Grenada: Getting to grips with the Spice Isle's big three

Being so close to St Lucia and Barbados, Grenada is sometimes overlooked as a holiday destination, but no more. We're going to give you three very good reasons why you should visit the so called Spice Isle on top of its charming culture, beautiful beaches and intriguing past.

Grenada, getting to grips with the Spice Isle
Grenada, getting to grips with the Spice Isle © pkazmierczak -

With a nickname like the Spice Isle it's no surprise that Grenada is a leading producer of some seriously exotic fare. Read on to find out more about how big three - chocolate, nutmeg and rum - are still made in the traditional way, and where you can get up close and tasting some of the finest samples on the island.

L.A. Burdick Chocolate Factory

Grenada was once one of the largest cocoa producers in the Americas prior to Hurricane Ivan, which devastated much of the island in September 2004. Cocoa is still produced here however, and you can visit the Burdick chocolate factory to see the process from bean to bar.

Jouvay chocolate bars from the Diamond Chocolate Factory
Jouvay chocolate bars from the Diamond Chocolate Factory - photo courtesy of CFFI, Grenada

L.A. Burdick works together with independent cocoa farmers on the island who opened their own chocolate factory. You can observe the workers sorting the cocoa beans into sizes before learning about the fermentation process and the secret recipe in the chocolate making which removes the impurities and turns the chocolate into what we know it as.

The best part about this visit is that you get to sample chocolate at the end! Don't forget to try the nutmeg one. It isn't all about the chocolaty goodness though: the factory also showcases the artistic talents of locals on the island, many of whom are young people. From vibrant coloured necklaces made from cocoa shells to coconut earrings, you will find an authentic gift to take back home.

Gouyave Nutmeg Processing Station

Nutmeg is now the island's biggest export and a visit to the nutmeg processing factory is a chance to observe the original method which is still used today. The factory is quite small and mostly run by workers who manually operate the machinery to turn the nutmeg from seed to powder.

Nutmeg drying in Gouyave
Nutmeg drying in Gouyave © Lee Edwin Coursey - Wikimedia CC BY 2.0

Once the nutmeg enters the factory it is separated and weighed before being dried for up to eight weeks. The shell is then removed by machine and put in water to distinguish the good ones from the rejects. After drying for 48 hours they are put into sacks which are then sewn by the men in the factory.

One surprising fact to take away from this experience is that nutmeg isn't only used for cooking; it is also used for aftershave, massaging creams, and even lipsticks and perfumes.

River Antoine Rum Distillery

If you ever wondered how rum was made back in 1785, take a ride to River Antoine Estate, the oldest rum distillery which still makes rum the old fashioned way with a water-powered mill. The juice is extracted from the sugar cane which is all cut by hand and supplied by local farmers before being transferred to the boiling house and distilling area.

River Antoine Rum Distillery
River Antoine Rum Distillery © Tony Hisgett - Flickr CC BY 2.0

Alcohol volume is not regulated and the rum produced here is one of the strongest rums in the Caribbean, and isn't the smooth taste that you'll find at other distilleries being 75% alcohol. The rum isn't exported from the island due to the alcohol being more than 69% but you do get a chance to sample it for yourself at the end of your tour. Visit on a Friday afternoon and you'll see the locals who come to purchase rum at the start of their weekend.

Chocolate, nutmeg, and rum - is there anything else you could want from a Caribbean island? There's even a mango festival in the summer too. For those looking for a destination which is lesser-known but incredibly beautiful, a visit to Grenada will definitely add a bit of spice to your holiday.

The port area of Carenage in St George's, Grenada
The port area of Carenage in St George's, Grenada © David Kirsch - Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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Tempted to take the taste test in Grenada? Check out Oliver's Travels for luxury villa breaks to the island, BA for flights and holidays, and Sandals for stunning all inclusive accommodation.

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Lisa Eldridge

Lisa Eldridge

Posted on Thursday 14th January 2016 in: Caribbean Culture

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