St Johns® | History of St Johns Bay Rum®
A Fascinating 175 Years of History
St. John Bay Leaf Oil | Bay rum has been an integral part of the history of the Virgin Islands and its people for centuries. The use of bay leaf oils as a beauty and health remedy has been a long standing tradition. With its unique climate and exceptionally rich soil, the island of St. John provided an ideal place for bay trees to thrive and St. John bay leaf oils quickly acquired a worldwide reputation of being distinctive and superior.
The Invention of Bay Rum | In 1838, Danish chemist Albert Heinrich Riise became interested in this local remedy and discovered that by mixing St John bay leaf oils with fine Virgin Island rums, it created an amazing fragrance. His unique invention was awarded the Centennial Medal in 1876, as well as awards in New Orleans and Chicago.
The Mad Men Years | In 1957, John Webb hired a Madison Avenue agency in New York City to represent St John® in the United States and soon it could be bought in America's leading stores such as Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue. Between 1957 and 1963, a series of outstanding ads were placed in the New Yorker magazine. As a result, the distribution of St Johns Bay Rum® grew considerably and in the early sixties and was sold in the finest stores in the United States. Consumer products giant, Warner-Lambert, was so intrigued with St Johns Bay Rum that it acquired the company in 1963. With a worldwide market in mind, Warner-Lambert registered the famous St Johns trademark in countries around the world. Warner-Lambert added moisturizers, talcs, soaps, deodorants and two new fragrances, St Johns Cutlass Cologne and St Johns Indian Gold Cologne. Warner-Lambert installed the equipment to produce high-quality fragrance on St. Thomas.
Virgin Island Ownership | In 1978, Columbus, Ohio retailer Jerry Woodhouse bought the St Johns® brand from Warner-Lambert. Mr. Woodhouse concentrated on increasing sales locally on St.Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. This reestablished the St Johns brand at fine hotels, gift shops and better retailers across the Virgin Islands. Mr. Woodhouse's efforts also helped St Johns fragrances enter Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus and Brooks Brothers to name a few. Even Hollywood took notice with St Johns Bay Rum featured on episodes of M*A*S*H and movies like "Down and Out in Beverly Hills." Mr. Woodhouse introduced two new scents, St John Island Spice Cologne for men and St Johns J'ouvert for women as well as St Johns sun care products uniquely formulated for the Caribbean sun.
A New Beginning | Hurricane Marilyn in 1995 dealt a severe blow to the Virgin Islands and destroyed the St Johns factory. Dedicated employees rallied to salvage what could be recovered from the wreckage and were able to resume shipping to customers within a few weeks. With the global internet expansion, St Johns created its first E-Commerce store: stjohnsbayrum.com and starting reaching fans from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and many more. In 2007, to celebrate St Johns Bay Rum's 60th Anniversary, a limited edition bottle was produced to celebrate St Johns unique 'fishnet' bottle.
St Johns Today | In June of 2015, the St. Johns brand was acquired by a group of private investors. Together this team of industry veterans transformed St Johns into a small batch fragrance factory that exclusively produces all of St Johns award winning fragrances. During the Summer of 2016 our facility got a face lift. With new beautiful floors and the addition of cold air conditioning throughout the factory, we will be ready for guests and tours to come see where we craft our one of a kind fragrances. Together with our many loyal customers, partners and vendors, we're looking forward to celebrating St Johns 70th Anniversary in 2017.