The Real McCoy – Artisan Crafted Rum With a History

Perfect for sipping or mixing, The Real McCoy rum is distributed worldwide and can be found locally in Utah’s state liquor stores, or you can taste a bit of history at St. Regis Deer Valley and High West Distillery.

Have you ever wondered where the phrase,“the real McCoy” comes from? It all started with the enactment of Prohibition in 1920 when Bill McCoy, a Florida boat builder, went to Barbados, loaded a boat with cases of liquor and sailed up the East Coast to New York. Remaining just outside the three-mile international boundary and the law, he became a national symbol of defiance by being the first person to establish a floating liquor store, slaking the thirst of the “Roaring 20s” with millions of bottles of liquor.

Other purveyors soon copied his approach, but many diluted their product with additives like turpentine, prune juice and wood alcohol, known as “hooch,” “booze” and “rotgut.” Along “Rum Row” Bill McCoy became known for only selling high quality, unadulterated spirits, and his liquor became known as “the real McCoy.”

Fast-forward numerous decades and Th e Real McCoy Rum Founder and CEO, Bailey Pryor, came up with the idea to make rum while producing a PBS documentary film about the legendary and real Bill McCoy. During his research for the film, Bailey traveled to Barbados where he met fourth generation Master Distiller Richard Seale at his family-owned Foursquare Distillery.

“After writing, directing and producing the film, I was so into the story,” says Bailey, “and I wanted to learn to make rum.” He spent five weeks in Martinique with master blenders and distillers studying “Rhum Agricole” (“Rhum” uses sugarcane juice vs. “rum” that has a molasses base). A stint at the Ballindalloch Distillery in Scotland was then followed by an eight-year apprenticeship with Richard Seale. Bailey laughs, “What started as a lark has become a major component of our lives.”

The goal was to make a rum that actually lived up to the name “The Real McCoy”

Together, Bailey and Richard developed a classic style Barbados rum, adhering to McCoy’s strict practice of never adulterating the rum with added flavors, perfumes or sugars (some distillers add up to 92 grams of sugar per liter). On the Foursquare Distillery’s 100-acre heritage site, the process begins when sugarcane is turned into black strap molasses which is fermented for 44 hours in a closed-top fermenter tank. It’s then distilled using both a column still that produces a light balanced flavor and a copper pot still which allows bigger flavors and aromas to persist. The resulting rum is artisan crafted in small batches, authentically aged for three, five or twelve years in American Oak bourbon barrels.

Bailey’s documentary film won five Emmy Awards and Richard earned “Rum Producer of the Year” three years in a row at the prestigious International Spirits Challenge Awards, the most authoritative and influential spirits competition in the world. In 2018, Richard made the history books when The Real McCoy rum won “Supreme Champion” over all other spirits at the ISC Awards—beating out 1,700 entries from 70 countries—the first time in history that a rum was recognized as Supreme Champion.

SOURCECorinne Humphrey
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