The West Indies Rum Distillery has announced via their Facebook page the imminent arrival of their first branded rum: Stade’s Rum, tagline: Mellowed by the Sea. (March 2nd, 2021).
As many readers of this site know, the West Indies Rum Distillery is owned by Plantation Rum. What is notable here is that is not a Plantation Rum release. Stade’s is entirely produced and bottled in Barbados. There is no secondary Cognac cask aging as in the Plantation line. (We’ll get to the technical details below.)
Why is this significant?
Once upon a time, rum distilleries sold all their rum in bulk, and were little known outside of a small group of rum industry insiders. Rum was, for the most part, a bulk commodity, with foreign blenders making much of the profit from the end product.
However, as the rum industry premiumizes more distilleries are stepping into the spotlight, selling rum under their own brand and capturing more of the finished product’s value. Jamaica’s Hampden Estate and Long Pond distilleries have recently taken that step, joining other name brand distilleries like Appleton Estate and Mount Gay in making the branding about the distillery.
Cumulatively, these are important milestones in elevating rum as a premium spirit. The Stade’s brand is yet another step in that direction. It also means all four Barbados distilleries have their own house brands.
Stade refers to George Stade, a German engineer who specialized in sugar processing and distillation equipment. He built the West India Rum Refinery on Barbados in 1893 and introduced the first column still to the island. Since its inception, the West India Rum Refinery has been the largest rum-producing distillery on Barbados. In the early-1900s, it added pot distilled rum and aged rum to its portfolio.
WIRR was not built to supply its own brand, or any particular brand. Rather, the distillery’s business model was supplying rum to Barbados blenders for their own private label brands, among them Goddard’s, Doorly’s, Hanschell Inniss, Alleyne Arthur, E.S.A Field, and many more. In time, Stades became a sort of alternative name for rum on Barbados, and “Stades” appeared on numerous labels, although they were not owned by the distillery, just buying from it.
In 1994, the West India Rum Refinery, then owned by Goddard Enterprises Ltd. was renamed to the West India Rum Distillery, the name we know it as today. In 2017, Plantation Rum (part of Maison Ferrand) purchased the distillery and started reactivating old equipment like the Vulcan chamber still, and adding new equipment, such as the new “Hot Pot” pot still.
For more information on the distillery and Barbados rum history, see my Barbados Rum Cheat Sheet.
Stade’s Rum Details
The initial two release are named Beach Vat No. 1, and Bond No. 8. Both are blends of pot distilled and column distilled rums, bottled at 43 percent ABV.
- The column distilled rum is from a 2-3 day ferment, and described as “medium-body twin column rum”.
- The pot distilled rum is from a two-week ferment, and is distilled on the Gregg’s Farm pot still.
The Beach Vat is a clear rum that’s spent several months in a 20,000 liter oak vat at the distillery, yards from the seashore. Although it is covered with a top, the vat is not sealed, so there is some exposure to the ambient air. The volatile components are given as 76 gr/hlAA. There is no sweetening (“dosage”) for this rum.
The Bond No. 8 (the name refers to one of the distillery’s warehouses) is aged between one and three years in ex-bourbon barrels. There is also a bit of six- to eight-year rum blended in, although the label does not include an age statement. The volatile components are given as 96 gr/hlAA. Dosage is given as 6 grams/liter.
Initially both rums will be available exclusively on Barbados. However, recently, the U.S. TTB has approved labels for both, so it is presumably coming to the U.S. – see the images at the top of the post.
Update: A company representative confirms it will be available in the U.S. by late summer of 2021. European distribution may occur later, but no target date is established.