It all began in the lush Caribbean island of Barbados in the 17th century. Sugarcane farmers recovered "the foam produced by boilers to make a spirit". Rum, also dubbed "kill-devil" and "rumbullion", was invented by fermenting and distilling molasses. Since then, Barbados has remained the land of choice for rum on account of its exceptional terroir. And Mount Gay, founded nearly 320 years ago, is the oldest and most prestigious distillery on the island. Its longevity relies on a respectful approach to natural elements and on the expertise inherited from its creators.
A deed from 1703 shows that the distillery existed at that time, yet it was surely founded a few decades earlier. Located on the Mount Gilboa plantation in the north of the island, the distillery was renamed Mount Gay in 1801 as a tribute to Sir John Gay Alleyne, the man who developed the distillery, perfected the distillation method, and gave rum its reputation and status. So much so that in 1789, George Washington, whose only trip abroad was to Barbados, specifically ordered rum from the island to celebrate his presidential inauguration.
Set between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Barbados is particularly exposed to the trade winds, which are very favourable to sugarcane cultivation. In addition, the island is formed of coral limestone, a porous soil that acts as a natural filter for groundwater from deep beneath the island. This filtered water is one of the purest in the world. Since its foundation, the Mount Gay distillery has drawn its water from the historic well located on its plantation.