855 the vessel set sail on a ten-month passage from London to Bombay with a cargo of Caribbean rum and municipal supplies for the Indian navy.
On 14th June, during the final leg of the journey, the ship struck a reef in the shallow waters of an atoll at the southern tip of the Seychelles archipelago. The vessel was ripped in two and the aft part of the ship, along with most of her crew, were never seen again. St Abbs’ fore part washed ahore, along with 100 barrels of rum. Only a handful of crew members ever made it safely home to England, among them the captain.
Curious stories emerged in the years following the shipwreck of distress calls carved on wood and leather, carried on ocean currents and washing up as far away as the East African coast. This sombre artwork was traded by curio vendors in African bazaars, spreading the tale of the St Abbs and her rum-soaked crew far and wide.