Timeline of the Evolution of CRUZAN RUM

1910 – Malcolm M. Skeoch purchased Estate Diamond, which later became home to Cruzan Rum. The Skeoch family lived in the Great House, and the defunct pot still was slowly rebuilt into the future Cruzan Rum Distillery.


America purchased St. Croix and the Virgin Islands from Denmark.
A resolution calling for a Constitutional amendment to accomplish Prohibition was introduced in US Congress.

1918 – The 18th Amendment (Prohibition) was proposed to the US Senate.
Congress passed the temporary Wartime Prohibition Act.

1919 – The 18th Amendment (Prohibition) was ratified in the USA .
The Volstead Act enforcing Prohibition was enacted.

1920 – Enforcement of the 18th Amendment began in the USA and territories.

1928 – Diamond Distillery was partially destroyed by a catastrophic hurricane.
The Great Depression compounded the economic disaster.

1930-1933 – Malcolm Skeoch and son, Gordon, anticipating the Repeal of Prohibition, worked diligently to repair Diamond Distillery for the event.

1933 – Prohibition was repealed on December 05.

1934 – On January 06,the first batch of Cruzan Rum was distilled.
Also in 1934, for the purpose of distilling and selling Cruzan Rum, Malcolm and Annie Skeoch founded The Diamond Rum Company.

1936 – Malcolm Skeoch of The Diamond Rum Company, joined by Malcolm (Harry) Armstrong and Victor Gibeon of Santa Cruz Distillers, along with Robert S. (Selwyn) Fleming, and Howard M. Wall of Oregon, formed St. Croix Sugar Cane Industries, Inc. to market and distribute Cruzan Rum and Santa Cruz Rum.

1936 – Label Registration No 48,184 for Cruzan was assigned to St. Croix Sugar Cane Industries Sales Corp of Portland Oregon (market division of St. Croix Sugar Cane Industries, Inc.) and registered in the United States Patent Office.

1941 – Victor Gibean sold his interest in St. Croix Sugar Cane Industries, Inc to Gordon M. Skeoch, and, his shares in Santa Cruz Distillers to St. Croix Sugar Cane Industries, Inc.

1944 – In Articles of Partnership dated July 01, 1944, signed by Malcolm M. Skeoch, Robert S. Fleming, Malcolm K. Armstrong, Gordon M. Skeoch, and Howard M. Wall, St. Croix Sugar Cane Industries, Inc. was dissolved as a corporation, and immediately re-formed as a partnership d/b/a St. Croix Sugar Cane Industries. Santa Cruz Distillers merged with The Diamond Corporation to form the above partnership, and by Deed of Conveyance dated September 12, 1944 Santa Cruz Distillers sold its entire business and real estate at Hermon Hill to St. Croix Sugar Cane Industries.

Mid to late1940’s & 1950’s

Pot still rum distillation was converted to continuous column still production resulting in a refined high grade rum.

circa 1948/1950 Malcolm Skeoch hired Cedric C. Nelthropp for accounting and the distillery.

1953St. Croix Sugar Cane Industries wasdissolved as a partnership and immediately re-formed as a corporation in The Articles of Incorporationof St. Croix Sugar Cane Industries, Inc., dated December 16, 1953, and signed by Gordon M. Skeoch, Cedric C. Nelthropp, Miles M. Skeoch, Warren H. Young. It was comprised of a rum distillation and sales division, plus an agricultural section for growing, harvesting and selling sugar cane, as well as other fruits, vegetables and livestock.

Mid 1950’sHerminio Brau, a brilliant chemical engineer from Puerto Rico, was contracted to dramatically upgrade Cruzan Rum distillation. He was largely responsible for enlarging and modernizing the continuous column stills, primarily designing new stripping columns, rectifying columns, fusel columns, and heads columns.

1959 – Donald C. (Hardy) Nelthropp, also a engineer, was recruited by Gordon Skeoch to join Cruzan Rum.

1961 – The owners and managers of St. Croix Sugar Cane Industries, Inc. in 1961 (Gordon M. Skeoch, Cedric C. Nelthropp, Miles M. Skeoch, Donald C. Nelthropp, Warren H. Young) sold 80% of their corporation to Schenley Industries, Inc. but remained as local officers and managers.

1964 – Schenley bought the remaining 20% of St. Croix Sugar Cane Industries Inc. and the name was changed first to Cruzan Rum Distillery and then to Virgin Islands Rum Industries Limited (VIRIL). Gordon Skeoch resigned as President, but stayed on Chairman of the Board. Ceddie Nelthropp became President; Hardy Nelthropp, Vice President; and Miles Skeoch, Treasurer and Manager of the Barreling and Bottling Plant.

1966 – The growing and harvesting of Sugar Cane completely ceased in St. Croix.

1972 – Annie and Malcolm Skeoch, still residing in their Diamond House home, died a few months apart. Consequent to that event, the Great House was later sold to Schenley to be renovated into the Corporate Headquarters of Cruzan Rum. That renovation was completed in the mid 1990’s.

1976 – Gordon Skeoch and Miles Skeoch, the last of the Cruzan Rum Skeoch family, retired from their respective positions.

1976 – 2009 – Cruzan Rum went through multiple off-island owners, with Beam Inc., Global Spirits & Wine being the most recent ones as of 2009. During that period, the local managers were the Nelthropps and Marvin Pickering who generated tremendous business growth including increased output, new flavors, new markets, improved facilities, and, major structural rebuilding necessitated by the devastation from Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

Beyond 2009 – Expectations are for continued growth and success.

Copyright © 2020 Gwendolyn E. Skeoch All Rights Reserved