The West Indies Rum Distillery produces unaged rum in bulk and bottles rum as well as gin, vodka and other alcoholic beverages.
Much speculation surrounds the origin of the word « rum ». Some say that it was derived from the Latin for sugar cane, « saccharum officinarum ». Others from the English slang term of « rumbullion » denoting an uproar! In addition, the Malays for thousands of years have been producing a drink called « brum » made from the juice of sugar cane. However, the strongest claims of all come from Barbados. In 1650 and anonymous description of Barbados states, « the chief fuddling they make in the island is Rumbullion alias Kill Devil, and this is made of sugar cane distilled – a hot hellish and terrible liquor ».
Just 4 years later, in 1654, the General Court of Connecticut (New England) ordered the confiscations of « whatsoever Barbados liquors, commonly called rum, kill devil and the like ». This confiscation was to protect the distilleries in New England and is the earliest known recognition of Barbados rum in the colonies. Kill Devil or Rumbullion was noted as rough and unpalatable and could overpower the senses with a single whiff and would lay men to sleep on the ground! It was believed to have been a stronger spirit than any other in the islands and was used to cure many afflictions in the tropics – colds, tiredness and sunstroke were all treated in slaves by kill devil in order that these ailments did not interfere with their work. All these accounts co-incide quite nicely with the introduction of sugar cane in Barbados which was brought to the islands by the Dutch settlements of Brazil and Guyana in the 1630’s.
The West Indies Rum Distillery Limited has seen the turn of not one but two centuries. Established in 1893 by the Stades brothers, its primary purpose was to export rum to their homeland of Germany. Introducing the first continuous still to the Caribbean, the Stades brothers and the then named West India Rum Refinery were pioneers in scientific rum making. In 1903, the distillery was sold to local Barbadian interests and ownership has remained in Barbadian hands with the local group, Goddard Enterprises Ltd, now owning 88% of the shares.
Since the first documented update to their facilities, in 1904, The West Indies Rum Distillery has continued to follow the example of the Stades brothers in their quest to be most modern distillery in the Caribbean and has continuously invested to ensure that it has kept up with growth in demand and improvements in technology. This has resulted today, in a distillery with one of the most modern 4 column continuous stills in the Caribbean. In addition to it’s main still, The West Indies Rum Distillery Limited continues to produce rum on its older continuous still as well as two pot stills. This allows the Distillery to offer its customers a wide range of rums of the highest quality.
Since their establishment, The West Indies Rum Distillery has established many markets for its rums worldwide and now boasts an impressive presence in the United Kingdom, Continental Europe and USA. Their long-standing impact on these markets is due to the consistent quality and wide range of products offered in these highly competitive markets and has secured long-term supply contracts with the highly successful brands of Malibu Rum and Cockspur Rum.
With a current employee complement of over 62, The West Indies Rum Distillery Limited’s operations includes a distillery, an aging and distribution warehouse and a bottling plant. The distillery has a production capacity of approximately 15,000,000 litres of pure alcohol a year and is capable of warehousing 1,500,000 litres of bulk storage in stainless steel tanks and 20,000 American White Oak barrels of 200 litres each.
The West Indies Rum Distillery Limited boasts a bottling capacity of 100,000 cases per year. The automatic bottling line handles 60 bottles per minute and the semi-automatic line 30 bottles per minute.