Words by Jesse Serwer
Dominica is a place of such natural abundance that even Viagra grows on trees. Better still, it’s distilled into rum. Bois Bandé, which literally translates to “hard wood,” is the bark of the Richeria grandis tree. While this same tree can also be found in Grenada, Guadeloupe, Trinidad (whose Mighty Sparrow made a song about it), Costa Rica and parts of Brazil, in many of these places you’ve gotta be in good with some bushmen to get some. In Dominica, where bois bandé has been used as an aphrodisiac and a fix for sexual ills going back to the time of the Carib and Arawak Indians, rum made with the substance is as easy to find as the nearest liquor store or rum shack. (It’s also distilled into powders and extracts which are sold online and, apparently, very popular in France)
Belfast Estate, Dominica’s largest distillery and the producer of the island’s ubiquitous Soca and Red Cap rum brands, is the producer of the island’s Bois Bandé (or BB) brand rum. While Belfast’s Bois Bandé rum is marketed in Dominica as a male virility aid similar to rum tonics like Mandingo in Jamaica, with the image of a barechested Carib man hoisting the universal fertility symbols on his back on its bottles, some say bois bandé is an equal opportunity aid, with effects for women, too. In other words, it’s the Caribbean’s own Spanish fly.
Richeria grandis trees in Morne Triton National Park, Dominica