September 28, 2005

Newfoundland Screech Rum: An Island Tradition

Newfoundland Screech RumHere at Liquor Snob, we're suckers for a hard liquor with a mythology behind it. Who are we kidding...we're just suckers for hard liquor. But when our friend Erik told us about the story behind Newfoundland Screech Rum, we were even more intrigued than usual.

It is an island tradition, but this rum doesn't get its mystique from some steamy Caribbean jungle. Newfoundland, for those of you without a globe handy, is a big island off the coast of Canada (the 15th largest island in the world, if that matters to you). So how did this Canadian province get its own rum, a drink usually associated with warmer climates? Therein lies the story.

We got our version from the Screech Rum website, which tells of an American serviceman who tried to toss back a shot of the rum the same way his native hosts did. What happened next is the stuff of legends...

The look of shock and the glorious shades of color on the American's face were overshadowed by the bloodcurdling howl made by the poor fellow as he managed to regain his breath. Sympathetic persons from miles around rushed to the house to assist the poor man in such obvious agony and of course to satisfy their curiosity as to what was going on. Among the first to arrive was a garrulous old American sergeant who pounded on the door and demanded “What the cripes was that ungodly screech?”

The taciturn Newf who had answered the door replied simply, “The screech?” ‘Tis the rum, me son.”

As word of the incident was passed around, the soldiers determined to try this mysterious “screech” and finding its effects as devastating as the name implies, adopted it as their favorite.


Rum that makes you scream at the top of your lungs? Believe us, we'll be getting a bottle for review ASAP. Just as intriguing as the legend is the "Screech In" ceremony that goes along with it. We've only found online mumblings, but apparently, it includes drinking Screech Rum and kissing a cod fish, followed by some off-color recitation. Sounds like a typical Friday night at the Liquor Snob offices, but we'll let you know when we find out more.

Learn more at the Screech Rum site.

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Posted by Jake Jamieson at September 28, 2005 8:23 PM

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I was born (my reason of my father building the Argentia airbase)in Placentia. The folks there in the warm, foggy, south of Newfoundland told him that Screech was originally a formulation of odd casks of high proof liquor (190 proof or so) which included rum, whisky (scotch), canadian, bourbon, or whatever--hence it varied from bottling to bottling and could be quite--different. Don't know it is true. Used to think that his tales of wreckers were slander, but have read more and more of the poverty and desperation of the Newfies.


Posted by: Ron Noon at February 11, 2009 12:47 PM

I too am a proud Newfie and nuffing gives me more pleasure than coaxing a mainlander (non island folk) to take a few shots of Screech.

Little do non-newfies know, but the original screech was imported to Newfoundland when trading Codfish for Liquor imported from the islands of the Caribbean. Newfoundland and the islands have a long standing trade that dates back to colonization times.

The first barrels of this stuff was stored for many years, before finally being sold. The stuff sold on the island has been aged for quite a few years, and is the entire reason for the kick.

Nothing warms you up more than drinking 20 year old Caribbean spiced rum!

YUM!!


Posted by: Justin Miles at September 29, 2008 9:03 PM

Too funny - here's a Newfie Screech-in link:

http://www.newfoundland-books.com/site/1495114/page/896940

and you-tube has quite a few funny snippets too.


Posted by: Jill at March 24, 2008 3:25 PM

I'm a newfoundlander and the "screech in" is a way for us newfoundlanders let those who are unfortune to be non-newfies to become honary newfoundlanders and it is comical site for someone who is imparied to be able to try to say anything at all like a newfoundlander.
long may ya big gib draw:)


Posted by: Kristin at January 9, 2007 4:26 PM

We've got a bottle on the way, and with a resoundingly almost-positive review like that, we can't wait to burn our tastebuds off with Newfoundland's favorite rum. Maybe we're starting to see why Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine are the only states where it's available. Oh well, we'll just make the interns try it first...


Posted by: Liquor Snob at September 28, 2005 10:21 PM

Yessss! I'm amazed to see a mention of Screech here at Liquor Snob. Screech is a tradition as much as Guinness is for me and my friends. It's heinous, but it's a hazing tradition... and also a cheap way to get drunk without a bad aftertaste.

I don't really get into the Screech as hard as I should, but that's only because I usually have a good deal of Stoli to drink my way through whenever a bottle of Screech gets passed around... but I indulge a goodly amount nonetheless

Trust me. It's as horrifically awesome as the name implies.


Posted by: Johann K at September 28, 2005 9:35 PM
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