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

Published by Carl Hedinger. Last Updated on February 29, 2024.

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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 (staying at one of these rentals, perhaps?), you’ll learn why and how this distillery existed.

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)

Read More: 40+ of the Best Things to Do in The Outer Banks (Food, Where to Stay, and More!)

Outer Banks Distilling Quick Guide

Read More: 20 Spirit-Filled North Carolina Distilleries, Liquor History, and What to Sip!

Outer Banks Distilling

The information in this guide to Outer Banks Distilling came from our research and an interview with co-owner Scott Smith.

Read More: Map of Outer Banks NC Attractions (175+ Great Places Listed!)

Outer Banks Rum History

Graveyard of the Atlantic

Before sharing more about this awesome Kill Devil Hills rum 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.”

the Graveyard of the Atlantic museum entrance sign

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

Read More: The NC Museum of History in Raleigh (+7 Things We Love About It!)

Kill the Devil with Rum

During the colonial period, many of these ships were hauling spirits in lieu of bacteria-filled drinking water. Sipping or shooting the rum served various 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 Memorial. This is how today’s Outer Banks town of Kill Devil Hills got its name.

Read More: Sanderling Resort in Duck (+ 7 Things We Love About It!)

Outer Banks Distilling’s History

The future co-owners of Outer Banks Distilling knew this history and implemented it 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

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.

Read More: Off-Season in the Outer Banks (10 Things to Do During the Colder Months)

Outer Banks Distilling Tours, Tastings, and Merch

the production facility at Kill Devil Rum distillery

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

Read More: How to Enjoy the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island (7 Important Tips!)

Kill Devil Rum (Flagships)

a bottle of kill devil rum from the outer banks

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.

Read More: 7 Wonderful Aquariums in North Carolina and How to Visit them All!

Special Releases

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

These small-batch releases include “Shipwreck,” “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 its own cocktail bar named the Wheel House Lounge, where you can buy frozen and non-frozen concoctions that incorporate their spirits.

Ready to Visit?

a room full of rum 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.

3 thoughts on “Outer Banks Distilling in Manteo (Kill Devil Rum and More!)”

  1. This place as great ! They take the time to answer your questions & the products . . . the best !! The souvenir merchandise is awesome too ! Been there last 4 yrs soon to be 5 & hope to do the tour !! 👍👍

    Reply
  2. Just a few more days till we are back in Nags Head for vacation. OBD is always a must stop for resupply of rum. The guys are all great. The tour is fun and interesting. Definitely do it you won’t be sorry.

    Reply

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