NOTE: We are not advocating mass travel during this time, but we do want to continue to support the incredible businesses and destinations that make North Carolina so amazing. In the meantime, we encourage you to virtually travel through our articles and plan your visits for when it is safe to do get out there. Finally, while we do work hard to keep our posts updated, some activities and places may not be accessible at this time.
Outer Banks Distilling in Manteo produces amazing spirits that serve as a tasty homage to OBX rum history.

Outer Banks Distilling in Manteo (Kill Devil Rum and More!)

You’ve probably seen Kill Devil Rum in ABC stores throughout North Carolina. In case you’ve tried this amazing spirit and loved it (like us!), then you should visit its producers—Outer Banks Distilling in Manteo!

At the time of writing, they’re the only distillery in the Outer Banks and one of the only rum-makers in North Carolina. If you’re lucky enough to visit them in person in the OBX town of Manteo on Roanoke Island, you’ll learn why and how this distillery came into existence.

This guide will introduce you to OBX Distilling and offer insight into the history of rum in the Outer Banks and more. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll find as you continue reading:

  • Outer Banks Distilling Quick Guide (Location, Website, and Social Media Info)
  • Outer Banks Rum History
  • Outer Banks Distilling’s History
  • Outer Banks Distilling Tours, Tastings, and Merch
  • Kill Devil Rum (Flagships and Special Releases)
  • Cocktails
  • More Things to Do in the Outer Banks (Related Posts)

This post is part of our series on all the awesome things to do along the Outer Banks. We’ve also featured OBX Distilling in our guides covering North Carolina distilleries and also, our favorite Off-Season Things to Do in the Outer Banks.

Outer Banks Distilling Quick Guide

Outer Banks Distilling

The information in this guide to Outer Banks Distilling came from our own research and an interview we conducted with co-owner Scott Smith that will air in a future NC Travel Chat.

Outer Banks Rum History

Graveyard of the Atlantic

Before sharing more about this awesome distillery, let’s talk rum.

Interestingly, rum has a long relationship with the barrier islands, which is one of our favorite Outer Banks facts. It’s one of the most intriguing facts about North Carolina you’ll find.

Thanks to the tough nature of its seas, shifting sandbars, and intense storms (hurricanes and nor’easters), more than 5,000 shipwrecks have occurred off these shores. As such, the Outer Banks earned its nickname as “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”

OBX Distilling Company Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum Hatteras Island

A really cool museum commemorates this history down in Hatteras Island.

Kill the Devil with Rum

During the colonial period, many of these ships were hauling spirits in lieu of bacteria-filled drinking water. Sipped or shooting the rum served a variety of purposes, including medicinal ones. Legends arose that stated this spirit could, in fact, kill the devil inside you.

This is why many referred to one particular batch as “Kill Devil,” which ended up as the first name for rum.

More than a few barrels of Kill Devil reached our shores and many folks hid them in the sandy hills near today’s Wright Brothers National Monument. This is how today’s Outer Banks town of Kill Devil Hills got its name.

Outer Banks Distilling’s History

The future co-owners of Outer Banks Distilling knew this history and put it into action in 2013. As Scott Smith told us, “We knew we were going to make rum here on the Outer Banks. Wherever you see saltwater, there are people drinking rum.”

Scott, Matt Newsome, Adam Ball, and Kelly Bray became friends at Outer Banks Brewing Station, getting together to plan and write their business plan, and look for property to operate.

Outer Banks Distilling Building

They eventually came across a 7,200 square foot building in Manteo. Built in 1946, it had been sitting empty for 11 years and, according to Scott, “It had good structure, good bones. So we came in and started working with the town and we put an offer on it.”

At the time, downtown Manteo was the only place capable of handling the wastewater and filtration systems that Outer Bank Distilling would need to maintain operations.

Everything was contingent on approvals from the town, but Smith says everyone in the area supported their effort. It took the four about a year to renovate the building. Opening day was on February 26, 2015.

Outer Banks Distilling Tours, Tastings, and Merch

Outer Banks Distilling Production Floor

North Carolina liquor laws have since loosened up, but when OBX Distilling first opened, you couldn’t even sell your own bottles from the distillery.

Back then, you could only do tours, offer tastings, and sell non-alcoholic merchandise. Today, they still do all three, the tours filling up pretty quickly during the busy times from March/April through the end of summer.

During the hour-and-15 minute tour, you’ll see the production facility, learn more about the rum history we shared earlier, and finish up with a tasting of some fine Kill Devil Rum.

Kill Devil Rum (Flagships)

Outer Banks Distilling Kill Devil Rum

Speaking of that rum, you can always find it in stores away from the distillery, but one major reason to visit OBX Distilling (besides the wonderful smells) is to get a look at the rum in production.

Outer Banks Distilling’s three Flagship Rums (Silver, Pecan, and Gold) are typically found in ABC stores throughout North Carolina. “Silver” is their clear rum, “Pecan” is an interesting mix of honey, pecans, and butterscotch, while “Gold” is their amazing white oak barrel-aged flagship.

Special Releases

You can try all three Kill Devil Rums when visiting but there’s an even bigger incentive to stop by this distillery—special releases!

These small-batch releases include “Shipwreck” and “Solspice,” and the Angels’ Share! If you’re familiar with distilling, you’ll know that the last one refers to the percentage of liquor that’s lost to evaporation.

At OBX Distilling, they donate the proceeds from their Angels’ Shares to local community organizations around the Outer Banks! If you haven’t been convinced yet to visit, hopefully you are now!

Cocktails

We mentioned North Carolina’s evolving liquor laws earlier; in recent years, distilleries have been allowed to sell their spirits, and, as of September 2019, open cocktail bars on their premises.

Outer Banks Distilling added their own cocktail bar named the Wheel House Lounge, where you can buy frozen and non-frozen concoctions that incorporate their spirits.

Ready to Visit?

Outer Banks Distilling Barrels

If you enjoy rum (responsibly), I encourage you to seek out Outer Banks at your local ABC Store in North Carolina (also, Virginia and Washington DC at Scheider’s of Capitol Hill). If you’re in either of these places and don’t see them, simply ask for more Kill Devil Rum.

Of course, if you love the smell of rum or enjoy rum-soaked pecans, you should visit Outer Banks Distilling and see the production facility in person!

If you’re familiar with Manteo, you’ll know that Outer Banks Distilling isn’t too far from Waterfront Park and other fun things to do in the small town.

You can also follow their latest happenings and updates on Facebook and Instagram.

More Things to Do in the Outer Banks

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