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The Romance of Barbados Rum

on 05/12/10 at 12:59 pm


The history of cane spirits is the modern history of the western hemisphere, of sailing ships, of bold explorers and hearty adventurous souls. To cross the great Atlantic from Europe was to take your life in your hands, tempt fate — and hopefully reap untold rewards and riches.

In the mid-seventeenth century, those that succeeded in returning from such monumental tasks told fascinating stories of tropical wonders, new lands, beautiful islands and exotic, abundant bounty. Perhaps the most valuable and alluring evidence of such a journey was a barrel marked with these words: Barbados Rum.

The most desirable of all commodities in the newly discovered West Indies was refined sugar. Cane grass grew tall in great abundance in the new world and the processing of sugar crystals spawned the largest sector of the new world economy. It also produced a large amount of by-product; a dark and sticky sludge called molasses that could be diluted and fermented into a roguish spirit once known as killdevil, rumbullion, or “Barbados Water.”

At his inauguration, George Washington insisted on a single luxury for his honored guests: one hogshead — 64 gallons — of Barbados Rum.

Thus is the fate of the tiny island of Barbados. Long associated with rum and home to some of the oldest rum distilleries in the world, Barbados continues to refine, and thereby define, the quality of Caribbean spirits.

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