Sugar and rum is Barbados, and Barbados is sugar and rum. The stories are inextricably linked! The English colony of Barbados witnessed a colossal transformation of its economic fortunes following the introduction of sugar and rum
in the 1640s.
Within three decades, the Barbadian frontier economy dominated by small farmsteads, worked by indentured European labour, growing such produce as cotton and tobacco, had been replaced by large plantations worked by enslaved Africans. Cultivation of sugar cane and the windmill technology were quickly introduced by the exiled Jewish community which sought refuge in Barbados from religious persecution in Europe and Brazil, during the mid-17th century. In the ensuing years Barbados had become populated with over 500 windmills, which resulted in the island having the second highest density of these structures per square mile in the world, second only to the Netherlands.
Though small scale sugar farming took place prior to the sugar revolution in the 1640s, this early experimentation produced a new liquor known as Kill Devil, which was later called Rum, from as early as the mid-1630s, thereby making Barbados the birthplace of rum
. By the end of the century the island was said to be the richest spot of land of all the European colonies in the Caribbean region and the “brightest jewel in the British crown”. This great wealth was made possible by the forced labour of the enslaved and therefore, we owe it to them to tell this story.
Since the first settlement in 1625, Barbados was an agricultural-based economy, dominated by sugar and rum, until production of these commodities was eclipsed by tourism in the 1990’s. This rich heritage is therefore given pride of place through the introduction of the Barbados Sugar and Rum Season. This is an exciting, educational, and experiential season, which is steeped in creativity, history and authenticity. The Barbados Tourism Product Authority presents the 2018 Barbados Sugar and Rum Season!