Barbados has been making rum for more than 350 years, and it’s known as some of the finest in the world. It’s a part of the culture, history, past and future of the island— after all, sugar cane cultivation in the Caribbean began in Barbados, and it’s the birthplace of rum. So what better way to take in the culture of Barbados than through a rum tour?
While there are multiple rum tours on the island, Mount Gay Rum’s warm and welcoming tour, excellent rums and legacy—it is the oldest licensed commercial rum distillery in the world—make it a must-do tour. They actually have the license from 1703 in a case. That makes this a good spot for history lovers to check something off their list, but it also means that the flavor and craft of the rum is as close as you can get to the original flavor.
A Rich History
As you drive around the island, you may notice abandoned windmills every so often. While they make for a romantic sight, they aren’t just tropical decorations. In the past, the power of wind with a grinder at the base was used to grind sugar cane to extract the juice for sugar. The windmills were abandoned as modern techniques were introduced and sugar cane farming moved off of the island, but Bajan rum still uses much of the technique and even some of the same equipment today. The continued use of pot stills and the combination of pot stills with column stills, as they do at Mount Gay, keeps Bajan rum tasting similar to how it did 300 years ago.
Choose Your Experience at Mount Gay Rum Distillery
At Mount Gay, there are five tour experiences to choose from depending on how much time you can spend and how much rum you can drink, and each tour features the rich history of Mount Gay.
You will see implements that were used in making the original Mount Gay Rum, like a pot still from 1760 which is the oldest in Barbados and possibly the world. It’s the same type of still that Mount Gay Rum is still being made in today! They use traditional Coffey Column stills and twin retort Pot Stills at the St. Lucy Pot Still House to make their rum.
Signature Rum Tasting
About an hour-long experience, this includes a welcome rum punch, a tour featuring the history and craftsmanship of their rum and tasting of three signature Mount Gay Rums.
Full Signature Rum Tasting
This includes everything included in the Signature Rum Tasting, plus you get to taste two rums that are only available at the Mount Gay Visitor Center—a once in a lifetime experience.
Interactive Cocktail Tasting
This two-and-a-half-hour tour includes everything from the Signature Tasting, plus a Craft Cocktail experience.
Lunch Experience Featuring Bottomless Rum Punch Station
This two-and-a-half-hour experience includes the Signature experience rum tastings, culture and history, plus a Bajan lunch.
Storied Evening Cocktail Experience
This tour is only available on Fridays for adults over 18 years old. Everything from the signature rum tasting, plus Bajan delicacies and live music—it’s a three-hour evening experience!
Final Words & Other Rum Distilleries
Note that some of these tours require a reservation a few days in advance. And don’t worry, transportation is included, so you can safely imbibe without needing to choose a designated driver from your group.
During your visit, make sure you try their XO—liquor speak for Extra Old—it combines rums of eight to 17 years of age and the barrel-aging process brings out a flavor of sweet, vanilla cooked bananas. Cocktail lovers will enjoy the bar where Mount Gay bartenders craft drinks from the perfect Mount Gay Rum for each one. Try a Mojito made with Mount Gay Pure Silver, a Vanilla Sour made with Eclipse or a Black & Stormy made with Black Barrel.
If you thoroughly enjoy this rum tour and can’t get enough of the rum distilling experience, check out some of the other distilleries on the island, like the Foursquare Distillery, the West Indies Rum Distillery and St. Nicholas Abbey. Cheers!