West Indies Rum Distillery (WIRD) was founded on Brighton Beach, St Michael, in 1893. The Distillery mission has not changed in 130 years: to create the best Barbadian rum, using the best possible methods, always highlighting the diverse heritage of Barbados –the country where rum was born.
George Stade, Distiller, Rum Pioneer and Sugar Cane Expert
George Stade was an inventor and an adventurer, with several international rum and sugar cane related patents to his name. In 1893 he fulfilled a lifelong dream by creating a distillery showcasing his genius inventions and making the world’s best rum, in Barbados. Within two to three years, the name “Stade’s” became synonymous with quality rum on the island. The distillery rapidly grew to be the largest and longest continuously operating distillery in Barbados. Today the distillery team is led by Andrew Hassell (Managing Director) and is producing approximately 85% of the island’s rum. WIRD is the largest rum exporter on the island, providing revenue for generations of Barbadians. The distillery was awarded largest rum exporter at the 2022 Export Barbados Awards Ceremony.
Centuries of Heritage and Expertise
Today, a diverse and passionate Barbadian team preserves this precious heritage with a combination of technical expertise and boundless curiosity. “The distillery employs about 80 people, an increase of 40% since 2017 and whose combined experience are its most precious resource”, said Master Distiller Don Benn, who was awarded “Rum Distiller of the Year” at the 2020 Spirits Business Awards.
Others have dedicated their working lives to the distillery. Henderson Skinner has worked at WIRD for over 40 years, like his father Cleophas Alleyne before him, keeping the company’s history alive and inspiring new generations to continue its legacy.
WIRD Supports Local Economy Through Sustainable Development
WIRD is a key player in Barbados’ environmental objectives. The distillery will become carbon neutral by 2030 and already took a major step in this direction with the installation of solar panels on its warehouse roof in 2021 and by replacing existing company vehicles with electric ones.
With the opening of the “Harper’s Sugar Cane Mill” in 2022, WIRD also joined with the Sugar Cane Breeding Station to support the study of the sugar cane, the agricultural origin of our award-winning rum.
WIRD became the first distillery in the Caribbean to obtain a Chain of Custody certification from Bonsucro, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable sugar cane production, processing and trade around the world. WIRD also teams up with local producers to source coconuts for Plantation “Cut and Dry” rum, available exclusively on the island.
Our Rums Continue to Win on the World Stage
WIRD is known for producing one of the world’s top premium rum brands: Plantation Rum was named Favourite Rum Brand by the world’s 100 best bars for 6 years in a row, adding to the brand’s collection of over 400 medals from the most prestigious international competitions. Stade’s Rum has also won gold medals from the Spirit Business and Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, two prestigious organizations that are famous worldwide. In March 2023 it was announced that Plantation Rum XO 20th Anniversary and the newest vintage Barbados 2013 Under the Sea both won Master Medals at the Rum and Cachaça Masters hosted by the Spirits Business Awards (London).
2023 will be an exciting one for WIRD to Celebrate its 130TH Anniversary and to open the new Visitor Centre
WIRD looks forward to celebrating 130 years of heritage and opening its brand new visitor centre, a significant tourist attraction for the country. The visitor centre will facilitate sharing the heritage of Barbadian rum and its incredible collection of vintage rum-making equipment with visitors from Barbados and beyond.