R. L. Seale & Co. Ltd

Barbados

I was surprised when I heard there was a new distillery in Barbados. The huge initial cost of equipment combined with the costs of marketing a new product has stifled most new development in the industry for many years. In addition to money it takes at least a few years for rum to mature into the kind of product that will attract attention, and a loyal following, on its own merits. For a new distillery to be successful requires not only thorough planning and a huge commitment of money but also also the talents of great technical innovators.

The story began to make sense, however, when I learned David Seale was behind this bold new venture. The Foursquare Distillery in St. Phillip is more than another distillation column turning fermented molasses into rum. The newest distillery in the Eastern Caribbean is a new generation of the art and part of Heritage Park, a place to see and experience the culture and history of Barbados.

R.L. Seale & Co. Ltd. is certainly one of the Bajan success stories of this century. The wholly, Bajan-owned rum company, R.L. Seale & Co. Ltd., is the third largest bottler in Barbados. And Mr. Seale is the celebrity you would expect him to be. David Seale’s company is known for the distinctly Bajan products and innovation that have become symbols of the island.

The new distillery is only the latest chapter in the story. R.L. Seale and Co. Ltd. have excelled as bottlers of fine rum for years, in fact they sell more rum in Barbados than either of the giants. Until now all the rum sold by R.L. Seale & Co. Ltd. was distilled by the West Indies Rum Refinery. The Foursquare distillery will give the company greater flexibility and control of the process.

The most modern vacuum distillation technology allows the use of lower temperatures in the still to avoid “overcooking” and impairing the flavor of the rum. Energy saving innovations and the utilization of the by-products of the rum-making process also generate additional revenue. Carbon dioxide, for example, from the fermentation vats is captured and then filtered before it is sold to soft drink manufacturers. The distillery has also incorporated the latest in waste treatment. The spent molasses from the distillation process is converted to a protein rich solid used in animal feed. Most other distillers dispose of this waste in the ocean where it can interfere with the delicate balance of the marine ecosystem. Someday all distillers will employ similar waste recovery systems.

Rum drinkers are some of the most loyal consumers in the world and distillers have typically shied away from process changes for fear of changing the taste, color or anything else to do with their finished product. This reluctance to apply new methods has also resulted in higher costs and reduced efficiency. Here advances in technology are employed to make the best product and to be as environmentally conscious as possible.

Everything sold by this company is blended and bottled at their Hopefield facility in order to maintain the highest standards of quality control. Barbados Gold is Seale’s most popular gold rum. This blend of rums less than five years old was the first place winner in the 1993 Caribbean Week Rum Testing Competition. E.S.A. Field, locally referred to as “see through,” or “Stade’s” is the best-selling white rum in Barbados by a large margin. At 43% alcohol by volume, this rum is available everywhere in almost any size bottle you want. Bajans drink Stade’s with water on the side or with a little bitters and ice, then Eat, Sleep and Forget.

In July of 1993 the assets of Alleyne Arthur were acquired by along with considerable aged rum stocks. Still bottled under the Alleyne Arthur name are Old Brigand and Special Barbados Rum. Although primarily for export, they are available in Barbados.

Old Brigand is blended as White, 5 Year, Black Label and 10 Year Old. Old Brigand Black is a blend of rums more than five years old and is popular in most of the places rum is drunk in Barbados. Old Brigand 10 Year Old is the rarest rum bottled here with ten to thirteen-year-old rums in the blend. This rum is harder to find, but worth the effort. Doorly’s, another label owned by R. L. Seale & Co. Ltd., is recognized as an essential part of any connoisseur’s bar in Barbados.

Doorly's 5 Year Fine Old Barbados Rum is a blend of five-year-old rums and one of the most widely respected Bajan blends. Doorly’s Macaw is a white rum for export and, like the previous Doorly’s products, is bottled at 40% alcohol. Look out for the Doorly’s Macaw Dark Rum—the label is similar to the light rum, except the background is yellow. The dark, colored rum is 75.5% alcohol or 151 proof and is commonly used in rum punches. All of the Doorly’s rums are exported as Martin Doorly & Co., Ltd., Bridgetown.

Doorly’s Harbor Policeman is bottled in a regular bottle with the label on the next page or in a hand-painted glass figure from Italy depicting the harbor policeman from the past. I have heard this uniform is coming back.

Before the new port was built, arriving vessels anchored in Carlisle Bay and goods were bought to the carenage by lighters, or small sailing boats. The crews were paid on the quantity of goods brought ashore or delivered to the ships at anchor. Ship captains engaged the fastest crews and competition was so high that lighter traffic had to be directed by a Royal Barbados Harbor Policeman, standing in a boat at the entrance to the carenage.

John D. Taylor’s Famous White Falernum is a unique sugar cane liqueur born and bred in Barbados and a staple of the Bajan bar. As the story goes, if you want to learn to make Falernum, “you haf a learn um.” Flaernum is mixed with an equal part of rum to “corn ‘n oil” a typically Bajan drink. For Christmas, R.L. Seale and Co. Ltd. bottles a special, 14% alcohol, Velvet Falernum.

The Foursquare Distillery is only part of Heritage Park. Tours of the distillery are conducted daily but plan on spending more than a few hours here. Art and craft exhibitions, food vendors and cultural displays celebrate the rich heritage of this beautiful island. For current opening times and information call (246) 420 1977.
There are 9 products in our database distilled by R. L. Seale & Co. Ltd.
Doorly's Fine Old Barbados Rum
Doorly's Fine Old Barbados Rum XO
Doorly's Light Macaw
Doorly's Macaw Dark
Old Brigand
Old Brigand Superior
St. Nicholas Abbey Rum
Tommy Bahama White Sand Rum
Velvet Falernum

Want to stay informed?
Join the Ministry of Rum Mailing Lists

Last updated November 1, 2008