Visitors to Coastal Extreme Brewing Company & Distillery in Newport are sure to savor the Newport Storm beer and Thomas Tew Rum made on site, but they may not know that with the latter, they are in essence, tasting a piece of history. During the Colonial era, Newport was the rum capital of the world with over 22 rum distilleries throughout the city. In 2006, when the team behind Newport Storm decided to try their hand at distilling, they knew there was just one way to do it—the old fashioned way.
In 2006 they started Newport Distilling Company to make Thomas Tew Rum, named after an infamous privateer-turned-pirate known as the Rhode Island Pirate, making it nearly identically to the way it was here in Newport more than 200 years ago—in a single copper pot still with fermented blackstrap molasses. With an aging requirement of several years, it has taken the better part of a decade to create enough rum to supply Rhode Island and beyond. With the recent addition of a second still to increase production, this small distillery has finally produced and aged enough rum to share their art and passion around the country. Thomas Tew Single Barrel Rum, has been featured on Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe (January 2011), in the New York Times (October 2013), and multiple pieces in Food and Wine Magazine. In 2016, Newport Distilling Company unveiled another rare spirit to their portfolio, Widows Walk, an overproof white rum. Handcrafted with flavorful blackstrap molasses and made a single pot still, Widows Walk has a buttery nose up front followed by a grassy cane flavor and finishing with dark molasses notes. The robust 67.5 % ABV brings forth more concentrated flavors allowing it to be balanced by a wider variety of modifiers used in cocktailing. As for the name? In Newport’s rum heyday, life on the sea was not for the faint of heart. When ships left port, there was little guarantee of when or if they would return. Because of this, ship’s owners and crew members’ loved ones used small structures on the top of harbor side houses to look out for the safe return of their ships. These structures eventually became known as “widows walks” as too often the ships, and the mariners on them, never returned.
The untamed flavors of this unaged white rum bring back the spirit of the bold sailors that put it all on the line to seek their fortunes.