It comes as a surprise to many but America and rum have a long, deep history together – so long and deep, in fact, that rum might very well have become America’s drink over whiskey, had the vagaries of history been a little kinder to the industry.
Rum was invented in 17th century West Indies and caught on quickly in the American colonies, because it was so cheap and easy to make, with cane sugar or molasses as its base. At its peak in 1770, America’s colonies were importing six million gallons of molasses from the Caribbean a year – most of which was distilled into rum.
International politics are often behind the winds of change. When the British limited our access to cheap molasses in the early 19th century, America’s rum industry fell into a steep decline while whiskey, sourced from America’s near-bottomless grain resources, replaced it as the nation’s drink.
Yet rum left its mark on America. In Rhode Island, ghosts of our original, 22 distilleries abound in street names, boat names, popular cocktails, and other nods to our country’s rum-distilling past are still in evidence. Thus, in 2006, when the team at Coastal Extreme Brewing (aka The Newport Storm Brewery) decided to start a Newport rum distillery, the fit seemed natural.
Named after a 17th century privateer and pirate who sailed out of both Rhode Island and Bermuda, Thomas Tew Single Barrel rum put Newport Distilling Co. on the map as the first licensed distillery in Rhode Island in 135 years.
Newport Distilling produced the first batch of Thomas Tew Single Barrel rum in 2008 and, due to the long aging process, was distributed in-state for the first 7 years. Now, however, Thomas Tew Rum is proud to be distributed across the US. Newport Distilling has resurrected the rum of the 18th century by using the same methods, equipment, and ingredients as the distillers in Thomas Tew’s time did.
Thomas Tew Single Barrel rum made in a pot still, which produces a more robust rum that is then aged in oak barrels, producing a drier, smokier, full-bodied, dark amber rum with hints of spice, caramel, molasses, and oak.
Best of all, you can visit the brewery/distillery and see how it is done, first hand, with a Newport Distillery tour and tasting!
Available Sundays through Thursdays, from 12pm to 5pm, and Friday through Saturday, from 12pm to 6pm, a Newport Distillery tour and tasting will provide you with the chance to taste Thomas Tew Single Barrel Rum during all three stages of the aging process and a keepsake Thomas Tew Single Barrel Rum tasting glass.
While guided tours are only available once a day at 3pm, self-guided tours can be enjoyed any time during open hours with views of the distillery from our tour deck and detailed information on our historic distilling process. For more information, be sure to visit the Newport Distillery website, listed below.
Newport Distillery Tour and Tasting
Newport Distilling Co., 293 JT Connell Rd, Newport, RI
Newport Distillery Lodging
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