A History of Bay Rum

  • Posted on 13th August 2014 by Nick
  • Bay Rum is a tonic for the hair and gentleman’s toilette – distilled from the leaves of the Bay tree and rum.


  • The original Bay Rum was a single distilled product, created in the Virgin Islands. The largest producer of Bay Rum is still based there, on Saint Thomas.

    Traditionally the islanders would use an oil made from the leaves of the bay tree as a cooling treatment for aching joints, muscle pain, to relieve heat and massage into the skin and scalps. The islanders started to mix the oil with Rum or water.

    Whilst it was popular throughout the Caribbean and America, it was only popularised throughout Europe following Danish chemist A. H. Riise’s creation of a double distilled Bay Rum. The fragrance became more sophisticated due to the addition of citrus oils and spices such as clove, cardamom and cinnamon. Bay Rum has since become a grooming staple, found in barber shops and bathroom cabinets across the world and is still used today to leave the hair shiny.

    William Penhaligon created his own Bay Rhum, which was adapted into “Penhaligon’s Bayolea” – mixing the bay rum formula (scented with lemon, lemongrass, spices and vetiver) with glycerine, quinine tincture and honey water. Bayolea has recently been reimagined as part of our comprehensive gentlemen’s grooming collection.

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