The Real McCoy 12 Year Rum is produced at the famous Foursquare distillery in Barbados, with the brand owned by Real McCoy Spirits. Company founder Bailey Pryor initiated his rum project as a result of making the documentary film he produced for PBS about Bill McCoy and rum runners of the Prohibition era. We’re fortunate his creative passion and ethic for authenticity led him to Barbados, a source of rum for 1920’s rum runners. I doubt if he planned to get into the spirits business before making the film, but we’re fortunate that he had the vision to cross over to another artistic discipline and bring this rum to market.
Turning to Foursquare Distillery of Barbados is entirely consistent with Bill McCoy’s reputation. The Captain was one of the most honest rumrunners of the prohibition era, never adulterating or watering down the liquors he sold. While the phrase “it’s the real mccoy” was coined decades before prohibition, it applied equally well to the rum, gin, whiskey etc that Bill McCoy sold. Like McCoy, Richard Seale, master distiller at Foursquare, is our contemporary guardian of genuine rum. He’s made many converts to his cause for transparency among rum producers, vehemently disparaging the use of additives, flavorants and sugar. Foursquare’s motto “We Do It Right” is boldly emblazoned on a huge public-facing sign at the facility.
Bill “The Real McCoy” was a legendary rumrunner. As of this writing, it’s been over 90 years since Bill McCoy was forced to stop delivering rum to America.
During Prohibition, Merchant Marine officer Bill McCoy delivering contraband whisky, rum and other spirits in his schooners Henry L. Marshal and Tomoka among others, sailing from the Bahamas and French Islands in the North Atlantic to locations off the US East Coast and Long Island. McCoy sold booze legally, staying safely outside the three-mile territorial limit until 1923, when the U.S. Coast Guard shut down his operations and seized his vessel beyond “the rum line”*. While others sold watered down liquor and moonshine with awful and dangerous chemicals (methanol, etc), Captain McCoy sold quality spirits that were the genuine article. In a characteristic act of profitable self-promotion, McCoy borrowed an expression that originated in the 19th Century, and enhanced his reputation as “The Real McCoy”.