west indies rum distillery barbados rum geographical indication

Bailey Pryor and West Indies Rum Distillery

Why Barbados rum cannot accept WIRD proposals

03 March, 2020

Bailey Pryor, founder of The Real McCoy Rum which is produced at Foursquare Distillery in Barbados, has voiced concerns over opposition to Barbadian rum Geographic Indication proposals.

Pryor wrote to Drinks International in response to an article defending the West Indies Rum Distillery over Geographic Indication proposals.

WIRD is owned by Maison Ferrand and produces rums including Plantation Rum and Malibu but there is an ongoing debate over the establishment of a Gegraphic Indication between WIRD and the other three Barbados distilleries: Mount Gay, Foursquare and St. Nicholas Abbey.

These three distilleries want to protect the production methods of Barbados rum by prohibiting added caramel and sugar among other proposed laws. In retaliation to this WIRD released a statement addressing these proposals saying that the pruposed GI would favour the other distilleries and that WIRD’s archived documents show Barbados rum was traditionally made how they do it today. However Pryor, who has worked with Richard Seale and his team at Foursquare for more than a decade, took exception to this.

“I think it’s inaccurate to say that the GI would favour the rum production of Foursquare, Mount Gay and St. Nicholas Abbey rather than WIRD," says Pryor. "This is inaccurate because the GI treats all producers equally. There are absolutely no provisions in the Barbados GI proposal that prevent any producer from making any kind of rum they like. 

“WIRD can add as much sugar or flavoring agents or sea water or anything else they want to their Plantation Rum. Nothing in the GI prevents Plantation from being sold as rum. Malibu rum has been made at WIRD for more than a decade, with significant amounts of added sugar, but the producers of Malibu have never attempted to call the product ‘Barbados Rum’ they just call it rum. So the argument that a strict GI would favor one group over another is totally false.

“The reason why all of the distilleries on the island are in opposition to the WIRD proposal is because managing director Andrew Hassell and owner Alexander Gabriel want to be able to adulterate the rum in ways that have never been done in the 400 year history of Barbados rum production, and still call the product Barbados rum, which is an extremely valuable Geographic Identity.

“If a GI were to be enacted that allowed the adulteration of rum and still call it Barbados Rum, rather than just rum, it would be highly profitable for the adulterer seeking to mislead their customers about the quality of the product. Anyone attempting to usurp this valuable trade name for their own personal financial gain is really usurping the identity of the nation itself.

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