The Cruzan Rum Distillery is without question one of
the top attractions in the
U.S. Virgin Islands. It"s centrally located on the
island of St Croix, helping
to give testament to the island's sugar-rich history.
There was a time when sugar production was the main industry
on St Croix, and as any rum aficionado knows, sugar is
a key ingredient. Today, tourism has very much replaced
sugar as the top St Croix industry, but that doesn't
mean that sugar is forgotten. At places like the Cruzan
Rum factory, you can see just how integral it was, and
still is, and as you tour the
rest of the island, the surviving plantations should help
to give further insight into the large role that sugar
played in St Croix's development.
The Cruzan Rum Distillery has been making quality rum since 1760, so it's safe to say that they know what they are doing. In fact, many rum connoisseurs will tell you that the rum produced here is the best in the world. Don't tell Jamaica or Cuba that, though. Perhaps when doing a bit of shopping in the Virgin Islands, you might add a bottle of Virgin Islands rum to the list. As you savor it back home, you'll surely conjure up memories of your amazing United States Virgin Islands vacation. Eight generations of Nelthropp family members have been handcrafting Cruzan Rum since the factory opened, so you can be sure that great care goes into the product. The Nelthropp family uses what is known as a “five-column” distillation procedure, which helps to make their rums extra clean and smooth. Pure tropical rainwater is used in the process, which helps to give the rum a unique identity. After being distilled, Cruzan Rums are aged in oak barrels for a variety of time periods, which helps to encourage a rich and robust finish. The longer the rum ages in the barrel, the richer and more expensive it will be.
You can arrange a guided Cruzan Rum tour if you please, which is the best way to learn all about the factory. These tours start in the visitor's center, and among the highlights is a visit to the distillery's old windmill. Windmills used to keep the factory going before the implementation of electricity. You'll also get to watch barrel makers ("coopers") at work. These coopers employ the same tactics as those who came centuries before them, which is quite a neat thing. Of course, seeing how rum is actually made is a large part of the Cruzan Rum tour. After you enjoy your Cruzan Rum tour, you might top it off with a complimentary mixed drink, should you please. Duty free Cruzan Rum can be purchased in the factory's gift shop, as can tasty Cruzan Rum Cakes. If you're really a Cruzan Rum fan, t-shirts and hats can also serve as reminders of your Cruzan Rum Distillery visit.
It's always a good idea to make prior reservations if you plan on dropping in on the Cruzan Rum factory for a tour. Tours are available Monday through Friday, and they are offered from 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m., and from 1 p.m.- 4:15 p.m. The Cruzan Rum Distillery tours last about half an hour, and they are quite affordable, so you won't have to worry about putting a large dent in your travel budget should you swing by. Kids are allowed to tour the facilities, though you might opt for some of the other St Croix attractions first if the little ones in your group are less than 9 years old. Surely the St Croix beaches are always a top consideration. Parking is available at the distillery if you are renting a car, though should you over-indulge in some Cruzan Rum drinks, you might opt to find another way home. Your small admission price will allow for a sip of at least a dozen different Cruzan rum drinks, not to mention the complimentary beverage at the end, so you can definitely get a wee-bit tipsy if you're not careful. Of course, if you're not driving, that's all just part of the fun!