Tucked away within the Chassahowitska Wildlife Management Area in west-central Florida is the Njoy Spirits distillery, which produces Florida Mermaid Rum. Every batch of rum is hand-made on this 80 acre farm by owners Natalie Joy and Kevin Goff, who do everything from growing the rye for the whiskey and sugar cane for the rum to bottling and labeling the final products.
The rum process starts with crushing the home-grown Florida sugar cane, adding UV filtered rain water and yeast, then fermenting it one batch at a time to produce alcohol. It is then distilled in a copper pot still and aged for three years. The final product is a blend of their three year gold rum and Caribbean pot still rum which is aged in their Wild Buck Whiskey oak barrels for 90 days. After aging, the rum is placed in uniquely shaped square bottle, labeled by hand, and sealed with a genuine mahogany cork.
Florida Mermaid Rum is a bold, rich, 100 proof rum that is excellent neat, on the rocks, or mixed into their Mermaid Kiss rum punch. The distillery also produces Wild Buck Whiskey, a 100% rye whiskey made with grain grown on-site, and Ryes In Shine moonshine made from the same rye grain.
Check out the Njoy Spirits website for more information about their products and free distillery tours:
World famous for the live mermaid show which began in 1947, this natural spring is a family-friendly destination that also offers a river boat cruise, wildlife show, and a water park called Buccaneer Bay. Tickets are reasonably priced and parking is free. There are no advance ticket sales however and the park does reach capacity on some days, so make sure to arrive early to avoid disappointment.
This is one of the only places on Earth where it is legal to swim with West Indian manatees, which are protected by the Endangered Species Act. Winter (mid-November to late March) is the best time to go since manatees congregate here in the Three Sisters Springs by the hundreds to enjoy the warm water. Nearby Kings Bay has excellent kayaking and paddleboarding. Just off the Crystal River in the Gulf of Mexico is one of the few places where you can scallop in Florida. Bay scallop season runs from July 1 through September 24 each year.