Welcome to the Sunset Bar. You’re sitting on a rounded couch overflowing with printed pillows. Colorful animal prints clutter the walls. Bird cages dangle from the ceiling. Arched columns rise from the cool tile floor. The windows behind you are open to the terrace and the sea breeze. You can see bright turquoise water and the starting-to-set sun beyond the rocky bluff. While four small stemmed glasses, tasting notes, and statuesque bottles of liquor sit on the table in front of you. Once the “rummelier” returns from the marble-topped bar, the rum tasting will begin.
You’re about to taste old and rare rums at Malliouhana on Anguilla. The beach resort was built on the north coast, where rocks separate Meads Bay and Turtle Cove, more than 30 years ago. You walked by—or at least up to—the elegant white hotel on each of your previous trips to the island. But the resort always felt a bit too stuffy for you. So you stayed elsewhere. Then the resort closed for three years. It recently reopened after a major renovation.
Malliouhana is still sophisticated, but it feels chic—like a stylish friend’s beach house—now. Tamarind trees and hammocks dot the boutique hotel’s 25 acres. Wooden benches and more pillows, hidden among the palms, surround a stone fire pit. Two freshwater infinity pools are lined with striped sun loungers. A warm shell massage is offered at the Auberge Spa. While steps lead down to Bobbing Cove, Turtle Cove, and Meads Bay. The latter’s white sand extends for one-and-a-half miles from the hotel.
Even when you aren’t on one of the three beaches, you’re probably still staring at the shimmering water. Your room has a terrace with an ocean view. The sunny yellows and soothing blues you see outside are matched on the decor inside. There’s a spacious double closet, an all-white bathroom, and down bedding, as well. The Restaurant at Malliouhana is open air with a nautical theme. It has rope railings, white wicker furniture, and blue-and-white decor. It’s where you ate a lobster omelette for breakfast and will return for a seafood feast for dinner. Right now, other guests are moving onto the Sunset Bar’s terrace with Caribbean Hibiscus cocktails and Heirloom Martinis.
You plan on joining them shortly. But, first, back to the rum tasting. The friendly rummelier suggests starting with fast sniffs of a silver rum from Martinique. They’re followed by a quick taste to coat your palate. It’s heavy on alcohol, like so many rums you’ve tasted in the past. Then you take a longer taste, which is mixed with a splash of water and sucked in with air. The flavor immediately changes. As you move through the rums from Haiti, Guatemala, and Barbados, you begin to taste the differences. One is very smooth. Another is slightly sweet. They’re each delicious.
When the tasting is over, you decide to stick with a glass of rum, instead of ordering a fruity cocktail, to watch the sun set. Your taste seems to be evolving, perhaps becoming more sophisticated, on Anguilla.