First made 370 years ago using the sugar cane that grows abundantly on the island, the rum from Barbados quickly became popular with British sailors and soon became regularly distributed throughout the British Navy. In 1703 Mount Gay distillery began producing the world’s oldest brand of rum, and Barbados earned its rightful title of the birthplace of rum.
Rather than leaning into one distillation method or another, Barbados rum has a history of embracing both pot and column stills, adopting the latter comparatively early. The fact that both still types are used is no small factor in the creation of Barbados’s characteristic spirit – heavier, twice pot-distilled rums lend blends weight and body, while column-distilled rums are used to add a lighter, contrasting character to the final spirit. As such, the predominant rum category produced on Barbados is single traditional blended rum: a blend of both pot and column-distilled rums produced at a single distillery.
Foursquare has made a name for itself producing extremely high-quality rums blended from both pot and column distillate, aged primarily in ex-bourbon barrels, and bottled across a number of brands, including Real McCoy, the award-winning Doorly’s and the extremely popular – not to mention collectable – Foursquare Exceptional Cask Selection, which often experiments with different cask maturations and is bottled at higher strengths.
Mount Gay was established in 1703 and has a credible claim to being the world’s oldest continually-operational distillery. Having made traditional Barbados rum for more than three centuries, it's safe to say Mount Gay knows its business, and now produces rums in a variety of styles, from young, fragrant spirits perfect for cocktails, to well-aged rums matured in a wide variety of cask types – and often more than one.
Mount Gay has helped to sculpt the very foundations of Barbadian rum – even, indeed, of rum itself.
This distillery sits in the highlands of St Peter in Barbados, on an old plantation built by Colonel Benjamin Berringer in 1658, it is one of only three Jacobean mansions remaining in the western hemisphere. Recently restored to its former glory by current owner Larry Warren. A far cry from the early rums made on Barbados, known as Kill-Devil thanks to its harsh flavour and high strength, St Nicholas Abbey now produces classic, elegant rums in its unique hybrid still, known as Annabelle.
Established in 1893 by George Stade and his brother on the edge of the pristine Brighton Beach, creating a variety of rums by using a traditional copper pot still and a four-column continuous still, and even a Vulcan Triple Chamber Still, the only one of its kind remaining in the world. West Indies Rum Distillery produces rums for many different brands – most famously Cockspur – and independent bottlers, including Plantation.