Perhaps the time has come for Barbados to stop exporting bulk rum and bottle more of the spirits on island in order to create additional value.
This recommendation was put forward by Managing Director of Mount Gay Distilleries Ltd Raphael Grisoni, as he made a case for geographical indication (GI) to be developed for the Barbados rum so the country could better benefit from the manufacturing of the aged product.
Geographical indication refers to a sign that identifies goods as originating in a specific region in a country, and has qualities or reputation attributed to that region.
Grisoni suggested that Barbados was missing out on job opportunities and more economic earnings due to a lack of a GI.
“So what I would like to say is that it is time for emancipation. I think it is time for us to bring back the value of what we are doing here in Barbados and probably stop, and it is a bit excessive what I am saying, but probably stop exporting bulk rum and bring the value here in Barbados and value it at the maximum,” said Grisoni, while adding that other local rum producers had the same “vision”.
“We have the same vision for Barbados rum, which is to create and to continue this tradition of the genuine and authentic production,” he said.
Grisoni was speaking at the Mount Gay Distilleries’ great house in St Lucy on Wednesday night, where guests took part in the tasting and launch of a limited edition pot still rum.
He said the limited edition rum was an expression of the authentic tradition of rum production at the island’s oldest distillery.
He said there was a growing demand for aged and traditional rum, which were commanding high prices.
“So we are lucky. Right now in the world there are more and more consumers who are looking for those beautifully aged rums,” he said, pointing out that the majority of the approximately 700 bottles of limited edition pot still rum for the Barbados market were pre-sold.
Grisoni insisted that the growing demand for high quality rum was an opportunity for Barbados, pointing out that the jurisdiction had everything going for it when it came to rum production including a great tradition of distillation, aging and blending, coupled with a good tropical climate.
“This chance can be set in stone if the officials want to create a strong Barbados rum geographical indication based on indigenous practices – so fermentation, distillation, aging and blending – all done in Barbados, including bottling, which is not necessarily the case today,” he said.
“This high standard will meet the fast growing demand for authentic rum, bringing value and jobs on the island. So imagine if all the bulk rum, which is produced on the island, is bottled in Barbados, imagine the thousands of jobs that can be created on the island. So this is an opportunity that needs to be captured,” he insisted.
The Mount Gay boss pointed out that “our neighbours in the region understand that before us”, citing the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee as one example of a flourishing GI, which helped to protect that country’s coffee and create value.
He also mentioned port wine as another best practice, saying that after years of exporting a lot of bulk wine, Portugal took the decision to control the bottling in order to maintain quality.
“Since then, we saw the value of port wine going up and of course, jobs were created thanks to that. I think those two are two great examples and the reason why we should have here in Barbados a geographical indication, which is protecting our rum, and when I say protecting, it is protecting the genuine tradition of making rum,” said Grisoni.
“I am just saying that the Barbados rum tradition and reputation are based on the famous blend of column still and pot still but also the fact that the style is very dry and has always been very dry,” he said.
Column still and pot still refer to the distillation machines used to create the alcoholic spirits on a continuous and batched, respectively. [email protected]