Barbados – The Birthplace of Rum

It’s no secret that Barbados produces some of the best rum in the world but, did you know, this little Caribbean island is the birthplace of this spirit? Rum is the essence of Barbados culture and it’s celebrated by every part of Bajan society, from farm workers to property tycoons. So, what better way to celebrate the upcoming World Rum Day, taking place on the 11th July, than by sharing the story of Barbadian rum and showcasing its importance in Bajan culture and heritage. Read on to find out more…

Mount Gay Rum Distillery

Located in Bridgetown, Barbados, Mount Gay distillery was founded in 1703 and is believed to have produced the oldest rum found anywhere in the world. Visitors to Barbados can take a tour of the Mount Gay Rum Distillery. Steeped in over 300 years of history, this tour gives incredible insights into the fascinating history of the distillery, the operations of creating Mount Gay Rum, and to top it all off, a tasting experience of the iconic spirit. Today’s connoisseurs always appreciate a gift of Mount Gay Rum Extra Old so, be sure to pick up a bottle on your trip.

Rum Shops

Barbados is famous for its rum shops, boasting over 1,500 across the island. Each shop is packed with the rums of the Caribbean, from mini bottles to pint and a half flask. So, if you’re a connoisseur of food and drink or simply someone who loves Caribbean rum, then you must pay a visit to a rum shop.

These shops are more than just a place to drink, they are a place where people from different backgrounds come together to ‘lime’ – a Bajan term meaning to relax, mingle and enjoy great rum and tasty food. Rum ignites the gossip in these rum shops and bars, and, at times, even binds business deals. Many rum shops serve local food like traditional Barbadian cutters, similar to regular sandwiches and made with crusty Bajan salt bread, to go with the delicious drinks Some of the most famous rum shops on the island include London Bar, Hercules and Braddies. Mix with the locals, blend rum with  a range of islandmusic and rythmns, and enjoy an unforgettable Barbadian experience.

Due to the importance of rum shops to Barbados and its history, the Bajan Association of Rum Shops (BARS) was created to preserve the culture of these shops and the place that rum holds in Barbadian culture. BARS is  an NGO which provides assistance and support to rum shop and bar owners to help them develop their businesses.

St. Nicholas Abbey

Located in St. Peter, St. Nicholas Abbey is the oldest plantation house in the Caribbean, it’s also one of only three genuine Jacobean mansions in the Western Hemisphere and, if you haven’t guessed it, it’s also where St. Nicholas Abbey Rum is created. Here, you can visit the great house, and the sugar mill and distillery to see for yourself how they make their small-batch rum.

On your visit, be sure to walk around the beautiful surrounding gardens, orchards and the adjacent Cherry Tree Hill. Not only can you visit the distillery, but there’s also a guided tour of this sugarcane plantation that explores its history with rum and slavery where you can look at old enslaved African ledgers and records in their museum as well as the old village.

Foursquare Rum Factory

Found hidden in the southern countryside of Barbados on a former sugar plantation is the modern and magnificent Foursquare Rum Factory and Heritage Park. This working rum distillery is famed for producing a collection of rums including Doorly’s, Old Brigand and E.S.A. Field.

Visitors can explore Foursquare Rum Factory free of cost and learn about the different stages of rum-making and see some incredible antique distilling equipment first-hand. Enjoy the full experience and sample some of the factory’s delicious rums in their bar after your tour, for a small fee!

For more information on Barbadian rum and culture, check out the Visit Barbados website.


For more information on Barbados, please contact Niamh Waters