Bahama Bob's Rumstyles

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Clairin Casimir Rhum is Being Recalled in the United States for Lead Contamination

What you need to know about the TTB’s recall of the Haitian eaux-de-vie
     Clairin Casimir rhum is facing a voluntary recall. One of a select number of clairins—an eaux-de-vie similar to white agricole rhums—produced in Haiti and distributed in the United States, the Casimir brand is being recalled due to the presence of lead. The distributor, MHW, based in Manhasset, New York, initiated the recall on Wednesday.

     The lead discovery came in response to a consumer complaint placed with the Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau (TTB) this summer. “The TTB receives consumer complaints on a regular basis,” says Tom Hogue, director of Congressional and Public Affairs for the TTB, all of which they investigate. Some of those complaints lead nowhere, suggests Hogue, while others end up in a recall. During this investigation, the TTB obtained a bottle of Clairin Casimir Rum from Vanderbilt Wine Merchants in Brooklyn, New York, on August 8, and analyzed it for the presence of prohibited materials. Upon determining that the Casimir had elevated lead levels of 138 parts per billion, they consulted with the FDA to determine whether lead at those levels, present within an alcoholic beverage, met the standard of being a health hazard.   On October 9, the TTB sent MHW a letter requesting their participation in a voluntary recall, which MHW initiated on October 10.
     While the value of 138 ppb sounds excessive, whether it meets the standard of high risk has—to some extent—to do with the delivery mechanism. Lead levels in apple juice, for example, which is commonly consumed by children face a lower threshold than lead levels in beverages whose consumption is limited to adults, according to the TTB. In 1993, the FDA established that lead levels should not exceed 80 ppb in juice packed in lead-soldered cans. Since then, Codex Alimentarius Commission, an international food standards organization that establishes safe levels for the protection of consumers, further established a maximum level of 50 ppb for lead in ready-to-drink fruit juices.    In response to the TTB’s request for analysis, the FDA affirmed that the lead levels in Clairins Casimir posed a health risk, particularly for women of childbearing age and for any developing fetus that might be exposed. The TTB’s October 9 letter explains that, according to the FDA, the blood lead level (BLL) in pregnant women should be no higher than 5 micrograms per deciliter to limit lead exposure to a developing fetus, and that 12.5 micrograms of lead per day would achieve this 5 BLL. Per the FDA’s calculations, the 138 ppb of lead would result in an intake of 17 micrograms per day. It also stated that lead and alcohol—which can cause toxicity to the brain of a developing child—could also be more hazardous in combination than as separate parts.   According to Herbert Linge, president of Berling S.A., the bottler of the Casimir, the company has also tested the rum and found lead levels to be lower than those reported by the FDA and TTB, and within acceptable limits. They are currently awaiting additional testing results from California, where the rum is also in distribution. La Maison & Velier, the importer who first brought clairin to the U.S. and Italy, had the Casimir tested in Italy and also found lower lead levels. Those reports have been sent to the TTB.
     “The bottles are also completely within the parameters of European safety, so this is a U.S. recall only,” says Kate Perry, U.S. market manager for La Maison & Velier. Allowable lead levels in Europe are 150ppb, therefore, the recall is limited to the U.S.   For now, bartenders and retailers should remove any Clairin Casimir from inventory. MHW is encouraging consumers who have bottles to call 516-869-9170 ext. 306 for instructions on returns and reimbursement.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry Rum Best European Spirit / Bar Product at Mixology Bar Awards 2019 in Berlin

      Just released a few months ago, Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry Rum has won its first Best European Spirit/Bar Product at the Mixology Bar Awards 2019 in Berlin.  The Mixology Bar Awards is the kickoff to Bar Convent Berlin, considered the world’s largest bar-focused trade show. 

     With Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry Rum was a dive into the iconic culture that is unique to Jamaica rums.  Working with the complex flavors of overripe exotic fruits with an almost “animal intensity” this rum is a tribute to this ancestral culture of rum.  The name pays homage to the history of Jamaica and “Xaymica” the name that was given Jamaica originally by those that originally dwelled on the island.

     Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry revives the quintessential Jamaican-style, 100% pot still rums of the 19th century with an expression of intense flavors that reveal the traditional, legendary Jamaican “rum funk.” Plantation Xaymaca is a blend of rums distilled in the old John Dore pot still at Long Pond and the Vendome pot still at Clarendon, two legendary Jamaican distilleries, owned in part by Maison Ferrand, producer of Plantation Rums.   Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry is bottled at 43% ABV,86 proof, and a suggested price of $24.99.  It is available in the U.S. today.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Getting to Havana, a Great Part of the Journey

First Sight of Cuba From the Air

Baseball Field at a Factory
Amusement Park West of Havana
     We lifted off from Key West International Airport about 8:30 am banked to the right and we were off to Cuba.  The flight took close to an hour, which flew by very quickly and out the side window I noticed the Cuban coastline.   As we began our approach to Jose Marti Airport, I began to notice a lot of things on the ground as we dropped out of the clouds for our final approach.

Heading to Work
Getting to Work is Interesting
     After landing, we got aboard a car and headed from the airport to Havana.  The trip on the ground was as interesting as the flight.  People headed to bus stops and driving down the road headed for work.  Everything from cars, buses, horse drawn carts, scooters or walking; they do what they have to do to get to their jobs like we have to in the United States.

Waiting for the Bus
Traffic is beginning to Build as we Approach Havana
     It took almost as long to get from the airport to Havana as it did to get to Cuba in the first place.  The trip was an eyeful as we were in a traffic jam most of the way.  The part that makes the trip the most interesting is what you find on the road.  It is like we went through a time warp to 1959 and the cars and transportation seems to be like it was back then.  Once we got to Havana, the fun began, a story I'll fill you in on on a later date.

Arriving in Downtown Havana With the Jose Marti Memorial in Front of Us

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

United States Supreme Court to Revisit the Issue of Interstate Wine and Spirits Shipping

United States Supreme Court

     For the first time in more than a decade, the U.S. government has shown a willingness to reevaluate how wine and spirits are sold, both within and between various states in the country.  In fact, the case of Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Clayton Byrd (Tenn. v. Byrd) represents only the second such move by the high court since the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.  When Prohibition was repealed, the U.S. government decided that the safest way to regulate alcohol sales was by giving each state the right to decide how wine and spirits were sold within its borders. That resulted in a fractured legal arrangement in which almost every state handled the sale and shipment of drinks differently.

     Whether major retailers will be able ship into adjoining states, or across the country, as a result of this case is the most important question that will be answered by the Court’s judgment. Its ruling will define consumer access to wine and potentially provide more competitive pricing.  Retailers may soon be able to ship into more states depending on how the court votes. This is all contingent on whether, “the case is upheld in the Supreme Court and if the states start to pass amendments to their direct shipping laws.”   “Retailers have long been saying this principle of nondiscrimination should apply to them as well as wineries. It seems to me impossible that the Court will not answer this question in the coming case. If the court applies the principles of Granholm to retailers, then many states will need to change their laws and decide if they want out-of-state retailers to ship.

     However, whatever changes the court case may bring will take some time to implement. “The change won’t be immediate. States would still need to adopt legislation and regulations to allow for shipping, delivery, and collection of taxes.” 

     The outcome of this case will make a huge difference in the wine, beer and spirits business.  For the consumer, it is a chance to get a hold of brands and expressions that have not been available to get in their home town or state.  I for one,  have to travel many miles to get some of the rums that I enjoy.  If it was like everything else in this country, that I need I just order it on line and it is delivered to me even here in Key West.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Fantasy Fest 2018 Starts This Friday

     Fantasy Fest 2018 begins on Friday October 19th with the famous Bahama Village's annual Goombay Festival and comes to and en on Sunday October 28th with the "Fat Lady Sings Tea Dance".  

      2018 Fantasy Fest offers you an endless pool of ideas for putting your personal touch the its theme, “The Games We Play”.  What a great concept. Whether you are a single player, multiplayer, or just a player, this year's theme is sure to get your cranium creating some costume ideas. Become your favorite game show host, bring to life your childhood board games, or transport yourself into your most loved netherworld. The ideas are endless, so roll the dice on your favorite game to play and meet us in Key West for a game worth playing!

     The Schedule for this years festivities are here for you to get to work on your costumes and get down here to enjoy this great week of craziness and fun.
 All the information you will need is at

Monday, October 15, 2018

Steampunk Spirits Introduces Its First Rum

     UK-based spirits maker Steampunk has expanded its portfolio with the launch of Voodoo Spiced Rum, the company’s first rum expression.   The firm, which currently makes Steampunk Gin, has created the expression using a blend of Caribbean rums infused with vanilla, ginger and black pepper.
    Charlie Gibbs, managing director of Steampunk spirits, said: “More and more people are seeking new and interesting taste experiences, and we’ve come up with something that offers an alternative and contemporary take on a classic drink.  “Our unique bottle design sets us aside from any other brand on the market – it tells a story – channeling the voodoo mysteries of Baron Samedi, who dwells in the realm between life and death, and is known for his fondness of rum and a good time. Yes, we’re a little out of the ordinary here at Steampunk.”
     Bottled at 40% abv, Steampunk’s Voodoo Spiced Rum is currently available at and The Rare Drop, in Gateshead, retailing at $32.00.  Unfortunately, this is not available yet in the United States, but it does sound interesting.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Along the Rio Almendares in "Old Havana"

     A new place for me, The Marina along Rio Almendares is another trip back into the days of wooden boats and rugged mariners.  Most of the boats here have been around for a lot of years and are still very serviceable. Many of these are out on a daily basis.  I love finding these eclectic places that can be seen throughout "Old Havana".

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Famed Hotel Presidente in Havana

Famed Hotel Presidente in Havana
Surf Breaking Over the Malecon

     The Hotel Presidente was opened by the then President of the Republic Gerardo Machado, on December 28th 1928.  It was at Calzada street and G Avenue, in El Vedado.  The building was the  masterpiece of Architect Tella & Son providing everything a hotel could expect in comfort and luxury. Steel structures were used during construction, the first two levels stone built and the rest with bricks.

     In 1981 a 2 million pesos renovation was undertaken adding additional services on the ground level including a bar, shop and a modern cabaret. A central air conditioning system was also installed, providing a new level of comfort in the hotel.   A complete restoration in the year 2000, lifted this  hotel to a level of comfort that is expected in a modern hotel.  Tdhe Hotel Presidente where many famous political, business and artistic figures have stayed, still echoes a bygone era. Meticulous care has been taken to preserve all the historical details of its original construction and décor.  Visitors will immediately be struck by the 400 works of art, an impressive Cuban legacy, housed within its walls.

     Located in downtown Havana, only 200 meters from the famous Pier of  the famous Havana Malecon, on the well-known Avenue of the Presidents and flanked by the Cuban Forign Office, the 10 story Hotel Presidente with its striking vermilion and beige colors is a building steeped in history. 

     Being able to wander around the streets along the famed Malecon on the northern edge of Havana, where the city meets with the sea.  I love to run across many of the truly historic building that make up the mystique that is "Old Havana". 


Friday, October 12, 2018

Glasgow Gets First Rum Distillery in 300 Years

     Wester Spirit Co. is set to open a new rum distillery in Glasgow’s Partick in November – the first for the city in over 300 years, say the company.  Wester Spirit Company is the brainchild of Zander Macgregor and Allan Nairn, who are both based in Glasgow.

     It has moved away from conventional copper stills in favor the multi-faceted future of stainless steel. The Still is equipped with fully programmable technology to increase the efficiency of the distilling process and has the option of manual control to allow changes to the smallest details in the flavor profile.  According to the distillery, the Genio still will allow Wester Spirit Company to reproduce its recipe with “unrivaled accuracy”.

     Combined, this helps to create a spirit hand-crafted with intuition, expertise and enhanced flavor with guaranteed consistency.  The distillery will also provide the opportunity for the brand to meet the growing demand for spiced rum by increasing the production limit from 250 bottles per month to 6000. 

Learn more about Wester Spirit Company at

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Demon Alcohol: What Will They Blame on it Next?

     It seems that never does a week goes by that a new report that tries to demonize the moderate use of alcohol.   It is beginning to sound like the days leading up to Prohibition in the 1920’s.  The latest one came out this week by Washington University linking moderate use of alcohol with “premature death”.  Unfortunately, most of these studies are more about binge or power drinking and being related to a moderate use of alcohol.

     Use of alcohol is being made responsible for just about every affliction to mankind as well condition of the world today.  The devil himself could not do all of the things that alcohol is being blamed for.  If we spent as much money researching cures for known diseases as we do looking for trouble where there is very little, the world would be a lot healthier.

     We have tried to use the law to get people to stop drinking and it doesn’t work. The recommendations of all these “new studies” included the same dusty proposals that have been pushed by anti-alcohol activists since the end of Prohibition.   The calls for more taxes, advertising restrictions, and further limitations on alcohol availability. These policies might all sound good on paper, but they do little to curtail legitimately dangerous drinking habits.  They have tried all the same tactics related to the use of cannabis and now they are legalizing it and people are not using it any more or less than they did when it was illegal, only differences is they don’t have to be “outlaws” to enjoy it.

     The good news for those of us that do enjoy an occasional alcoholic beverage is that many of these assertions are overblown and not backed up by the available science.  It is like most everything else in this world including food, a little bit is fine, but over do it and you will suffer.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Day of Rum Tasting in Havana

     Today is a Day of Rum Tasting in Havana, Cuba.   It is always a wonderful day when I get to spend it in Havana, seeing some of my many friends and enjoying all that makes Havana so special.  To be able to go there and introduce customers to the local rum expressions and spend an afternoon sharing the rums with them couldn't make me happier.

     Going to Havana is like looking a an old photo album and then stepping into the picture and being able to walk around and explore like a time traveler.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Michael Comes to Visit Key West

Pouring Rain outside of Captain Tony's
     Unlike a year ago, Michael is just sending some his bands to visit us in Key West.  The center of Michael is mostly effecting the Gulf of Mexico.  Moving to the North-west and looking like it is going to be an issue for the "panhandle of Florida and then into Georgia,South Carolina and North Carolina dropping just a ton of rain on an area that Florence has already devastated.
winds in the realm of 30 mph and a ton of rain falling, but it is just a day of mild nuisances here in Key West.   The center of the storm is about 210 miles to the west of us and for the most part i

     For all of us in the Keys it is a rain event, with very mild winds.   All of us here are very thankful for this aftr all of the troubles that Irma brought us just over a year ago.
Looking out to the Northwest from Sunset Marina at the Rain and Cloudiness

Monday, October 8, 2018

One Drop, The Latest From the People That Brought You Afrohead

     Now, the man behind Afrohead, master blender Toby Tyler, has launched his newest project, “One Drop” Rum, a rum hand-bottled in Harbour Island in The Bahamas that is a blend of 10- and 12-year-old Jamaican rum.  This is a full departure from Afrohead, a rum that comes from Trinidad.

     When it made its debut four years ago, Harbour Island’s Afrohead rum sent a shockwave through the industry.   Its superb design on the label and its drinkability was a wonderful and refreshing addition to the Caribbean’s rums.  It was bold, cool and, unlike so many other rum launches in recent years, it took in the traditions and history of the Bahamas.   Afrohead still needs more of a reminder to consumers that it is a classy premium rum expression and not simply a mixing partner for Coca-Cola.

     The aroma is a delight, with notes of candied tropical fruit, it has an exciting aroma that has notes of rhum agricole.   The flavor profile is marked by buttery apricot, pure vanilla bean, stone fruit and a hint of a dried-fruit.  This is a medium-bodied rum with a wonderful long-lasting finish.   Unlike many of the rums from Jamaica, with an overt funkiness, One Drop has got a real drinkability.  It is a marriage of funky with a smooth flavor and drinkable expression that can be enjoyed by both the lover of Jamaican and more traditional Caribbean rums.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Sitting Under the Shade of Your Local Palm Tree

     Sitting on the beach gazing out on the Atlantic Ocean is so relaxing for me.  Nothing like sitting there and just being able to zone out and let the world turn from black an white to shades of gray and hours of rum and relaxation.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Rum Has Made Strides to Return in 2018

     Its place in the canon of British inebriation was cemented thanks to the adventurous but often brutal history of imperialism.   Some of its earliest distillers were plantation slaves in the Caribbean, who fermented alcohol out of molasses from the sugar cane they were forced to harvest.  Kill-devil, as rum was often called, soon became intrinsic to Britain’s seafaring history, used variously as a way to stave off scurvy and as payment for thirsty sailors. The Royal Navy’s daily rum ration, or “tot”, was only abolished in 1970.  When Admiral Nelson died, according to legend his body was soused in brandy or rum to preserve it for the voyage home.  On arrival the booze had already been drained by thirsty sailors who had drilled a hole in the barrel, earning another nickname: “Nelson’s Blood”.   Throughout the British colonies, rum was used as currency and was made in many of the colonies and a major part of the "Triangle Trade".

     “The challenge with any spirit is to present it in its naked form with access to all of its benefits and faults,” said Walters. “With rum you need a lot of expertise.”  Unlike gin, which can be made relatively quickly with little more than ethanol and botanicals, rum is expensive and fiddly.  Importing molasses is costly – Walters gets his from Venezuela – while the tarry syrup is messy and hard to handle.  Yields are typically low because yeast, required for fermentation, does not respond well to the acidity of molasses.  “All the commercial odds are stacked against you,” Walters said.  Nonetheless, the effort is paying off. Sales of his three brands, led by flagship Old Salt Rum, were 40% higher than 2016, leapfrogging vodka sales in the process.

      “Rum cocktails are some of the most popular ones ... mojitos, daiquiris. And there’s a rise in tiki-style drinks too, Mai Tai’s, Pina Coladas etc.  “They not only use rum in abundance but may use several in one cocktail.”  He is also predicting an upsurge for spiced rums, usually made using imported spirits and infused with spices and other ingredients such as fruit peel.     People have gone to bourbon, whiskey and gin, but the natural sweetness and flavor of a good premium rum is bringing them back into the fold.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Do the Airports and Airlines Need Stricter Alcohol Control?

     Bar operators in airports are facing turbulent times thanks to passengers drinking to excess before take-off. Airlines want limits brought in to take care of the issue.   On any other occasion, a cocktail before breakfast would be likely to raise some issues. But once you’ve made it past airport security, an alcoholic beverage – even at 7 am, doesn’t seem quite so out of place.  There has been a substantial rise in the number of disruptive passenger incidents in the skies worldwide, causing calls to curb alcohol sales at airports.
     Being disruptive aboard a flight carries serious consequences, anyone disrupting a flight risks prosecution for being drunk on board an aircraft, acting in a troublesome manner or endangering the safety of an aircraft or its passengers can lead to a five­-year or longer prison sentence.   With the increasing number of incidents, Airlines and government officials are for more prosecutions to curb the violent and drunken behavior by airline passengers “The abusive behavior on an airplane is totally unacceptable, it upsets everyone else as well as jeopardizing flight safety.   
     It’s important that the airports and the airlines introduce preventative measures to curb excessive drinking, both at the airports and aboard the aircraft.  It is felt that this action would reduce problems being created, rather than allowing passengers to drink to excess before and during their flights.   Pointing the finger at one side or the other does little to find a solution, a team effort is of both ground and airline personnel can provide a powerful form of persuasion.   The International Air Transport Association (IATA) joined forces with the travel industry to launch a campaign designed to raise awareness of flying responsibly.   The spirits industry’s idea of  drinking less but better has good response from consumers, trading up to more premium brands and embracing the less of higher quality is better.  This message of moderate consumption needs to travel through to airport and airline industries as well.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

October is "Old Fashioned" Month and This is Week #1

     The history of the Old Fashioned is the history of cocktails.  It starts with “slings”, that in the early 1800’s was “liquor, water and sugar”.  The evolution of the cocktail changed it in the middle of the century, becoming a “bittered sling”.  Composed of liquor, water, sugar, and bitters, so what happened to the Old Fashioned?  How did it go from a Whiskey cocktail to its present place where there are so many varieties and ways to make it today?   As cocktails became more complex, many “improved” variations on existing recipes started to come into vogue in the late 1800s.  In order to differentiate between these newfangled elixirs and the original, patrons who wanted a glass of bourbon, sugar, and bitters without all the new stuff would ask for an “Old Fashioned” whiskey cocktail. This was quickly shortened to simply an “Old Fashioned”, the name under which it’s been known as for many decades since.
     The key to a good “Old Fashioned”, no matter what you use for liquor is the orange zest. You want to get a good, healthy chunk of fresh orange peel, with as little pith as possible, and you want to muddle it, releasing the essential oils to join the sugar, but the important thing is to mash that peel up good. The “Old Fashioned” is not clear, it is a murky cocktail, if it isn’t, you haven’t muddled enough.  The standard “Old Fashioned” is quite simple.  2.5 oz. Bourbon, 1 Sugar Cube, Heavy Dash Angostura Bitters and an Orange Zest.  Muddle the orange peel, sugar, and bitters at the bottom of a mixing glass until the orange peel is thoroughly beaten up. Add the bourbon and ice and stir thoroughly. Strain into a chilled “rocks glass” filled with fresh ice and garnish with an orange zest.

Bahama Bob’s Rum “Old Fashioned”
  • 2 ½ oz. Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum
  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • 2 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • 2 Orange Zests

The Cocktail is made the same way as the original, but good rum is the real significant difference.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Mount Gay Launches Limited Edition Peat Smoked Rum

     Rémy Cointreau-owned Mount Gay Rum has released the first bottling of its Master Blender Collection – XO, The Peat Smoke Expression.  Mount Gay master blender Allen Smith created the smoky iteration, which is a blend of column and pot still rums that have been matured for eight to 15 years in American oak barrels.  Only 6,120 bottles have been created, with 1,200 allocated for sale in the US at an RRP of US$250.     Bottled at 57% abv, Mount Gay XO, The Peat Smoke Expression is said to have aromas of stewed fruit, caramel, chocolate, Bourbon vanilla and smoke, with a “velvety texture” on the palate.   Last year, Mount Gay expanded its portfolio with the launch of Mount Gay 1703 Master Select, made with a blend of copper column and copper pot rums aged between 10 and 30 years.

      “It is with great pride that we introduce you to the first edition of our Master Blender Collection: XO The Peat Smoke Expression. For this limited edition, I have worked to capture the perfect balance of elegant rum overtones and mellow, peated whisky undertones. This one-of-a-kind blend is sure to please the most discerning of palates with its unconventional character, freshness and aromatic complexity.” Allen Smith   A long-standing Barbadian tradition, Mount Gay rums are handcrafted from a blend of single column and double copper pot distillates and matured in toasted oak barrels, delivering aromatic, flavorful taste, body and refined character.
          This limited edition is now available for Pre-Order. Orders will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis until inventory has sold out. Orders will be available for shipping by the week of October 15th. Your credit card will be charged at the time of shipping.   This product is only available for delivery in the following states: AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, IL, LA, MD, MA, MI, MO, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NY, ND, SC, TX, WA, WI, WY.

 “Every great story begins with a time and a place. For Mount Gay, that time and place is the Caribbean Island of Barbados, where we've been making rum since 1703.ORIGINS Mount Gay Rum is the product of 315 years of knowledge, experience, and refinement applied to the process of making rum. Each of our rum’s complex flavors have been coaxed from natural ingredients: only the finest sugar cane molasses and pure Bajan water that's filtered through the coral heart of the island are selected to create Mount Gay rums. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The States That Drink the Most Alcohol in America, Mapped and Ranked

     How do your drinking habits stack up against your neighbors’? And how about versus those on the opposite side of the country?   We analyzed data from annual alcohol surveys and reports to see who is drinking the most, and where.

     The East Coast is home to three of the top five hardest-drinking states, although no region stands alone. The 30 states consuming more than 2.31 gallons of alcohol per year are pretty geographically diverse, stretching from Maine to Texas to California to Hawaii.  Utah residents consume the least alcohol, perhaps unsurprisingly, given the state’s robust drinking laws (although there are creative distillers making their making the state’s capital).

     Curious to know where your state lands?   

Monday, October 1, 2018

Richard Seale

     Richard Seale has published on his Facebook page a document that refers to the protection of Barbados Rum.  This is a very important document that will lead to giving their rums a special set of rules that determine their “Geographical Indication”.  This is a very necessary thing to take rum out of the realm of a pirates concoction that can be made in any way a person wants to, adding anything they want to as long as it is made from a derivative of the sugarcane is rum.  Barbados, like Jamaica and Martinique, want their rum to be specific to their geographic locations.  

As Jamaica has completed their Geographical Indication for “Jamaican Rum” and Barbados moves to completion of their GI, it becomes increasingly important to dispel the canards around this important process.
With rum we have many canards - rum has no rules - rum is diverse and varied because of this wonderful lack of rules. Unlike other spirits, we are told Rum has no “global rules”. And that there are efforts to have a global rule which will crush our diversity.
A recent canard is that a GI (a registered intellectual property) is a further threat to this diversity and a threat to “innovation”.
The irony of this situation is that a GI seeks to preserve and protect this diversity. It is the essential tool by which this is accomplished. And the dreaded fear of selling rum under one “unified” rule is EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS NOW AND IS PRECISELY WHAT A GI WILL SOLVE.
If Caribbean producers sell rum into the US, it is not the standards of identity (“the rules”) of Jamaica, Martinique or Barbados that apply. It is the rules of the United States TTB that apply. That is right, despite being from three very different and diverse rum producing countries, they will be sold in the US under the same ONE rule. This means that although AGAINST THE LAW OF JAMAICA to add anything to rum besides caramel a Jamaica Rum can be sold in the US with added flavors included sugar (and labeled as Jamaican Rum) because the generic rule for Rum sold in the US allows blenders to be added to any rum.
But the situation is very different for the spirits produced by developed countries. The United States TTB will enforce the rules of Scotland for a Scotch Whisky sold in the US. The United States TTB will enforce the rules of Cognac for a Cognac sold in in the US. The US will not protect a Jamaican Rum or a Barbadian Rum from adulteration in the US. The US does not control the use of the word ‘Agricole’ in the US market leading to all sorts of hideous products, not remotely consistent with the standards of ‘Agricole’ being legally labeled as Agricole
Now the US does not directly recognize GIs so creating a GI alone will not be enough to solve this issue in the US but the US illustrates the challenge of protecting our diversity very well and the GI will be the necessary first step.
The same situation applies in the EU save for the fact that the EU does recognize some GIs at this point (for example the word Agricole is protected) and it is hoped that they will recognize the GIs of Jamaican and Barbados in due course. At the moment, a Jamaica Rum and a Barbados Rum are sold in the EU under one and the same EU rule. If the EU recognizes our individual GIs, it means that a Barbados Rum sold in the EU will need to meet “Barbados Rules” and a Jamaica Rum will need to meet “Jamaica Rules”. That diversity everyone wants will be protected - that dreaded ‘global rule’ for rum, avoided.
Because the EU recognizes the GI for Scotch Whisky, the additional requirements to meet the standards of identity for Scotch Whisky over the EU generic standard for whisky are recognized and the label “Scotch Whisky” is protected throughout the EU. The GI for Jamaica Rum and the draft GI for Barbados pose additional requirements, over and above the generic EU definition of Rum (the “one” rule) to protect and preserve the identity of these rums. The GI is the tool by which we will protect our diversity. The GI is the tool by which we avoid having to produce under one “global rule”.
What of the claim that a GI stifles innovation?
Lets be clear what exactly is innovation. Marketing gimmicks that do not add value is not innovation. But a GI is not a legal restraint on a producer. All producers continue to operate under the existing laws. A GI is a piece of intellectual property protecting how a type of “trademark” can be used - it places no law whatsoever on production. It constrains no one from producing as they please. It constrains them from labelling as they please. A Jamaican musician can play any tune just do not expect it to be called reggae unless it sounds like reggae.
So what are these innovation stifling constraints in the Barbados and Jamaica GIs:
Barbadian trained operators
fermented and distilled in Barbados/Jamaica
Saccharomyces types only for yeast
local water source only
free of additives except caramel which must only be used for color (Barbados draft GI has a quantitative albeit generous limit on caramel) - the same restriction in Scotch
minimum ester levels for Jamaica rum (by marque)
aged in oak (“small” is the Jamaica requirement, 700 liters maximum for Barbados)
aged entirely in Jamaica (a min of two years in Barbados).
Jamaica rum must pass an organoleptic test
I will address the wisdom of “restricting to oak” in another post, save to say that is hardly onerous and Scotch Whisky has the same “restriction”. There is a plethora of excellent oak casks available for "innovation". One obvious point is that it keeps a point of difference between rum and cachaca and preserves an important distinction in our social and economic history.
Aging is Europe is a product of the colonial way of doing business where only limited value was earned in the colonies and product whether it be sugar, rum or bauxite was to shipped at the lowest commodity value. The advent had nothing whatsoever to do with product quality and it is absurd as ageing Scotch Whisky in southern Spain. It simply steals value from the local producers leaving rich European brands and decrepit local operations. The Barbados GI arguably does not go far enough. Bravo to Jamaica - this “restraint” is worth millions in forex earnings.
Conforming Rums must use the words “certified Geographical Indication” on all documents including labels. Non conforming rums can be made but they will not be able to simply state “Jamaican Rum” or “Barbados Rum” and most importantly - “the use of any indication or sign which may cause a buyer to believe that a rum has the right to use the protected Geographical Indication “Jamaica Rum”, although it does not satisfy all the conditions defined in the present decree will be prosecuted”.
You cannot sell your product under another’s brand because of trademark law and you cannot sell your product under another’s protected origin because of intellectual property law. You add something to Jamaica Rum - it is no longer Jamaican Rum - that is the law of the land of Jamaica. A recognized Jamaican GI means you cannot avoid Jamaican law by selling in Europe.
So you can continue to flavor Jamaica Rum you just cannot label it in a way that may cause confusion to the buyer that they have purchased certified Jamaica Rum. Diversity created by Jamaicans protected.
Europeans created the concept of protected origins and it is used extensively by developed countries to develop and protect the intrinsic value of their products. Our time is now.
We and fellow Barbadian owned producer St Nicholas Abbey are on the record as supporting the Barbados GI as drafted.