Outer Banks Distilling: Keeping Rum History and Pirate Legends Alive


“From molasses to glasses” is more than just a catchy slogan for Outer Banks Distilling in Manteo, North Carolina – it’s a belief and homage to the rum and area’s nautical histories. Let’s explore this fascinating history and showcase the premium spirits, Kill Devil Rum.

The Kill Devil Tale

The Outer Banks region is steeped in rum lore, with over 1,000 shipwrecks off the coast earning it the moniker “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” Found among those shipwrecks were barrels of rum known as “kill devil,” a potent spirit believed to be strong enough to “kill the devil.” It was often used to combat waterborne diseases.

Early colonists quickly caught on to the pirates’ secrets and the rum trade took off.


Preserving Rum History in the Outer Banks

Inspired by this rich history and a shared interst in rum, four passionate friends (Adam Ball, Kelly Bray, Scott Smith, and Matt Newsome) established Outer Banks Distilling in 2014. They converted a historic downtown Manteo furniture store building into a distillery, working tirelessly to create their first release of Kill Devil Rum just 13 months later.

Today, the distillery is a local favorite, with visitors of legal drinking age able to tour and taste premium spirits.


“From Molasses to Glasses”

Outer Banks Distilling uses only premium distillers’ grade molasses from Louisiana to create their award-winning rums. They are proud to offer three distinct varieties:

  • Kill Devil Silver Rum (in its purest form- no aging or spices)
  • Kill Devil Pecan Rum (made with locally sourced pecans and honey)
  • Kill Devil Gold Rum (the company’s flagship barrel-aged spirit)

This smooth, rich spirit spends 18 months aging in once-used bourbon barrels. The result is a complex flavor profile with hints of oak and bourbon. It makes for a super smooth sip.


To showcase their creative side, they release a new rum each year in the Shipwreck Series. It has limited availability and shows dedication to a specific local shipwreck. Outer Banks Distilling also offer two seasonal releases, Summer Solspice and Winter Solspice. Each are available for only a few hours after the solstice.

Where to Find Kill Devil Rum

If you’re 21 or older, Outer Banks Distillery invites you to come tour their distillery and indulge in a tasting. Make reservations to secure your spot. Whether you’re in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, or Washington, DC, you can find these delicious rum nearby.


Article originally written by Francesca Mazurkiewicz of The Working Moms Travels, but modified and updated by staff.

The author was hosted by Visit The Outer Banks and received a complimentary distillery tour and tasting. All thoughts and opinions are those of the author.

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Check out our other North Carolina posts:

Dirty Dancing Festival in Lake Lure

Finding the Best Desserts in Raleigh

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