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Distillery to buy Buena Vista from NIB

John Watling’s Distillery is set to purchase the multimillion-dollar Buena Vista manor from the National Insurance Board (NIB) to “control its destiny”.

The historic site, more than 200 years old, has traded hands many times over the centuries and remains one of the capital’s most iconic buildings.  Investors in the new John Watling’s Distillery confirmed yesterday that they are in the process of buying the property.

“We had a lease on the building with the option to buy.  We are exercising that right now,” said Pepin Argamasila, one of the principles of the distillery.  “We don’t want to talk about money, but the buy makes sense given our investment in the property.  This is our brand and we want to control its destiny.”

Although the distillery is buying Buena Vista, investors say “it really belongs to The Bahamas”, as they see themselves more as caretakers than owners.

After more than a month in business, Nassau’s newest attraction is reporting steady visits from tourists and Bahamians alike.  The distillery is preparing to roll out a new advertising campaign for downtown Nassau in the coming weeks to coax cruise ship arrivals “up the hill”.

“We want them to get off the beach and explore the rest of Nassau,” Argamasila said.

The attraction should get some help soon from some big tourism players.

According to the distillery, Majestic Tours is planning a tour that includes Graycliff Chocolate Factory, the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, Junkanoo Museum and John Watling’s Distillery.  Islandz Tours is already funneling tourists through these attractions.  The next step is tour operators pitching these attractions to cruise ship companies.  If successful, this area of the capital could become a major contender to Bay Street.

“You really see it coalescing.  It is trying to create a destination.  It is not just us, but taking the rest of the neighborhood into consideration,” Argamasila explained.

The owners are waiting patiently for the right restaurant partner, seeking to offer Bahamian fine cuisine with an international flare.

Argamasila said that the business is also seeking outdoor food providers to set up on the front lawn serving lunch to visitors.  The goal is to keep the opportunities Bahamian and support the community, ideally sourcing native ingredients.

The philosophy fits in with the overall old-fashioned experience at John Watling’s Distillery.  The site is now brewing a number of liquors, all of which are finding themselves on local shelves.  Investors are planning to begin exporting the product in the near future.

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