St Helena’s French Connection is Getting Stronger – About 40% Stronger
When taking the road from Jamestown to Napoleon’s Tomb and Longwood House the route immediately starts to climb up into the hills that surround the valley in which Jamestown lies. The air soon becomes refreshingly cooler; a welcome relief on a hot summer’s day. Just before reaching the ridge overlooking Seine Valley, where Napoleon was buried, there is a sign informing all passers-by that the Most Remote Distillery in the World is just a few steps away. Just off the main road, hidden among the trees, the St Helena Distillery is quietly and constantly producing a range of remarkable drinks for local consumption and for export.
The St Helena Distillery is now eight years old. Paul Hickling, the owner, has been improving, embellishing and expanding his range of drinks over those eight years. Next year he will have reached an important milestone. After starting with the distillation of the fruit from the local prickly pear, to produce ‘Tungi’, a drink which has been likened to the Italian ‘Grappa’, Paul went on to develop a coffee liqueur called ‘Midnight Mist’, a happy marriage between ‘Tungi’ and the world renowned St Helena Coffee. After that, White Lion Rum and Jamestown Gin were added to the range. In about twelve months time another auspicious drink will be added to the St Helena Distillery range.
To mark the bi-centenary of Napoleon’s exile to St Helena the St Helena Distillery is producing a limited edition commemorative brandy. For some time now the brandy has been quietly doing whatever it is brandy does when it is stored in French oak barrels; maturing nicely and getting itself ready for the enjoyment of connoisseurs. The French barrels are made by a family of cooper craftsmen from Cognac, the premier brandy producing region of France. The brandy will remain in the Cognac barrels for another year before being bottled and made ready for sale. The French barrels were specially chosen because of the way they help to improve the taste of the brandy stored inside them.
There are just two barrels lying in storage at the world’s most remote distillery, among the trees in the Alarm Forest district of St Helena. The brandy will be ready for drinking in time for one of the most important anniversaries St Helena will have this century; the bi-centenary of Napoleon’s exile to St Helena in October 1815. There is enough brandy in the barrels to fill one thousand brandy bottles. Those one thousand bottles of brandy will be a special limited edition produced specially for the bi-centenary. Each bottle will be individually numbered and have a special commemorative label. The ‘cork’ for the bottle, which is likely to be a glass stopper, will have a gold 10 franc Napoleonic coin embedded in the top. This commemorative production will be something very much more than the usual commemorative editions so often produced when a golden jubilee or similar anniversary comes around.
Arrangements have already been made for many of the one thousand bottles to be sold in France and elsewhere in Europe. A big launch is being planned for 15th October 2015 most probably at a prominent location in Paris.
Just a few years ago the Fondation Napoleon launched Operation St Helena, an international appeal for funds to save Napoleon’s house in St Helena, Longwood House. The fund is still open for acceptance of further contributions but sufficient money has already been raised to finance the complete renovation of the General’s Quarters at the rear of Longwood House. This work is also scheduled for completion in time to commemorate the bi-centenary of Napoleon’s exile.
Because the Fondation Napoleon appeal raised so much interest worldwide, but particularly among the French, it is entirely possible the launch of St Helena Distillery’s commemorative brandy will attract significant interest not just among connoisseurs of brandy but also among the admirers and devotees of one of France’s favourite national leaders.
In the meantime, the final details are being decided for the design of the commemorative bottle and the label for it. The public launch in Paris will be a big event and many details still have to be resolved and confirmed. There is an ever stronger feeling that the one thousand limited edition bottles of St Helena Distillery’s Napoleon brandy will not spend very long sitting on the shelves. If you want a bottle but find you are too late with your order, do not lose heart. Preparations are already in hand for a further limited edition commemorative brandy from the St Helena Distillery in 2021 – to mark the death of Napoleon. The St Helena Distillery can be contacted at;- firstname.lastname@example.org.