Barbados: Birthplace of Rum

By: Katie Manning

January 17, 2013

Widely believed to be the birthplace of Rum, Bajans hold this golden nectar in pretty high regard. In fact, ask any local and you’ll not only be treated to a brief history of the liquor, but most likely you’ll also be whisked off to the nearest beach bar to conduct the conversation over a rum punch or two. The sheer amount of rum shops dotted about the island (approximately 1,500 shops crammed into just over 166 square miles of land), is in itself a testament to just how much this spirit means to the local residents.


Rum distillery on the beach © Fotoluminate. Image under license from Shutterstock

Thought to be one of the world’s oldest distilled beverages, Barbados first started to produce rum back in the 17thcentury and has continued to supply the world with top quality liquor ever since. Now boasting over 350 years of experience in the distillation process, Barbados is the place to go if you want to sample the good stuff, and learn a little local history at the same time. Emerging out of the growth of the sugarcane industry, Barbadian rum has become an important part of the local economy, as well as a symbol of the nation’s heritage.


Ready to go Mojito © Jag_Cz 2013. Image under license from

The island’s oldest distillery, Mount Gay Distilleries has been producing rum since 1703 and is one of the world’s oldest rum brands. With their unwavering commitment to quality, Mount Gay continues to create some of the island’s best rum and now ships its prised produce across much of the world. You can even visit the distillery on a Mount Gay Rum tour and see for yourself just how the experts do it. Tours operate throughout most of the day during the week and introduce visitors to the history of Barbadian rum, the unique process of distillation at Mount Gay, and last but certainly not least, allow for a fair few tastings before making your wobbly way home.


The perfect end to the day © Drew Stephens

There’s also an annual Food, Wine & Rum Festival that takes place in Barbados every November with demonstrations, tastings and new rum-based recipes created especially for the event. We couldn’t ask for a better excuse to visit.

Header photo © Petr Kratochvil, Public Domain Pictures

Virgin Atlantic operates flights to Barbados from London Gatwick.


Katie Manning

Katie is an author for the Virgin Atlantic blog. Despite her urban London residency, Katie can often be found exploring far-flung corners of the globe in search of exciting new experiences and stories. A self-confessed night-owl, she makes it her mission to search out the best cocktail bars and live music venues on each and every expedition. Follow Katie @kt_saramanning

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