Captain Morgan and his plunder

Thu Jun 18, 2009 12:25p

SAN JUAN, June 18 (Reuters) – A $250 million bond issue the U.S. Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority plans to bring to the municipal market next week is the latest sally in a Caribbean rum war with Puerto Rico over federal tax rebates.

The issue will finance a $165 million rum plant in St. Croix and related expenses for drinks giant Diageo PLC (DGE.L), which will shift production of its Captain Morgan Rum from Puerto Rico to the USVI after a contract with Puerto Rican rum producer Destileria Serralles runs out in 2012.

Underwritten by JPMorgan and Citi, the deal includes $80 million to $100 million annually in benefits for the firm, or about half the USVI’s anticipated annual take from a federal rebates program the two U.S. territories share.

Coming when Puerto Rico is battling recession and big government budget gaps, Diageo’s move will cost the U.S. commonwealth some $130 million annually in rum rebates. Last year, Puerto Rico received $370 million and the U.S. Virgin Islands $80 million under the program.

In response, Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner, or nonvoting representative to Congress, proposed legislation seeking to establish a special rule blocking Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands from using rum rebates to provide “unreasonable” subsidies to rum producers.

The bill defines an “unreasonable” subsidy of more than 10 percent of the rum rebate funds a jurisdiction receives.

“The program was not designed to allow a territory to portion out excessive subsidies to rum manufacturers,” Pierluisi, a Democrat, said in an interview.


Critics of Pierluisi’s bill said sparking a battle over the rum funds may only jeopardize the whole program.

“There is no issue with the rum program up here, and to raise it at a time, when the country is in deficit and people are looking for money everywhere, just puts the whole program at risk,” Virgin Islands Delegate Donna Christensen, a Democrat, said in an interview.

VI Governor John P. deJongh Jr called Pierluisi’s bill an “ill-conceived” attempt to undermine the agreement with Diageo and said Pierluisi’s efforts “smack of politics.”

DeJongh also said in a written statement that Puerto Rico was more interested in stopping Captain Morgan’s move to St. Croix than in keeping its production in Puerto Rico.

“Puerto Rico would be financially better off if Diageo built the home of Captain Morgan in Guatemala, or Honduras, or Trinidad. In fact, because of the way the federal excise taxes are shared, Puerto Rico would be largely indifferent to Captain Morgan continuing to be produced in Puerto Rico, or if it were to go anywhere else in the Caribbean, anywhere, that is, except for the Virgin Islands,” the governor said.

Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands also split the excise tax on rum produced in Caribbean Basin countries, which is determined by their share of the U.S. market. Puerto Rico now has an 86 percent share to a 14 percent share for the Virgin Islands. But after the move, it will change to roughly 60 percent for Puerto Rico and 40 percent for the Virgin Islands.

The U.S. House Ways & Means Committee is not expected to act on the bill. (Additional reporting by Michael Connor in Miami; Editing by Jan Paschal)

© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved


Don Q – Puerto Rican Rum

by Annie Scott on Jun 18th 2009 at 1:00PM

Don Q Grand AnejoDon Q (short for Don Quixote) is a Puerto Rican rum with a rich history. What’s more, not only is Don Q Puerto Rico’s most popular rum, but it’s conveniently located just across the water from the Bacardi factory — a perfect alternative to what we understand is a boring four-hour excursion — and best of all, it’s free.

Located at Pier (Muelle) 2 in Old San Juan, Casa Don Q is a great place to visit on a trip to Puerto Rico. The walls showcase the history of Distileria Serralles, Inc., and the shop offers Don Q-emblazoned items from swim trunks to watches in display cases which change colors from green to blue.

The best part, as we said, is the free samples (please tip your bartender). You try the widely available Don Q Cristal and Gold (which may well be on the shelf at your local liquor store), or you can opt for the awesome flavored rums made with Puerto Rican coconuts, limes, and passion fruit — they’ll make you a mixed drink if you like. The true connoisseur, though, goes for The Grand Anejo Don Q (shown), which is aged twelve years and has notes of rich wood, caramel, and cinnamon. You’ll totally want to pick up a $45 bottle while you’re there — make sure you’re flying JetBlue, because you’re gonna have to check your bag (they still don’t charge for one bag).

For more information on visiting the small and simple Casa Don Q, click here — and click through the gallery for a virtual visit.

Gallery: Casa Don Q – The Bacardi Tour Alternative

  • The Don Q Storefront
  • The po-po relax in the doorway
  • Statues
  • They've got some mighty fine Don Quixote artwork
  • How it's made

In Search of the Still

Sunday, June 14, 2009


PROVIDENCE —  Thomas Richardson II was a wealthy, 18th-century Newport merchant and captain, a slave trader and member of the city’s privileged elite who, researchers say, manufactured rum on his waterfront property and ventured to the Caribbean and Africa.

That much is already known. But his backyard may hold many more clues to his life and that of other merchants of the time.

A team of excavators who have already spent two summers at the Richardson property, digging up everything from Chinese porcelain to animal bones, will return this summer to complete their work at the site.

The researchers are hoping to uncover a large distillery they believe was used by Richardson’s slaves to make rum. The alcohol was produced in copious quantities in colonial Newport, helping make the city a commercial hub, and it was a key element of the so-called triangular trade that carried slaves, rum, molasses and other goods and supplies between Africa, the Caribbean and New England.

“Nothing was producing the income that rum was,” said Pieter Roos, executive director of the Newport Restoration Foundation, which owns the property and is involved in the excavation project.

“Far more rum got shipped out of here than anything else, and it was the basis for a lot of the wealth of Rhode Island,” he added.

The work is being done as a joint partnership between Salve Regina University in Newport, the Newport Restoration Foundation, and the Andrew Fiske Memorial Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.

Researchers accidentally discovered the Richardson property in 2007, when they were at the same site excavating artifacts they had traced to the 19th century.

Three-and-a-half feet into their dig, the team hit on a level of “organic, greasy” soil that they recognized as indicative of accumulated trash deposits from the 1800s.

“We sort of were under the assumption that there had been nothing there, and the actual discovery in the field forced us to take another look at the records,” said James Garman, a lead archaeologist on the project and chairman of the cultural and historic preservation department at Salve Regina.

Researchers pushed the chain of title further back, finding records of a Thomas Richardson who lived at the site from 1761 until his death in 1782. His home appears to have disappeared around 1812, Garman said.

Artifacts already uncovered a hint at Richardson’s wealth. Pottery and serving vessels such as punch bowls and platters used for entertaining have been found, along with Chinese porcelain, elaborate stemware and French plates.

The discovery sheds light on how affluent Colonial merchants lived.

“We’ll find out what kind of clothes he was wearing, what his family was eating, how big his business was,” Roos said.

Besides the remains of pigs, cows, sheep and fowl, excavators have found bones of sea turtles — a common soup ingredient at dinner parties for the wealthy, said Michelle Styger, a UMass Boston graduate student who has tried to reconstruct the family diet.

“It was kind of an event reserved for only those of the highest status,” Styger said.

Garman is also trying to determine what became of Richardson’s wealth. An inventory taken after his death revealed him as largely destitute, Garman said, and records show that he sought restitution from the British for financial losses incurred during the Revolutionary War.

The distillery was advertised for sale after his death.

This summer, researchers will try to uncover the distillery and the shed that housed it — believed to measure about 50 feet long by 30 feet wide. Ground-penetrating radar has shown faint traces of structural walls that Garman interprets as remnants of Richardson’s warehouse. The diggers have also located a line of very large posts — suggesting a wall or side of the shed.

The find would be significant; Garman said he’s aware of only one other rum distillery that’s been excavated in Rhode Island, although a couple dozen are known to have existed in Newport in the mid-18th century. The distillery’s size could reflect the large scale of the rum manufacturing industry.

“The scale on which they’re producing rum, which is fueling everyday commerce and the African trade, is going to be pretty startling, I think,” Garman said.

Roos said he expected the project would form the basis for student theses. The artifacts could be used in museum exhibits, but the distillery itself is not portable.

“I don’t think there’s been any archaeological excavation of any merchant site up to this point at all,” Roos said. “This is going to add to our knowledge, which is a little sketchy in some ways.”

The Joy of Appleton’s

Drinks and Dreams Down to a Science:
Rum Cocktails with Master Blender Joy Spence

SMW Women’s Vacation & Travel Resources
By Fabiana Santana, posted June 12, 2009 5:00 am

joy_spenceDrinking on the job is not a perk for Joy Spence, Master Blender for Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum it is her job.

At thirteen years old, most girls are in love with TV stars and pop idols. Joy Spence fell in love with chemistry. She made up her mind to become a scientist and went on to earn a Master of Science degree in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Loughborough in London, England. Joy graduated with top honors – including scoring the highest exam grades ever achieved by a student at the University (that record still stands today) – but you might be surprised to find out what she’s cooking up in her lab these days.

Joy is the first female Master Blender in the spirits industry, and one of only three females who hold the position in the world. She is not only responsible for overseeing the estate’s aging process for its world class rum, but also for blending compatible marquees of rum – that’s where the science comes in – which ultimately create the fine flavors and taste associated with high end rum. She works with small batch copper pots and a proprietary yeast strain propagated from the sugar cane grown right on the estate.

“As the Master Blender my responsibilities include developing/creating new exceptional blends of rum for the Company, maintaining the consistency and quality of our existing blends of rums, reviewing and monitoring our stocks of rums as they age to ensure the quality of the rums, determining the quantities of rum that need to be set down for aging, monitoring the quality of all of the rums that the Company bottles each day and promoting our Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum range around the world.”

That makes for a pretty busy day. But Joy doesn’t seem to mind. “I have the greatest job in the world,” she says.

In 1981, Joy joined Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum as Chief Chemist, where she had the opportunity to work closely with Appleton Estate’s then Master Blender, Owen Tulloch. Working with Owen sparked a passion within Joy for the art of creating rum, and under his expert guidance, Joy extended her knowledge of both the science behind the rum-making process as well as its many artistic qualities. She apprenticed for him for almost twenty years before becoming Master Blender.

“It was not so much learning about patience but rather learning the art of rum blending. I had the greatest teacher in our previous Master Blender Owen Tulloch and I spent those twenty years learning everything that I could about the art of making rum.” And it certainly paid off, not just for Joy but for Appleton as well. Joy is the creator of Appleton Estate Reserve and Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year-Old blends of rum which just now being introduced into bars and restaurants. Think of it as a dress hitting the stores after a designer spent years sewing it.

“I bring a passion for discovery to those who taste each rum blend I create,” says Joy. She wants people to appreciate rum and learn to embrace it the way wine has been embraced by the masses. “Lift the glass, look at the rum’s color, smell the aroma,” Joy instructs diners at a rum celebration dinner.

When she talks about rum, the enthusiasm that shines off of Joy is contagious. As a woman, you can’t help but be proud of her. “Women must pursue their dreams and not let anything get in their way. I hope that my work will serve as an inspiration to young ladies who are now making decisions about their career and that they know that they can achieve anything that they set out to do.”

Here are Joy’s recipes for the summer’s perfect rum based cocktails.

Royal Aperitif

1oz Appleton Estate Reserve

.5oz Honey syrup

.5oz Fresh squeezed Lemon juice


Garnish: Lemon twist

Glass: Flute

Build all ingredients in a pint glass except the champagne shake and fold champagne in then strain into a flute and garnish.

Jamaican Breeze

1.5oz Appleton Estate Reserve

1 dial Fresh Ginger muddled

2oz Pineapple juice

.5oz simple syrup (1-1)

Dash of Angostura bitters

Garnish: lime wheel

Glass: Rocks

Muddle ginger in the pint glass add the rest of the ingredients, add ice shake and strain over fresh ice and garnish with a lime wheel.

Old Jamaican

1.5oz Appleton Estate Reserve

1oz fresh squeezed limejuice

.75oz pure cane simple syrup

Dash of Angostura Bitters


Garnish: Mint sprig

Glass: Highball

Add limejuice and mint, slightly muddle, and add the rest of the ingredients accept the champagne shake and strain over fresh ice.

The Jamaican Cobbler

1.5 oz Appleton Estate Reserve

1 oz Dry Sack Medium Sherry

.5 oz G.E. Massenez Crème de Peche

2 ruby red grapefruit pieces with skin

1 Sugar Cube

2 ruby red grapefruit pieces with skin

White wine glass

Muddle fruit and build in the mixing glass shake and strain over crushed ice into a wine glass and garnish with fresh grapefruit pieces.

Tortuga Rum Queen takes Cake

Accolades for Monique Hamaty–Simmonds

Tuesday 9th June, 2009   Posted: 14:49 CIT   (19:49 GMT)

Monique Hamaty–Simmonds, CEO and president of Tortuga Imports was honored by the Commonwealth Institute and Florida International University at its 4th Annual Women–Led Businesses in Florida luncheon and award ceremony held on 4 June at Jungle Island. She was recognized as one of the top 50 women business leaders in the state of Florida.

The Commonwealth Institute is a non–profit organization founded in 1997 to help women entrepreneurs, CEOs and senior corporate executives build successful businesses.

A 1996 FIU graduate in Business Administration, Ms Hamaty–Simmonds is a second generation entrepreneur.  Her father, Robert Hamaty and his wife Carlene started the Tortuga Rum Company in Grand Cayman, B.W.I. in 1984. Three years later they introduced the Tortuga Rum Cake, baked from a generations old family recipe.

As a teenager and throughout college, Ms Hamaty–Simmonds learned the business working with her father in his office during holiday breaks and school vacations. In 1997, she and her husband, Marcus Simmonds, opened Tortuga Imports, also known as the Tortuga Rum Cake Company, in Miami to bring Tortuga’s “taste of the Islands” to the American market.

At only 37 years old, she has more than a decade of experience in running a thriving import business and international gourmet food company. In 2002, she and Marcus, the chief financial officer for Tortuga Imports were recognized by Gourmet News with the prestigious, biennial 20 Under 40 Award., the nations’ leading multicultural internet site, has named the Tortuga Rum Cake Company to its list of the Top Small Businesses in the United States and the company has been recognized by Inc. magazine as one of the Top 5000 fastest–growing private US companies for two consecutive years.

The Simmonds couple also have management positions with the Tortuga Rum Company in Grand Cayman, where they live with their three children, Jada, Nadia and Branden, ages 7, 5 and 2.

Today, Tortuga Caribbean Rum Cakes are the # 1 export of the Cayman Islands, shipped to 70 countries and sold in gift and specialty food departments and gourmet stores throughout North America and the Caribbean. Also sold on over 100 cruise ships, Tortuga Rum Cakes has been named “Best Cruise Souvenir” by Porthole Cruise magazine for five consecutive years.

Tortuga A Taste of Florida Rum Cakes and Rum Fudge are found in gift and airport shops throughout the state of Florida. The complete line of Tortuga Rum Cakes and Gourmet Products is available via mail order and online at

Seven Tiki and Spicey Polynesians

Seven Tiki introduces new spiced rum to U.S.

June 10, 12:50 PM · A
Bill Dowd

The distillers of Seven Tiki have rolled out a new spiced rum.

The Fijian product is made from Polynesian sugar cane, baked Indonesian nutmeg, Madagascar vanilla and water drawn from beneath Fiji’s volcanic highlands.

It will be interesting to see what sort of impact it has on the consumer market, where Captain Morgan has what looks like a stranglehold on the spiced rum niche. When I helped judge the 4th annual Polished Palate International Rum Competition earlier this year, no entry was deemed worthy of a gold medal in that category.

The new Seven Tiki spiced rum is 35% alcohol by volume (70 proof, compared to the company’s regular 80-proof rum). Initially, it is being sold in California and Florida only at a suggested retail price of $19.99 for the 750ml bottle.

Rum iconic for Queensland

Rum, opera singer lead Wide Bay Burnett’s icons

By Katherine Spackman

An opera singer and rum are amongst some of the Wide Bay Burnett region’s attractions that have been named Queensland’s top icons.

More than 30,000 people voted for Queensland’s top 150 icons to celebrate the state’s 150th birthday.

The list places icons in 10 major categories.

Fraser Island came in at number two in the natural icon section.

Bundaberg’s opera singer Gladys Moncrieff was recognised as an influential artist.

The Bundaberg Rum Distillery was named as a top location, while the Bundy rum and bear were recognised as typically Queensland.

Gympie’s Country Music Muster got the gong as an iconic event and festival.

The macadamia nut and cane fields were named typically Queensland and the dingo fence was recognised as an invention that Queenslanders have pioneered.

Back from the dead, Rum the reviving spirit!

Well there I was in early April, in Uzbekistan, where bandwidth means how many Bactrian camels can squeeze through a mountain pass, and Rob Burr managed to get an email through saying Rumpundit was down.
I was away until May and when I came back, the server hosting company took two weeks to agree that it was indeed down. They had changed servers and had not backed up. And for a month they have ignored all my requests for suggestions on what they intend to do to repair their negligence.
I am shopping for lawyers if anyone has any suggestions.

On a happier note, I am off to Jamaica this weekend where I will be visiting Appleton Estate. Much more follows.