Philipsburg, Sint Maarten: Topper's Rhum

​​Distillery:
Topper's Rhum distillery is located on Sint Maarten, a Dutch country on a Caribbean island that is shared with the French country of Saint Martin.  From the cruise ship port in Great Bay, it is a 20 minute taxi ride to the distillery in Cole Bay.  The rum is made from black strap molasses but has to be distilled off-site due to local fire code restrictions.  Blending and bottling is done within the 6,000 square foot facility, which also includes a classroom/laboratory where new flavors are developed.  Some of these unique flavors are ones we have not seen anywhere else and challenge the boundaries of flavored rum.

Topper's prides itself in being handmade in Sint Maarten by a resourceful team of locals who make the best of the limited tools available. Some examples of their ingenuity include stirring the rum in the blending tank with a wooden oar and using a sunshade from a toddler's bicycle to block the sun from interfering with the labeling machine's laser.  The signature palm tree-embossed swing top is placed on the bottles by hand with a modified pair of pliers and a hair dryer is used to heat the safety seal.  The free tour of this unique distillery is an entertaining and inspiring experience, complete with generous samples of all of their delicious rums.

The Caribbean White Rhum is notably smooth and the Spiced Rhum has notes of authentic island spices, but the stars of this show are their unique flavored rhums.  Natural flavors are abundant in the Banana Vanilla Cinnamon Rhum and the White Chocolate Raspberry Rhum is reminiscent of a gourmet dessert without being overly sweet.  Coffee lovers will enjoy the Mocha Mama Rhum which has rich coffee and chocolate notes along with a hint of vanilla.  A light and refreshing coconut rhum completes the Topper's collection.


Local Attractions:

  • Maho Beach: One of the most photographed spots on Sint Maarten is Maho Beach on the west side of the island.  Crowds flock to this beach for an extreme close-up view of incoming jets making their final approach to Princess Juliana International Airport.  It is one of the few places in the world where people can get this close to a major runway - so close that there is a danger of being blown into the water by the jet blast!  That doesn't seem to deter anyone though, and watching the jets has become so popular that local beach bars display daily flight arrival times on their chalkboards.
  • Front Street: The best shopping on Sint Maarten can be found in an area known as Front Street, adjacent to the cruise ship terminal in Great Bay.  In addition to duty-free staples such as jewelry and electronics, the unique, locally produced liquor called Guavaberry can be sampled and purchased here.  It is made from the rare Sint Maarten guavaberry (which does not taste like guava but more like a bittersweet berry), along with aged rum and cane sugar.  This area can get extremely crowded when cruise ships are in port so visit later in the day for a less hectic experience. 
  • Topper's Restaurant and Bar:  Located just a few miles from the Topper's Rhum distillery is their signature restaurant, which serves up an extensive menu of appetizers, sandwiches, and entrees with a focus on fresh seafood.  As expected, they also serve the full line up of Topper's Rhums in a variety of delicious cocktails. Daily happy hour specials and nightly entertainment including live music, karaoke, and DJs make this an excellent choice for lunch or dinner on the island.