Last year Barbados imported approximately $19.7 million in spirits and other alcoholic beverages, almost $4 million more than the previous year.
And Minister of International Business, Industry, Commerce and Trade Donville Inniss wants that figure to be reduced.
In fact, Inniss said it was imperative that rum shops and other sellers of the locally produced rum market it more.
He said too many Barbadians continued to see the local product as second class to imported spirits, adding that while he recommended that Barbadians consume the beverage in moderation, they should feel proud to make the local rum their spirit of choice.
“In 2013 Barbados imported approximately $19.7 million in spirits, liquors and other alcohol products. This is up from $15.8 million in imports in this area in 2012. Honestly, I would like to see that number decrease for it would mean saving on foreign exchange and indeed other benefits to Barbados. This means that our local bars, restaurants and shops should all make the promotion of our rums and rum-based products a priority
in the alcohol section of your places,” said Inniss, adding that his ministry would “seriously be pushing such [an] agenda”.
“It is about cultivating an appreciation and a sustainable future that moves beyond our bars and rum shops into an entire culture that transcends national boundaries and exemplifies the distinction of Barbados and its people,” added Inniss.
The minister made the comments today at the Mount Gay Visitors Centre during the official unveiling of one of the over 200-year-old rums purchased by Mount Gay Distilleries Limited recently in Britain.
Inniss said: “Just as Scotland is known for whisky, France for champagne, Jamaica for Blue Mountain Coffee, Barbados must indeed now claim its rightful ownership as the home of rum.”
“However, we cannot expect the world to recognize and celebrate with us as the home of rum if we here at home do not give it pride of place. We must simply accept the fact that home drum must beat first,” asserted Inniss.
After remaining undisturbed for well over two centuries in a British cellar, three bottles from a cache of the world’s oldest rum were returned to Barbados.
Mount Gay Distilleries Limited successfully purchased the bottles of historic Barbados rum which date back to 1780, when a total of 12 bottles were auctioned last December by Christies in London.
The unveiled rum will remain in the visitors centre while the Mount Gay officials are yet to decide what will be done with the other two bottles.