Whistler’s doors opened last November, with a well-stocked bar, obviously. All who wander in during the open weekends at the end of each month will be offered a free welcome drink, a formal rum tasting, and a tour of the facilities.
The main attraction is the large squat still the trio have nicknamed Gigi, “Because she’s a stripper,” jokes Leon, who now distils rum full time. Gigi “strips” the sugar beet of every form of alcohol — ethanol, methanol “and every other ‘nol’ you can imagine” — and turns it into rum.
Like all things of passion, there’s no head needed here, it’s the heart that forms the base of one of the distillery’s main offerings: be it the butterscotch-heavy heart, which, along with a spice mix, is transformed into the Spiced Rum that is fun, light and packs a punch of cinnamon; or the second heart, whose deep caramel and grassy tones go on to become the Dark Rum that, as the name suggests, is deep and moody: a well-rounded classic with a citrus twist.
The walk-through is fun, scientific and interesting. And, of course, so it the tasting. You are taught how to warm and smell the notes in the glass and guided through which notes lie in wait on your palate. Whistler Spiced with a slice of lime paired with white chocolate is a winner. But the most perfect of mixes? Drinking bespoke cocktails mixed by a man simply known as Kantoor, a former political journalist and now assistant distiller, outside while watching karaoke.
“We called it Whistler because we like to do things differently. It is rum for people who like to whistle their own tune,” Leon says. And who doesn’t, really.