In 1929 a group of eight local businessmen came together to buy molasses in bulk and control the distillation process for their rums. All but one of the group were successful rum shop owners. The members of the group were John R. Anjo, Joseph de Freitas, Manuel Dias, Emanuel C. Farara, Quin Farara, Emanuel Gomes, C.F. Joaquim and John A. Vieira.
They raised £2,500 as capital, and in 1932 they formed a company which they named Antigua Distillery Limited (ADL).
The directors of ADL established their own rum distillery in 1933, on leased land on Rat Island in St. John’s harbour. In the early days of this venture, Rat Island was reached by a causeway running out from lower St. John’s, but in later years extensive landfill linked the little island more directly to the mainland.
The early ADL distilling equipment was a 4 column copper Savalle still from France. For a number of years after the still was made operational the company bought molasses from the government-controlled Antigua Sugar Factory, and from the smaller, independently owned Montpelier sugar factory, which they later bought.
The first rum produced by ADL was sold un aged rum in casks to local rum merchants by allotment and aged or matured rum known as Caballero Rum. Each merchant blended and bottled the rum under a distinctive private label for sale in his rum shop. Some of the old rum labels were Red Cock, Silver Leaf, White House, Black Cock, and Bolanda. The only private label that has survived is Bolanda, which is still sold at Bushy’s Rum Shop in Bolans.
In 1947 ADL introduced its own label, Cavalier Muscovado Rum, and a lighter version of this rum, using a faster fermentation process, is still marketed today as Cavalier Antigua Rum.