VISITING spirits professionals from the U.S. and Canada were recently introduced to regional rum producers through brand presentations and tastings that showcased the quality, diversity and versatility of rums under the Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque.
Michael Speakman, Marketing Director of St. Lucia Distillers was on hand to talk to journalists about the company and undertake a tutored tasting of their most premium rums.
The event which took place in the Dominican Republic was part of the educational campaign for the Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque and brands. thirteen opinion leaders from the spirits industry in North America were present to learn about Authentic Caribbean Rum brands and the Marque of quality and provenance and the importance of the rum industry in the socio-economic development of the region.
In addition attendees visited four different rum facilities in the Dominican Republic and Haiti to see sugar cane growing, milling, fermentation, distillation, ageing and blending through to finished product. Perhaps more important though was the opportunity to experience at first hand the culture, history, heritage and artisan passion that goes into producing Authentic Caribbean Rum.
Speaking to local journalists and international press, Chairman of WIRSPA, Dr. Frank Ward spoke of the socio-economic importance of rum to the region. With indirect employment in excess of 100,000 people, around US$550 million in foreign exchange and US$300 million in taxes linked to the industry it is the key agro-industrial sector for governments and provides a critical lifeline for local communities, as many production facilities are located in economically challenged rural areas of our region.
Speakman of St. Lucia Distillers said: “We strive to differentiate ourselves with unique products, and this event was an excellent opportunity to showcase some of these to top drinks writers from North America. We’ve been part of the Authentic Caribbean Rum from the start and it has been a great help to us in the export market. We featured our well known Chairman’s Reserve and our Forgotten Casks, which has a great story behind it, and this really strikes a chord with writers. We also had Admiral Rodney there, and as affordable super premium rum, we are now in the position of having to limit orders because our aged stock can’t keep up with demand.”
WIRSPA members agreed on the importance of the Authentic Caribbean Rum educational campaign in providing a platform for regional products to access world markets of Europe and North America. Said Dr. Ward. “Our education campaign is at last giving consumers in International markets the opportunity to really understand what we have to offer and recognise that ‘True Rum’ stands comparison with the finest in the better known categories of Cognac and Whisky”. He extended his thanks to CARIFORUM governments for continuing to support this important export sector and to the EU for their financial assistance.