Trinidad & Tobago
On each of his voyages of discovery, Columbus sailed further south to explore more of the New World. As he approached the South American continent the easterly trade winds diminished while the equatorial current and water from the Amazon River carried his ships northward. When he sailed into the Serpent's Mouth, the astute observer and navigator concluded he was entering a large bay. The three mountain peaks on his starboard side could only be an island to the north.
In the calm waters of the Gulf, the sailors sounded drums in hopes of bringing the native inhabitants to the shore in a festive mood. Instead, the Indians interpreted the noise as a sign of war and forced the intruders to move on. Not until 1532 did the first Spanish conquistador, Don Antonio Sedeno, come ashore at the Amerindian fishing village of Cumucarapo, now Mucarapo.
In the following century, the fertile land attracted European planters. This new development also drew French corsairs to the nearly helpless, heavily-laden, cargo ships as they made their way north in the light air around the islands and narrow passes, or Bocas, which lead to the Caribbean Sea. The difficulty of navigating under sail in characteristically light winds contributed to the slow development of Trinidad. Finally, in May of 1796, the H.M.S. Lebra came to Trinidad to rid the small islands near the Bocas of the troublesome corsairs. Under the protection of the British Crown, trade began to increase.
A few miles northeast of Trinidad, on neighboring Tobago, cocoa, tobacco, cotton, and sugar cane were cultivated by Dutch, French, English, and Courlander planters. Pirates, privateers, and the navies of the European powers sought to control its wealth. In Europe, "rich as a Tobago planter" was the badge of success. By the end of the 18th century, sugar cane dominated this small island that produced a half million gallons of rum in 1793.
After an overnight sail from Grenada, I arrived at Chaguaramas to clear customs and immigration. During the formalities, I stated the purpose for my visit: research the rum made in Trinidad and Tobago. The efficient immigration officer looked me straight in the eye and firmly directed me, "Beware the Puncheon."
"Beware the Puncheon." she repeated the admonishment. Without a clue what she was talking about, I vowed that I would, "Beware the Puncheon." Whatever she was talking about, this was a warning to heed.
- There are 4 sugar cane spirit distillers in this database from Trinidad & Tobago.
- 10 Cane Moet Hennessy
- Angostura Ltd
- Caroni Distillers (1975) Ltd
- Trinidad Distillers Ltd