Richard Seale: Rum's Supreme Champion

Seale took to distillation and officially became the fourth generation to join RL Seale in 1993 as the company made its biggest purchase ever – Martin Doorly’s brands. Up to that point, RL Seale produced mainstream rums for the domestic market, like Barbados’ most popular brand, ESA Field. The purchase of Doorly’s significantly increased the company’s scope and set in motion changes that would form the high calibre brand we know today.

“There’s nothing like the largest investment to focus your attention,” says Seale. “It’s amazing how one investment leads to another. When we bought Martin Doorly’s, we realised that we wanted to get into export, because up to then we didn’t really export anything. All of our years, we’re selling core, mainstream brands, but Martin Doorly’s is a prestigious brand, a brand which was very dominant in the 1970s.”

Charged with the stewardship of a premium and international brand, the company’s focus would shift. “That’s when we had to think seriously about investing in stocks and thinking seriously about investing in stocks means you have to think carefully about distilling the stocks. You can’t depend on other distilleries’ investment decisions and pricing.”

A year a er the Martin Doorly’s purchase, the company bought a 17th-century sugar estate called Foursquare. “[The estate] stopped making rum in the 19th century and spent the 20th century making sugar and molasses before it closed in 1988. We bought that in 1994, refurbished and started making rum in 1996.”


With the distillery established, it was only natural that Seale would assume the role of the distiller.

“We were always a small enough company that it wasn’t like we were going to hire other people, so we’d have to go and do it all ourselves. I think maybe if we were a bigger company I might’ve just stayed in management and hired people, but we were small enough that if we didn’t do it ourselves, we weren’t going to be able to afford to do it.

“I looked a er the distillation. I grew up around rum, so I knew about distillation, but I’ve always tried to explain to people, the point about distillation is not about knowing distillation but knowing the rum. You can be an expert on distillation but if you don’t know the rum is shit, it’s going to be no help to you.”

Captain of a new distillery, Seale began to lay down stock for ageing ready for the international market. “We started exporting seriously in 2000 or 2001 and we launched Doorly’s around this period. It was perfect timing because just a er we start exporting, we create this new product, Doorly’s XO, and it does really well for us.”

Doorly’s XO, a blended aged rum matured in sherry casks, proved to be an international hit and vindicated the company’s move into the premium export market.