Barbados

This is where it all started, at least if you exclude the earlier Cachaca from Brasil. What’s crucial about Barbados is that for a long time distilleries and brands had to be seperated and it was not allowed for distilleries to bottle rum under their own name. Instead, merchants and blenders bought their rums to release it under their own labels. Today it is one of the very few countries which forbid adulteration in the form of adding sugar oder other artificial ingredients. With a new GI looming in the not too distant future, “Barbados Rum” may potentially soon only be bottled on the island.

Foursquare
While the history of Foursquare and the Seale family goes back well beyond 1996 (when they were known for trading and blending rum and other goods), it was Sir David Seale, father of current owner and master distiller Richard Seale, who completely overhauled and transformed Foursquare into the modern distillery that it is today. Until then, the rum for the houseblends has been bought mainly from the West Indies Rum Distillery (W.I.R.D.). Due to the falling sugar production on Barbados, most of the molasses used for rum production has to be imported from Guyana. According to Diffordsguide, all rums are produced from the same wash with a special yeast imported from South Africa. Since Foursquare produces many different rums, this is quite remarkable. Their stills include a Forsyths copper pot still with two retorts and a two-column Coffey still with an aldeyhde stripper, which can serve as a third column for very light distillates. Most rums produced and sold by Foursquare are blends of column and pot still make, which typically are already blended inside the barrel. On top of that, they experiment with many different types of barrels, which may then be blended again to play around with different flavour profiles.
Foursquare Distillery is also responsible for the rum of brands such as Doorly’s, The Real McCoy, Old Brigand or E.S.A. Field. The following is a list of tasted rums that have been distilled at Foursquare Distillery.

Mount Gay
mgThe history of Mount Gay dates back to 1703 (they also have a rum with that name). Back then, the Mount Gilboa estate has been founded by William Sandiford by consolidating several surrounding sugar plantations. In 1747 the 113 hectare large estate has been sold to John Sober, whose family operated it for the next century. At some point Jonh’s son asked his friend and owner of the neighbouring plantation John Gay Alleyne to help him manage his family’s business. Apparently he did such a good job that they renamed their plantation in his honour, Mount Gay (Mount Alleyne was already taken). Let’s fast forward a bit. In 1918, the English businessman Aubrey Ward acquired the distillery and overhauled it, added a column still and tried to establish the Mount Gay brand in the international rum market. His son Darnley continued what his father has started but after his death in 1989 Rémy Martin (now Rémy Cointreau) acquired the majority of the shares in Mount Gay. The Ward family retained some shares and the physical ownership of the refinery however, which was then licensed to produce new make for Rémy Martin/ Cointreau, who would then store and blend it. In 2006, Frank Ward, a descendant of Aubrey Ward, launched the triple pot distilled rum Mount Gilboa (in reference to Mount Gay’s former name).

West Indies Rum Distillery (W.I.R.D.)
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Among rumlovers, W.I.R.D., formerly the West Indies Rum Refinery (W.I.R.R.) and Stade Distillery, is particularily well-known for its Rockley or Blackrock style rums. It’s Barbados’ biggest distillery but they do not have their own brand. The distillery dates back to 1893, when the Stade brothers introduced the first column still to Barbados (which is still in use today), and perhaps even only the second to the Caribbean after Barcadi. The distillery was nationalised in 1918 (WIRR) but then sold to the Goddard family in 1973. Currently, they run two four-column continuous stills: One that dates back to 1975 and a very modern one that runs literally 24/7 with an output of 45,000 litres of spirit a day. Moreover, next to the original 1893 column still they have a copper pot still with a rectifying column on top but most likely another pot still has been used for the Rockley-style rums which have reached us by various independent bottlers (see this article). Recently W.I.R.D. has been acquired by Pierre Ferrand (Plantation, among others) so we will see where the distillery is heading. Let’s hope for the re-employment of some of the old stills lying around and no “dosage”!

St. Nicholas Abbey
Barbados’ youngest distillery started distilling in 2013, even though they were already bottling rum since 2009. While the distillery is very new, it is home to one of the oldest sugar cane plantations in Barbados and possibly also the entire Caribbean. It seems plausible that rum has been distilled here at some time or another in the past, which would make it one of the oldest distilleries in the world but there do not seem to be any historical proofs for this. Today it is mainly a tourist attraction and the fully renewed great house hosts wedding ceremonies and other events.

Unknown & Blends

  • Compagnie des Indes Barbados Multi Distillers 20YO (1996-2016), 45%
  • Plantation Barbados 5YO, 40%
  • Plantation Barbados 2000, 42%
  • Plantation Barbados Grand Réserve, 40%
  • Plantation Barbados XO, 40%
  • Rendsburger Canal Rum 1991er Plantagenrum (1991-2002), 45%
  • Rum Nation Barbados 12YO (1995-2008), 43%