Stades – A New Barbados Rum Brand Emerges

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.

Name Background

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.

West Indies Rum Distillery, Barbados
West Indies Rum Distillery, Barbados
Fermentation tanks, West Indies Rum Distillery, Barbados
Fermentation tanks, West Indies Rum Distillery, Barbados

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.

Beach Vat No. 1 Vat under construction, West Indies Rum Distillery
Bond No. 8, West Indies Rum Distillery
Bond No. 8, West Indies Rum Distillery

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.

8 thoughts on “Stades – A New Barbados Rum Brand Emerges

  1. Just made a connection. Didn’t R. L. Seale & Co bottle using the Stades label? According to an old copy of Hamilton’s The Complete Guide to Rum, published in 1997, the white under this label was the most popular rum for the domestic market.

    1. My understanding was that Stades become a local term for WIRR rum, and that many Barbados bottlers put “Stades” on their label to indicate what type of rum. Kind of like how some people say “Kleenex” as a general descriptor, despite its being a brand name.

      WIRR itself could not sell rum, and thus did not have its own “Stades” trademarked rum.

  2. “The volatile components are given as 96 gr/hlAA. Dosage is given as 6 grams/liter.” Are you disappointed to hear about new dosage from Barbados?

  3. I was always under the impression that on Barbados no additives were permitted except spirit caramel for color adjustment. Was I mistaken or has this changed?

    1. Great question!

      Certain people have worked hard to convey the impression that Barbados rum was always free of additives. Historic sources (old and new) disprove that notion.

      Some producers have stopped using additives in relatively recent years, but not due to any laws.

      As it stands currently, there is no restriction on additives. Only a proposal as such by a group of producers.

  4. Thanks for the clarification. I know that most if not all of the products coming out of the Foursquare distillery are free of additives. I’m assuming the same with Mount Gay. I personally don’t mind dosage but appreciate transparency on the issue. Plantation 5-year comes to mind and I find that a very good product.
    To clarify my former belief I thought that once it left Barbados then the bottler could do what they wished with it but in Barbados it was a no-no.
    So as it stands is Jamaica the only country that has this type of restriction in place?

    1. Regulations like these aren’t oriented around in-country or outside-of-country. Rather, it’s what wording can legally be used to designate a rum sold in that country, including bottle labels.

      Now, some countries have gotten other countries to recognize those same restrictions on labeling. For example, the US recognizes the Scotch Whisky regulations.

      For all this enthusiast talk about additives, most rum makers (that is, the entities that decide GIs and similar regulations) haven’t been fixated on the topic and don’t address the issue at all. Jamaica’s GI says nothing about additives. (It’s a different law, nearly a century old, that prohibits it.)

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