The Significance of Rum in St Lucia

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Rum is the most popular spirit in St Lucia and is as much a part of its history and culture as the traditional dances, beloved chocolate and community-sustaining bananas. It is intrinsically linked to the people of St Lucia due to the production of sugarcane on the island.


“People knew that the molasses left behind by sugar refining fermented easily, but only the bold risked drinking it. However, put it through a still and you had a potent and palatable drink. They called it Kill-Devil, or rumbullion, “a hot hellish liquor,” – and they loved it. Rum was born.”

Ian Williams, The Secret History of Rum


How is Rum Made?

The spirit’s production begins with molasses, which is a byproduct created when sugarcane is crushed in a mill during the process of manufacturing sugar. The crushing extracts the juice from the plant fibre of the cane; this juice can be used three ways to produce different kinds of rum.


  1. You can ferment and distill the juice in its natural state. This type of rum is popular in the French West Indies.
  2. You can heat the juice and reduce it to a syrup. This syrup is used as a sweetener on its own but can also be fermented and distilled.
  3. The most common method is to process the juice into molasses and crystallised sugar. This sugar can be sold separately as a sweetener and the molasses alone is distilled. Almost all of the rum in St Lucia is produced in this way.


Both fermentation and distillation are considered sciences, and even the smallest adjustments in the process can change the flavour profile, colour, texture and scent of the finished product. Many distilleries have proprietary methods and recipes to ensure that their particular rums are completely unique and never copied.


The raw spirit is between 70% and 95% alcohol by volume. It will occasionally be bottled and sold in this state for local Caribbean markets, but most are aged, blended and are infused with various herbs, fruits or spices. It will then be diluted with water to bring the alcohol volume down to 40%-50%.


Rum in St Lucia

Sugar was introduced to St Lucia in the late 1700s. The labour intensive production provided jobs for hundreds of St Lucians and the industry thrived thanks to demand from the Caribbean and beyond. Initially, many small plantation distilleries sprung up on the island, but by the 1950s just two operational distilleries remained. Today, there is just one, known by the easy-to-remember “St Lucia Distillers Group of Companies.” It produces more than a dozen types of rum and is especially famed for its Chairman’s Reserve, 1931 and Admiral Rodney varieties.


If you choose to visit The Landings Spa & Beach Resort for an inspection tour, you can spend some of your leisure time on the “Rhythm of Rum Tour” which will involve you exploring the distillery and learning more about the history and processes involved in rum production in St Lucia. Assuming you’re of legal drinking age, you’ll also have the opportunity to purchase a bottle or two to remember the experience.


If you would like to hear more about the fascinating history and culture of St Lucia, or would like to invest in an overseas property of your own at The Landings Spa & Beach Resort, don’t hesitate to get in touch through our online contact form. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.