Thursday, February 28, 2019

Wealth Solutions Releases 20 Year Old Rum from Closed Caroni Distillery in Trinidad and Tobago

     This is a great event for the people of Trinidad and Tabago in addition to the rum lovers of the world.  The once state operated Caroni Distillery will live on in more than legend with the release of these vintage rums.

     Feel the rhythm of Caribbean carnival with glass of Caroni rum in your hand!  The Caroni Distillery was located on Trinidad and its home country is known, among the others, from music and carnival.

    With these three editions they plan to pay tribute to three music genres which were created or developed on this beautiful and exotic island. The label of each edition presents different character referring to particular type of music, carnival dancer, parang singer, and man playing on traditional steelpan. In addition, the colors of the labels and boxes refer to the colors of flag of the Trinidad and Tobago, because Caroni was a state distillery.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Warehouses at the Brugal Rum Distillery Burned and the Fire Injured Two Employees

     A fire that broke out at the Brugal rum distillery in the Dominican Republic last week has injured two employees.  The fire broke out on the morning of Thursday 14 February in one of the Puerto Plata site’s warehouses.  The Brugal warehouse is located on the Puerto Plata-Imbert highway.
     During attempts to put out the fire, 12 firefighters and two Brugal employees were “affected in different circumstances” and received medical attention instantly. Some firefighters were affected by smoke inhalation.  Employee Francis José González suffered a broken ankle after being hit by a forklift and will undergo surgery.      “Thanks to the rapid action of the firemen and rescue workers, their professionalism and the operation followed to prevent the flames from expanding, the fire was controlled, impacting only one of our warehouses.”

     The fire at the warehouses of the rum distillery Brugal in Puerto Plata since 11 am Thursday, More than 40 fire trucks and two helicopters were used to douse the flames.  An extensive blaze is leveling the warehouse of the rum distiller Brugal & Compañía, located in northern Puerto Plata province.  The blaze was completely extinguished two days later on the morning of Saturday 16 February. The company said more than 50% of the debris has been removed.   Fire Department firefighters and Civil Defense rescuers are at the scene of the inferno to douse the flames and provide assistance.  There are no reports of fatalities but one person was injured thus far.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The San Pedro de la Roca Morro Castle

     A few years back I was fortunate enough to visit Santiago de Cuba for a week and The San Pedro de la Roca Morro Castle on the southeastern coast of Cuba.  The view from the walls over looking the sea were simply breath taking.

Originally designed by Battista Antonelli in the late 1600's.   Antonelli's design was adapted to the situation of the fortress on the steep sides of the promontory reaching into the bay. It was constructed on a series of terraces; there were four main levels and three large bulwarks to house the artillery. Supplies would be delivered by sea and then stored in the large warehouse, which was cut directly into the rock, or transported up to the top level which housed the citadel. Construction of the citadel took 62 years, starting in 1638 and finally being completed in 1700,

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Premiumization of Rum Comes With a Price

     Last week, I spent two days in Miami at a rum congress with some of the most influential rum producers in the world.  Two of the most prolific topics was the Geological Indication  and Transparency within the category.  With the move by the category to more premium and super-premium expressions, this has to to happen if the category is going to be taken seriously.
     Transparency has been a buzz word in the spirits world for quite some time, and as consumers become more inquisitive and knowledgeable, secretive operations are vulnerable to backlash.  Rum has so far avoided the public wrath inflicted on categories such as gin and whisky, but as its premiumization’s trajectory accelerates, distillers are under greater pressure to speak about their production methods openly and honestly.    Alexandre Gabriel, master blender of Plantation Rum, feels that any rules for rum production, “must first and foremost promote transparency, while not killing the diversity that makes rum so special”. He also believes, “The work of putting together a Geographical Indication must be a careful process and it must be done in a way to explore and research collectively the heritage of a particular country in rum making.  It is also something that needs to be keep in mind is that rum is a vibrant spirit and that has to continue and Geographical Indication should not stifle that.”
Richard Seale:  Foursquare Distillery
     Richard Seale, master distiller and blender at Foursquare Distillery, says transparency is “essential to creating a super­-premium category” and identifies two ways to achieve premiumization – through adding ‘perceived value’ or ‘intrinsic value’. ‘Perceived value’, he says, is created through “packaging, misleading solera age claims and the addition of sugar syrup”, which creates the “illusion of quality”. But ‘intrinsic value’ is based on “genuine artisanal distillation and genuine age”, and is an ethos largely associated with the whisky category.
“This is how we must build the premium category of rum,” he says. “It is more than just to premiumize – it is how we premiumize that matters and will determine our ultimate success. A consumer can and should buy on taste, which is subjective, but what the consumer has to pay should always be based on intrinsic value.”
     Richard Seale finds that the “terrible myth that rum has no rules, but rather, the problem is that our rules are not recognized”. He says the United States and European Union, both key rum markets, do not recognize the specific regulations from rum­-producing nations, which he calls a “genuine disgrace”. Seale also says the EU fails to properly enforce its own regulations for rum, which prohibits the use of neutral grain spirit and flavorings, among other things. “This lack of enforcement has helped make rum a dishonest category, and has prevented the category from having the confidence in its integrity that is necessary to develop the super­-premium class,” he says. Seale urges the European Union to recognize rum’s Geographical Indication Is in the same way it recognizes Scotch whisky, but he also says that the United States is a “vastly greater problem”.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Caribbean Rum Producers Move to Protect Intellectual Property

     Caribbean rum producers met in Barbados recently to discuss how best to protect the intellectual
property behind regional rums.  The attending members of the West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers Association (WIRSPA) heard from several experts, including Francis Fay, head of geographical indications in the European Union Commission and Bernard O’Connor, a well-respected international attorney on intellectual property and author on geographical indications.

     The half-day panel discussion examined the establishment of geographical indications (GIs) for rums from individual countries. Several in the grouping — Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Guyana – are close to or have already established national GIs for their products. Participants also discussed ways to protect and advance the reputation of the authentic Caribbean rums produced by WIRSPA members.

Speaking at a reception and tasting of member brands, Komal Samaroo, chairman of the grouping and head of the Demerara Distillers conglomerate, observed that while the industry was one of the oldest in the region, its future potential was considerable. Already the largest agro-based export earner after minerals for CARICOM/CARIFORUM states, it is also its premier export product with an international reputation for quality.

     Protecting this heritage and developing the opportunity, said Samaroo, called for careful management
of the intellectual property intrinsic to the value of the product. The panel discussion and the view of the international experts were that a participatory approach based on broad consensus was a key factor in successfully realising the potential of the industry in the global market.   Also speaking at the event, minister for agriculture and food security for Barbados, Indar A. Weir, gave his government’s commitment to supporting the industry, to achieve its full potential in the international market.


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Fort Matthews Grenada

    The Ruins of Fort Matthews just above St Georges, is a real testimony to the suffering that the people of Grenada went through in the American Invasion of 25 thru the 29 of October, 1983.  What was thought to be the fort was in fact an asylum, the fort was further to the south.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Which Alcohol is Consumed First Has No Effect on Hangovers

     Research published by two leading British and German universities has debunked the myth “beer before wine and you’ll feel fine; wine before beer and you’ll feel queer”.  A study has found that the order in which alcoholic drinks are consumed has no effect on hangovers.  The research, carried out by the University of Cambridge and Witten/Herdecke University in Germany, aimed to discover how the order in which alcoholic drinks are consumed can affect the next morning’s hangover.
     To test this, 90 volunteers aged between 19- and 40-years-old were recruited and split into three groups. The first group consumed two and a half pints of beer followed by four large glasses of wine. The second group consumed the same amount of alcohol, but in reverse order. Subjects in the third control group consumed either only beer or only wine.
     A week later, participants in the first and second study groups were switched to the opposite drinking order. Control group subjects who drank only beer the first time around received only wine on the second study day, and vice versa.  After each day of drinking, participants were asked about their hangover and gave a score for how they felt from 0-56, based on factors including thirst, fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea, stomach ache, increased heart rate and loss of appetite.

     Dr Kai Hensel, a senior clinical fellow at the University of Cambridge and senior author of the study, said: “Unpleasant as hangovers are, we should remember that they do have one important benefit, at least: they are a protective warning sign that will certainly have aided humans over the ages to change their future behavior. In other words, they can help us learn from our mistakes.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Diageo ‘Very Focused’ on Putting Some Life Back in the Captain Morgan Brand

     Diageo is “very focused on getting the energy back into Captain Morgan” after the rum brand’s half-year sales declined.   In the group’s results, net sales of Captain Morgan fell by 4% making it the only one of Diageo’s ‘global giants’ to decline during the final six months of 2018.   More broadly, rum was Diageo’s only spirits category to decline in the period, falling by 3%. This was largely attributed to Captain Morgan’s performance in the US, which decreased 9% and “lost share in a declining category”.
     Speaking at a Diageo roundtable last week, CEO Ivan Menezes said “rum has been tough for us”.  He said: “The spirits sector is so dynamic in the US.  “Even vodka brands that are on trend are doing really well. Rum is a more muted category. It’s been tougher. Captain Morgan, as a result, is not performing well.  “We’re very focused on getting the energy back into Captain Morgan so there’s a lot of work going on that.
     This is not a surprise to me, Rum is only growing in the areas of premium and ultra-premium expressions.  The consumers in the United States are looking for a better spirit, not something they can bury in a mixer and barely be able to tastes it.  Finding the sales of lower end spirits are slipping is not a surprise to me.  Many of the makes of the mass “mixing expressions” are working to bring premium ones to the market in order to produce sales gains. 
     Consumers of “brown spirits” are not the ones that generally mix it with colas or other sugared mixes that bury the flavor of the spirit.  Rum drinkers are following in the path of quality that they are willing to pay extra for that can stand alone with a little water or ice if anything at all.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

An Unusual Sight, A Mangrove Blossom

     During a recent visit to Grand Cayman, I visited the Queen Elizabeth Botanical Garden.  It was an absolutely wonderful experience that allowed me to see some very unusual plants, birds and reptiles.  The one thing that really stood out in my mind ws this mangrove blossom.  Living in Key West, I'm surrounded by mangroves, but this is the first time that I ever saw one in bloom.  They are not a spectacular blossom, but it was great to actually see one blooming.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Zaya Gran Reserva Rum Issues a New Formula and Age Statement

     Trinidad and Tobago-made rum Zaya Gran Reserva has been relaunched with a new age statement of “aged up to 16 years”.  The new expression is said to have notes of vanilla, caramel, cocoa, apple, banana and cherry, leading to a “heavy, velvety smooth finish”.  Zaya Gran Reserva Rum is bottled at 40% abv or 80 proof and has a new packaging design to indicates the new formula.  The bottle has a new slimmer, sleeker design including a longer neck to allow, that adds an ease of pouring along with a cork closure.
     The label incorporates the brand’s home, Trinidad and Tobago, which is also known as the ‘land of the hummingbird’.  The design features this phrase and a gold hummingbird on a medallion, which sits between the neck of the bottle and the label.  The teal accents on the bottle and label are an adornment that gives a hint to the tropical waters on which the island lies.
      Zaya Gran Reserva is available from select retailers across the US and online, including Shop Wine Direct, for an suggested retail price of $29.99 for the 750ml bottle. It is being imported by Infinium Spirits.
     I find it interesting that it was able to get the label for the United States, where regulations require the age statement on the bottle be that of the youngest alcoholic component in the blend.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

I Thought That I Had See Everything in a Bar

     I was at the “Hog’s Breath Saloon” on Duval Street on Sunday enjoying some great music when the people from IV’s in the Keys came in and set up 4 IV’s and hooked 4 clients up to them.  I’d thought that I’d seen everything that I could see in a bar, but this was a new one for me.  I had to ask what it was all about, and I was told that it was a method of hangover prevention and / or cure. 

    “No need to suffer the residual effects of excessive alcohol consumption.  Don’t let a night of overindulgence ruin the rest of your weekend or vacation!  We have the cure!   Before you get carried away with the party, here is an idea that could possibly help with your recovery the day after.  The IV Restores Hydration, Decreases Inflammation, Delivers An Energy Boost, Relieves Stomach Pain, Relieves Nausea & Vomiting and Boosts Immune System”, according to IV’s in the Keys website.

     Not being one to judge, I guess that this has the possibility of working.  I’ve seen many racers get hooked up to IV’s after a long race to assist with dehydration and exhaust inhalation, so why not for a hangover.  It is a wild and crazy world out there, and this may be just what we need in our local saloons, have a cold one and get hooked up to and IV and then carry on like a crazy person for the rest of the night.  Why Not?

Sunday, February 3, 2019

A Day at the Marquesas Keys

     Just to the west of Key West lie the Marquesas Keys, a beautiful low-lying mass of water and land that is filled with so many interesting sights.  You will find everything there from Cuban refugee chugs to pure white sand beaches and statuesque tree carcasses that stand at the edge of the beach like monuments to the natural almost untouched life that surrounds these keys.