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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bushy’s Bulk Rum By the Gallon

Bushy's service station outside Jolly Harbour Antigua.

Bulk rum?  We were intrigued by a place described in our guidebook as “bring your jugs and they’ll fill them,” even though it also said “for hardened drinkers.”  Why the heck not?  As long as it was cheap enough and we could try it before we bought. 

Confession:  I was intrigued and managed to talk Wayne into it, though initially he was convinced it would be a wild goose chase.  We’ve had a few.  The boxed white “Agricole” rum he’d bought in Martinique I considered undrinkable* and Wayne finally finished. 

Pretty basic, but that's part of the
adventure. In any case, we knew
we came to the right place for rum.
*I am not alone in my dislike for white “Agricole” rum. One of our cruiser friends, Kim Dickenson of Bella Blue, asked if the Agricole was made of grass.  Nope, just really high Everclear-like alcohol levels (okay not quite that high my chemist husband insists) in the French signature style.

Besides, we were in Jolly Harbour, which seemed like a dandy namesake for just this kind of endeavor.

Our guidebook instructed “Go the main road and turn left.… It’s across from the service station out of town.” We weren’t sure what the main road was. We weren’t how far out of town it was.  We weren’t even sure this place still existed, a not uncommon fate of businesses mentioned in our guidebook.  We were parked at a customs dock and didn’t want to overstay our welcome there, and still had a food provisioning stop to make. After a lot of asking around, off we went.

Again, nothing fancy....
Along the way we hopped a local bus, though in retrospect figure we could’ve walked the whole distance, one way, in 20-30 minutes. We knew we came to the right place when we saw a glass display case with motor oil and booze outside.  The building also housed the town post office.

Inside on the shelves behind the counter were more bottles of motor oil and gallon jugs of “no name” booze as well as fifths of gin and half gallons and a couple other liquors.  “Can I help you? almost imperiously asked a trim, mildly grizzled older gent behind the counter.

“We’re here to buy your bulk rum; we heard about it in our guide book.  Can we try it first?”

Did I mention nothing fancy?  But Bushy
definitely knows his stuff. His rum
is very good... and very cheap.
Bushy (or John, but “everyone calls me bushy”) grabbed a glass gallon jug of dark “matured” rum and a glass and poured in a quick splash.  I’m guessing if I wanted to taste it, he must have assumed I was not interested in the white Agricole variety, as he had jugs of that as well.

“This is really good!” I exclaimed, meaning it truly.  It was smooth, yet flavorful and hearty [undoubtedly I’ll develop a better and more descriptive spirits vocabulary!].  I like it better than Cavalier.”

“Been making this stuff for 17 years.  I’m the only one doing it myself here in Southern Antigua,” Bushy said, with a sort of quiet pride.

“How much?” we asked, pulling out our two empty half-gallon plastic jugs of Cavalier rum.

“$40 EC,”  Bushy replied.

That’s about $13 USD for a gallon on good, sip-worthy rum, a couple buck less than Cavalier, and we like it better.  My only regret?  We weren’t in such a rush and could buy more.

“We’ll take it!”

Out came the funnel and away Bushy poured, sending us off with five juicy-sweet Caribbean limes as a surprise.

We’re saving some Cavalier as a blind taste test with some other cruisers, whenever our next as yet unplanned sundowner happens.  The challenge will be making sure we save some of Bushy’s rum that long, too.