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Barbados: The Birthplace of Rum 
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Barbados has long been heralded as the birthplace of rum. With nutrient-rich soil perfect for growing lush sugar cane with which to make rich molasses and a unique limestone aquifer, the island possesses all of the key ingredients for making the aromatic liquid for which it is known around the world.

How it started
For centuries, Barbados has been at the epicentre of rum production and this resulted in the island becoming a critical shipping port. As the trade of cotton and other items became more popular, the island’s port became heavily trafficked and was a prime spot to collect oaken barrels filled with the amber liquid. Admittedly, the first efforts to produce rum were sharp, unrefined attempts that were called “hellish”, but even in its raw infancy, rum became popular. 

This was in part due to how multifaceted rum was and continues to be. The versatile concoction was used as medicine, a valuable trading commodity and was considered such an integral part of daily life, that it was seen as a necessary job perk. Starting in 1655, the British Royal Naval ships included rum rations as a part of sailors’ daily allowances, since drinking on the job was the norm at the time. Later, it was mixed with lime juice in an effort to keep scurvy at bay, a disease which felled many brave sailors. Served twice daily, it was believed that these rations were one of the main lures to attract strong, young men into naval service. 

But it wasn’t only the navy that helped to bolster its employment with rum. Initially fueled with slave labour, the industry later provided jobs for coopers, stevedores, plantation labourers, shipping clerks and many more.  

Royal Navy sailors receiving their rations.


How it's going

Arguably, Barbados produces some of the best tasting rums in the world. What started off as a rough draft in the 1600s was refined and over time, the distillation and aging processes were improved, resulting in the beautifully blended rums we know and love today. This may be why there are so many rumshops per square mile. They can be found at almost every corner (usually in close proximity to a church - because, balance) and they’re ideal spots to sip on some rum, enjoy the fun and gossip with the locals.​​

One rum which locals love to sip on is Mount Gay. Its namesake distillery started in 1703, making it the oldest distillery still in operation in the world today. Other distilleries include The West Indies Rum Distillery, makers of Cockspur and Malibu rums, Foursquare Rum Distillery and St. Nicholas Abbey. Each distillery has its own unique rum distillation process ranging from traditional pot still methods to computerised systems.


We’ve almost wrapped up our fascinating history of rum so we thought we’d give you one for the road. Rum sours are the quintessential Bajan cocktail and there is even a rhyme to help you remember how to make it:

One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak

Traditionally that means 1 part lime juice, 2 parts simple syrup or cane juice, 3 parts rum and 4 parts water. Of course, many others have added little tweaks to the recipe to make it their own, even adding egg whites to the mixture for a different taste. But that’s completely up to you. So whether you like brown or white or spiced rums, or a rum sour after dinner, you can be sure that you’re savouring a part of Barbados’ rich history in every glass. 


Mount Gay Rum

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