West Indies Rum Distillery barbados rum geographical indication

West Indies Rum Distillery responds to Barbados GI proposal

26 February, 2020

The West Indies Rum Distillery (WIRD) has defended its stance on the recently purposed Geographic Indication for Barbados rum going against the distiller’s historic production methods.

Earlier this year a new GI was put forward by local distilleries Foursquare, St Nicholas Abbey and Mount Gay allowing Barbados rum to only be aged locally using no added sugar, local water and only pot and column stills among other regulations.

However given that the GI would favour the rum production of the three named distilleries rather than WIRD, managing director Andrew Hassell joined DI to discuss potential alternatives.

“We believe there should be a GI for Barbados but it should be inclusive and support the reputation of Barbados rum so that it can create sustainable jobs for the island and grow its economy. We’re not out to disadvantage the smaller distilleries.

“We’re all part of a family of Barbados rum it’s just that right now we have a difference in opinion as to what is tradition.”

WIRD is the second oldest distillery in Barbados behind Mount Gay and produces around 80% of the Island’s rum with a range of brands including Plantation Rum.

Some varieties of Plantation Rum use secondary ageing outside of Barbados as well as added sugar meaning that if the purposed GI comes into fruition then WIRD owner Maison Ferrand would have to remove “Barbados” from its labelling.

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Double ageing is unarguably a part of Barbados rum heritage. And it is an established historical fact that dock rums and navy rums have contributed greatly to establishing great quality rums from Barbados as we know it. ⠀ ⠀ As per our historical traditions, we carry out tropical ageing in Barbados but also the 350-years-old double ageing technique. The distillery has been making rum this way for more than a century by distilling rum in Barbados and then shipping it in its own barrels to Europe where it was further aged (London Dock Rum & Navy Rums for instance). ⠀ ⠀ This history has greatly contributed to the excellence of Barbados as we know it today. ⠀ . ⠀ . ⠀ . ⠀ #Westindiesrumdistillery #rum #rumlovers #Distillery #Craftdistillery #Barbados #Caribbean #Westindies #VisitBarbados #LoveBarbados #Bridgetown #premiumrum #rumhistory #nayrum #doubleaging #heritage ⠀

A post shared by West Indies Rum Distillery (@westindiesrumdistillery) on Feb 11, 2020 at 9:31am PST

“We have documents dating back to the 19th century to support our stance on traditional rum making,” added Hassell.

“Looking at these old documents there’s nothing that says rum cannot have added sugar from sugar cane and ultimately rum is made from sugar, we don’t think you should be using artificial sweeteners but if it’s from sugar cane then sure.

“We’re not talking about using sugar to hide defunct spirits, because adding a little bit of sugar can actually enhance the flavour of rum. There are many rums we produce which don’t have added sugar but of course for those that do, it should be clearly marked on the labels.”

In regards to using a local water source, WIRD said in a statement: “Archives show that there are historical references to rum being fermented using a hint of sea water. This is a tradition that we value, continue to apply, and want to perpetuate.

“Salt does not pass through the distillation process. Rather, it creates a specific environment for the fermentation.”

As well as the technicalities of rum production, Hassell said he doesn’t understand the mentality behind the new proposals.

He added: “Barbados is a very small place, and the distilleries generally get along well because relatives and friends work at different ones. So as a Barbadian I don’t understand it.

“At WIRD we have a team of technical experts, some who have been working at the distillery for up to 40 years. These people do not want to see the techniques they have been using for decades disappear.

“We will continue to fight to protect the entire heritage of Barbados rum and we encourage you to know all the facts and join us. The future of the diversity of Barbados rum depends on this GI outcome.”

A full statement released by WIRD on the proposed GI can be found here.

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