On The Road: Rum packs a punch in idyllic Grenada

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The Independent Travel

The sunset is reflecting gold across the bay, twinkling lights flicker on the lapping water. Yachts in the nearby marina announce their presence with a distinctive twang, as rigging pings against masts.

The atmosphere is hazy. Warm and sultry, festive... but still hazy. I contemplate my rum punch and realise it's me. "What's this thing been spiked with?" I ask my Grenadian waiter. He holds up a bottle of local rum and I squint at the label. It says it's 138 degrees proof, so I decide it's time to put the glass down. Tomorrow will be soon enough to investigate whether that's true or whether I've completely lost focus.

The next morning I head off to explore Grenada's natural charms. I've only been here a few days but have quickly come to realise that the heady descriptions I'd read about Grenada are justified: this small speck of land is a complete assault on the senses. This is not a place that does things by halves.

My driver circumnavigates the island but we don't get far very fast, as he brakes every few minutes to point out a spice tree (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves – scents permeating the air) or a flower (bougainvillaea and helliconias in saturated hot colours). Later, I climb steep-sided hills and look back to the sea, then walk to a chattering waterfall that lies deep in the cool, soothing green of the rainforest.

We stop at a spice plantation that operates from near-derelict buildings dating back to the 1700s. The spices are processed in exactly the same way as they were back then. At the rum distillery it's the same: methods haven't changed there either and my guide is at great pains to point out that the rum is distilled to the purest standards. And it is 69 per cent alcohol by volume, which corresponds to 138 degrees proof. I have a taste of the product before it's been bottled. It's just like last night's cocktail, but without the juice it has twice the punch.

Grenada is certainly not a place that does things by halves.

Seafocus, a resource for scuba divers run by Shaun and Beth Tierney, is at seafocus.com . Footprint's 'Caribbean Islands Handbook' is out now (£14.99).