The rum report: Guyana, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago and St Lucia

Hamish Smith explores some of the lesser-known rum-producing areas

Now the Rum Report has looked at rhum agricole, the sweeter Spanish-influenced rums, British Navy, Cuban and Jamaican rums, we can fine-tune our investigation to take in the lesser-known styles of the Caribbean. 


Guyana’s rum is a body-size down on Jamaican, but remains a rich dark liquid that speaks of its molasses more than any other rum. This is Demerara rum, produced on the banks of the Demerara river, by Demerara Distillers from Demerara sugar molasses. And you can taste it.  

The company – which produces El Dorado and some rum for Pusser’s – has the world’s only wooden pot and continuous stills. This sounds downright dangerous but apparently allows for flavour exchange between distillates and gives fuller flavour and character. 

Demerara Distillers chairman Komal Samaroo gives us a little history. “By the 1950s the then major sugar company introduced the first rum to the local market – El Dorado. In the early ’90s we decided to aim the brand at North America, the Caribbean and Europe. We realised we could not compete with the big brands such as Bacardi and Lamb’s. It was a losing battle. So we went to the top end of the market with aged rums.”

Seventy per cent of DDL’s output is bulk rum, but El Dorado is gaining significance internationally, in the Caribbean – where because of its South American heritage is not seen as a competitor to local rums – the US, Canada, Holland, Sweden, and Finland. It has just launched in India.


Barbados rum is mellow, lightened by the use of column still distillates. As the saying goes, “a little pot still goes a long way”. 

Tina Ingwersen-Matthiesen, of Borco’s Old Pascas, which comes in Jamaican and Barbadian forms, outlines the differences: “Barbados rum is often described as somewhere between light Cuban and heavy Jamaican. The freshness is underlined by the pure water, which filters through the chalky, porous stone of the island.”

Barbados, like other small Caribbean islands, cannot grow enough sugar cane for its rum output, so buys much of its cane on the spot market.

But to talk of Barbados is to talk of Mount Gay. According to the brand, its operation is the world’s oldest, a statement proven by a legal deed from 1703 that describes a “pot still house”.

Fannie Young of the Rémy Cointreau-owned brand says its hallmark is that it doesn’t taste like any other rum, “it drinks like a Scotch whisky”. The company has just launched Black Barrel, which prominently features the year 1703. Apparently the new small batch rum is “taking off” in international markets, which now represent 75% of the brand’s sales. 

Trinidad & Tobago

This island duo is home to CL Financial’s Angostura, which, with its subsidiary Trinidad Distillers, produces a huge amount of bulk rum and the brands Zaya, Vat 19 and Kraken. 

While these islands are more British by history the rum, led by Angostura, tends to be more Spanish in style.

Iberlicor’s Zaya was once from Guatemala so is made to a sweeter style. Zaya rum master blender Carol Homer says: “Our rum is a marrying of various Caribbean and Latin rum styles, which is symbolic of Trinidad’s cultural diversity and style.”

St Lucia

According to Chairman’s Reserve’s John West, St Lucia changed hands some 14 times before the British claimed it during the Napoleonic war, prizing its deep-water harbour. Skip forward a few hundred years to 1972 and St Lucia Distillers is created, a merger of the island’s Roseau and Dennery distilleries.

Chairman’s Reserve was first blended in 1999, overseen by then chairman Laurie Barnard, who had travelled in Cognac and Scotland and conceived a quality blend of continuous and pot still distillates. 

The distillery’s output is 80% domestic, with Bounty the big local seller, but demand has increased for Chairman’s Reserve, which has been exported since 2008. “In the past 10-15 years people have discovered aged rums in the same way as whisky and Cognac,” says West. “That’s seen a complete transformation for Chairman’s Reserve – a 400% increase in 12 years.” 

Like many of the aforementioned rums, this brand’s story is only just starting.