Rum on the Money

Here is a dispassionate and accurate summary of the great Cap’n Morgan hijack. Rumpundit has consistently suggested other Caribbean islands should get dibs on this cash, and in these times of stress, it’s worth pointing out that $13-50 a gallon excise duty on spirits is minimal compared with other countries’ duties – almost as much a joke as Federal cigarette taxes. Budget balancers are amazingly quiet about them… which is usually equivalent to a big sign saying “Beware, lobbies at work!”

The politics of rum
Sir Henry’s legacy

Dec 30th 2009 | PONCE, PUERTO RICO
From The Economist print edition
A dispute over Caribbean distillation has tempers flaring in Washington, DC

SHREWD dealmaking or modern Caribbean piracy? That is the question surrounding a contract between Diageo, the world’s largest drinks company, and the government of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI). The deal, signed in June 2008, provides Diageo with nearly $3 billion in tax breaks over the next 30 years—including marketing subsidies, a 90% reduction in corporate-income taxes, exemption from property taxes and a new distillery and warehouses to be paid for by government bonds, all to produce Captain Morgan, a swiftly growing brand of spiced rum currently made by the Serralles distillery in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

The money for this exceptionally generous deal comes from excise-tax rebates. The federal government in Washington, DC, returns $13.25 of every $13.50 it collects per proof-gallon of rum to Puerto Rico and the USVI. Puerto Rico uses most of those funds for infrastructure, land conservation and to boost its general fund; it returns no more than 10% of its rebate to its rum industry. The USVI is proposing to return nearly half of its rebate to Diageo alone. Puerto Rico is now crying foul, pitting two American insular possessions against each other.

Donna Christensen and Pedro Pierluisi, the (non-voting) congressional representatives from the USVI and Puerto Rico respectively, introduced warring bills on Capitol Hill last year. Ms Christensen’s bill would make permanent the territories’ remittance from the federal rum tax—as things stand, Congress must vote every two years to keep it at $13.25 a gallon, otherwise it falls to $10.50. Mr Pierluisi’s bill would cap the proportion of funds that can be returned to rum producers at 10%.

Members of the congressional black caucus are backing the USVI and representatives of Puerto Rican descent have taken Puerto Rico’s side. In December Diageo engaged a prominent firm of lobbyists and John deJongh, the governor of the USVI, made the rounds in Washington, DC, to explain his position.

Mr deJongh says Puerto Rico’s bill would “set a dangerous precedent for federal involvement in matters between local and state governments and companies”. He and Diageo also point out that the company was considering moving production out of the United States altogether; this keeps it in the country, though at the cost of many jobs at Serralles in Puerto Rico, 85% of whose rum is used for Captain Morgan. But Puerto Rico has another worry: if the rebates are simply seen as corporate subsidies, they could now prove a tempting target for a cash-strapped federal government.

Ord River Rum rows upstream.

Big boys give liquor man a rum deal in the cities

* Tony Barrass
* From: The Australian
* December 29, 2009 12:00AM

RAYMOND Bernard Dessert III, better known around the east Kimberley town of Kununurra as Spike Dessert, doesn’t want to sound paranoid, but he’s certain there are forces out to get him.

The American-born farmer and distiller with the booming voice gets cranky about “the big boys” he claims are using their influence to stop him selling his Ord River Rum — some of it up to 64 per cent alcohol — in the big southern markets such as Sydney and Melbourne.

Spike, 65, a proud member of the Australian Distillers Association, wants to expand his well-known Kimberley hoochery and build it into a lucrative business before he’s “otherwise disposed”.

“The big distillers seem to have carved up their patches, who sells what and where, which means us little fellas can’t push our way into the bigger markets,” he said.

“I know that pubs and bottle shops in the big markets have been threatened with losing their special discounts if they allow any small player like me to sell at their outlets. They tell me they want to sell it, but it would be suicide for them if they did.

Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar.

“They can rest easy. I’m hardly going to knock off the big boys. But I just think the whole scenario is anti-competitive. If I’ve got a good rum, I should be able to sell it through an outlet.”

Regardless of this, he says he’s going to lift production over the next few years. He proudly shows off his latest acquisition: a freshly painted, bright red sugar mill just arrived from Colombia.

“It can grind one tonne of sugar cane an hour,” he said. “That means that I can grow the cane out the back, process and distill and do the whole lot from start to finish.

“But I think it’s outrageous that I’m basically limited to cellar door sales here and some pubs up here because of these backroom deals.”

Spike is used to fighting convention. He arrived in Kununurra from southern California’s Imperial Valley in 1972 after Democrat presidential hopeful George McGovern threatened to ban corporate farming and take control of irrigation.

“That was enough for us,” he said. “You’ve got to remember this is when Mao was waving his Little Red Book around in his hand; McGovern had his in his back pocket. We were in the seed business so we went looking for greener pastures. We wanted a place that was frost-free, had plenty of water and a stable government.

“That just about ruled out everywhere except Australia.”

Since then he’s grown everything from asparagus to corn to melons in the rich alluvial soils of the Ord River.

Like everyone else in the Top End, he’s excited about the prospect of stage two of the irrigation scheme going ahead.

“You name it, I’ve grown it up here,” he said. “But the market’s limited and the freight costs here are very prohibitive.”

Spike, who names his dogs after US presidents (“I had a shifty looking thing a few years back so I called him Richard Nixon”) plans to launch a special anniversary rum next year to coincide with a decade in the business.

Prepare to repel Lobbyists!

The USVI deal to build Cap’n Morgan a new haven is meeting increasing heat, and has moved on from the silliness of tying to Obama bashing and stimulus packages. I still think Caricom should be banging on the doors in Washington and at the WTO demanding rebate on US excise duties..but I have to admit to some prejudice. As a rule of thumb, if Lott and Breaux support something – it’s worth opposing!

Breaux and Lott now working for The Captain

Source: Washington Examiner

By: Timothy P. Carney

12/21/09 12:37 PM EST

Former senators Trent Lott, R-Miss., and John Breaux, D-La., have entered the Caribbean Rum Rumble that pits the U.S. Virgin Islands against Puerto Rico. The basic story, as I wrote in a recent column, is this:

USVI is offering generous corporate welfare subsidies to liquor company Diageo if Diageo builds a Captain Morgan distillery in the USVI. Currently, Captain Morgan is made in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is now lobbying for a federal limit on the corporate welfare the protectorates can offer — a sort of multilateral disarmament treaty.

From a lobbying registration filed last week, we learn that Diageo has hired the Breaux Lott Leadership Group to lobby against this bill.

This is what corporate welfare does: spurs more lobbyists. That’s why big government is good for K Street.



Source: Catch 21 Consulting

Dec 17th

Clock is Ticking for Decision on H.R. Bill 222 that says ‘No’ to Anti-Competitive Rum Production Subsidies. Legislation Proposes to Level the Playing Field Between Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands.

Roberto Serralles, Vice-President of Destilería Serrallés, Inc., challenges the anti-competitive nature of the exaggerated subsidies that the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI)

is offering to rum distillers that locate themselves in their territory.

“The key issue is that the USVI is abusing federal law in order to subsidize rum production in amounts greater than the cost of producing the rum itself,” states Serralles.

“Passing H.R. Bill 2122 is critical to preserving the vitality of rum distillers-such as ourselves-who are established outside of the USVI.

We will not be able to compete fairly in the marketplace due to the exaggerated size of the subsidies the USVI is offering.”

The dispute stems from a controversial deal the USVI signed with London-based Diageo, PLC (owners of the Captain Morgan rum brand), to lure them to set up a rum production operation in the USVI beginning in 2012. Since 1985, all the rum used in the Captain Morgan rum brand has been produced by Destilería Serrallés in Puerto Rico. But that would all change under the terms of the deal signed in June 2008. The USVI agreed to finance for Diageo a $165 million, state-of-the art plant; pay the $18 million in annual financing costs; and provide molasses, production, and marketing subsidies to Diageo of over $60 million annually during the 30 year deal. All of this will be funded by the USVI’s portion of the rum cover-over program which returns to Puerto Rico and the USVI the excise tax paid by consumers in the U.S. from the purchase of rum produced in the two jurisdictions.

Puerto Rico officials are extremely concerned that the USVI is proposing to give more than 50% of the cover-over funds as subsidies to USVI-based distillers because this threatens the viability of the rum industry in Puerto Rico and jeopardizes the future and integrity of the rum cover-over program. Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico’s Delegate to Congress recommends emulating Puerto Rico law, which limits to 10% the amount of subsidy from the cover-over program that can be returned to the local rum industry.

This assures the majority of the funds are used for financing local infrastructure projects; environmental conservation programs; health services; and education programs, which are the intended beneficiaries of the program. Pierluisi has introduced H.R. Bill 2122, which would similarly cap the amount of funds from the cover-over program that can be provided as subsidies to the rum industry to 10%. According to Pierluisi, the dispute is not about any particular producer, but instead is about the rum cover-over

program, as a whole. “What’s happening here is that the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands is creating an anti-competitive situation by giving extraordinary and unreasonable subsidies to producers located in the USVI. The rum market should work just like any other market in the U.S., which is based on fair competition, among the players. Congress needs to decide on rules that regulate how the rum cover-over funds are used by both Puerto Rico and the USVI. Otherwise no rum producer will be able

to fairly compete in the rum marketplace” Pierluisi said.

“Recent press coverage regarding the rum cover-over dispute is missing the point,” Serralles states.

“Those trying to justify these questionable rum subsidies argue that all states provide subsidies to attract business.” Serralles agrees but adds, “we are certain that not one state provides subsidies larger than the cost of production. Imagine if a given state trying to lure new businesses decides to give an international car manufacturer a subsidy-using federal funds-larger than the cost of producing a car, and in addition, provides funds to cover the financing of a new plant. Congress would be outraged. This is exactly what the USVI is doing in the rum industry and USVI officials expect everyone to believe it is an appropriate economic development program.” Serralles is not opposed to incentives to promote industrial development, but he states that “these incentives, funded by public dollars, need to be reasonable and shall not violate one of America’s most cherished values: fair competition.”

“We are prepared to compete and responsibly bring the best products to market for our customers,” said Serralles. “We’ve been making exceptional rum for six generations and we plan to do it for at least six more. But the fact of the matter is that unless some sense of responsibility and fairness is brought to the rum cover-over program, the future existence of our company, one of the USA’s oldest family owned and operated companies, and one responsible for over 500 direct jobs in Puerto Rico, will be put

at risk. All we ask is that fairness prevails and that we are allowed to compete in a level-playing field.”

The H.R. 2122 bill has seven bi-partisan co-sponsors: Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Jose Serrano (DNY), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), and Dan Burton (R-IN). Lawmakers requested time on the Ways and Means Committee schedule to consider the bill and brief members on the panel about it.

Novia Scotia Rum

A safe harbour for N.S. rum
Lunenburg distiller to make traditional and new libations
By CHRIS LAMBIE Business Editor
Fri. Dec 11 – 4:46 AM

A Lunenburg couple opening the South Shore’s first distillery this spring had not planned, at first, to make rum.

But in a town built on the trade of salt fish for what is arguably one of the West Indies” most intoxicating exports, the locals were persistent.

“So many people came by and looked at us and said, ‘You’re making rum, aren’t you?’ So we felt like traitors if we didn’t,” said Lynne MacKay, who, along with her partner Pierre Guevremont, owns Ironworks Distillery Inc.

“That tipped the balance in rum’s favour, for sure,” Mr. Guevremont said.

“We thought we better explore this one, otherwise people are going to think we’re crazy being in Lunenburg and not producing rum.”

Their idea had been to stick to raw ingredients indigenous to the area.

“Sugar cane’s a little tricky to grow in Nova Scotia, so we had to go with molasses,” said Ms. MacKay, noting theirs is coming from Crosby Molasses Co. in Saint John, N.B.

While they’ve now made rum, they aren’t sure yet what type it will be.

“Once it comes out of the barrel, we’ll know,” she said.

“It would be our preference not to add anything. A lot of rums have food colouring and caramel added to them. Not to say that’s bad or good. It’s just the way it is. But there are pure rums that are just the molasses fermented, and distilled, period. And, of course, to call it rum in Canada, you have to age it for a year in wood.”

The rum is now sitting in Kentucky bourbon barrels.

“It will probably be golden, I suspect, but it’s a bit of an adventure,” Ms. MacKay said.

By contrast, the apple vodka Ironworks is producing doesn’t need to meditate in the dark before drinking.

“Vodka hops out of the old still and says hello,” Ms. MacKay said.

“You can taste the apple. It sneaks up on you at the end. . . . There’s a richness and a texture and a complexity to it that is quite lovely.”

While she enjoys it neat, the apple vodka can be used for mixed drinks.

“I have a very good friend who just put it in 7Up the other day and said, ‘This tastes really good,’” Ms. MacKay said.

“I think that’s just a travesty.”

The couple is using Annapolis Valley produce to make apple vodka and fruit brandies, also known as eau de vie in France.

“And actually the apple vodka is turning out rather well, if I do say so myself,” Ms. MacKay said.

“The Macintosh have done very well by us, but the Golden Delicious are certainly looking good as well.”

They also hope to use local pears, strawberries, peaches and cranberries for high-end booze.

“I missed by a day and a half getting 1,000 pounds of arctic kiwi,” Ms. MacKay said.

The pair moved to Nova Scotia from Ontario about five years ago. Mr. Guevremont still owns a stock photography company in Toronto and Ms. MacKay, who is a Windsor native, left the film and television business, where she was a costume designer.

The couple, in their fifties, bought the old blacksmith’s shop at the corner of Montague and Kempt streets this past summer. Built in 1893, the post-and-beam structure has a rich history that lends its name to the distillery.

“It’s got an amazing floor in it that shows the history so tangibly,” Mr. Guevremont said.

“It’s worn and eroded in places and burnt in places from the cinders flying from the forges. It’s a work of art.”

Ironworks is aiming to produce about 5,000 litres of premium spirits a year.

“What attracts us to it is the fact that it is sustainable at a smaller size,” Mr. Guevremont said.

“There are no grand plans to take on Seagram’s.”

While the still the company’s using now looks like an overgrown chemistry project, that will soon change.

“The one that’s coming in February is exquisite,” Ms. MacKay said of the Mueller still from Germany.

“(It’s) beautiful and copper and looks like a Jules Verne apparatus with (tubes), portholes and things that bubble.”

The couple has sunk about $750,000 into the distillery, Mr. Guevremont said.

“This is something we enjoy doing and have a passion for,”” he said.

“Typically, for small artisan distilleries, it takes three or four years to achieve what is termed traditional profitability. But as far I’m concerned, it’s wildly profitable already because we are having a ball doing it.”

The couple took a distilling course from Cornell University before jumping into the business about 18 months ago.

They don’t intend to make booze that tastes the same year after year.

“There’s no fun in that,” Mr. Guevremont said.

Instead, they want to experiment with recipes and methods to produce alcohol that changes in taste every year, much like wine.

Their products will likely retail at about $35 or $40 for a 375-millilitre bottle.

“Given the scale of the operation, our cost structure is definitely much higher than the Smirnoff’s of this world,” said Mr. Guevremont, noting Ironworks hopes to sell through the Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. as well as straight from the distillery.

Their wood-fired still will be located in what used to be the blacksmith’s forge, but will soon be the company’s tasting area.

Ironworks plans to open its doors to the public in April.

“I’m thinking that a few people will like it,” Ms. MacKay said of the distillery’s product. “They seem to enjoy local things here.”


Slaves to Rum

Cruzan Rum’s owners deny slavery ties in USVI

Published on Friday, December 11, 2009 Email To Friend Print Version

ST CROIX, USVI — In recent weeks, the issue has been raised of disclosure by corporations in the US Virgin Islands that operated during the slavery era. Legislation which would “require existing and new corporations to research their history to determine if any predecessor corporation existed which used forced labor or was involved in the trade of human chattel” was introduced on June 29, 2005 by St Thomas Senator Shawn-Michael Malone but was held in the legislature’s Committee on Government Operations and Consumer Protection for further consideration.

In the continental US, legislation requiring corporations to research and disclose ties to slavery has been enacted in states as conservative as Iowa and Wisconsin, in cities as liberal as San Francisco and Los Angeles, and in states as far north as Illinois and Michigan. However, in the US Virgin Islands, Bill No. 26-0089, which proposes to amend title 13 of the Virgin Islands Code by adding a section for incorporators to disclose slavery ties has remained unaddressed for more than four years.

With respect to the historical institution of slavery in the US Virgin Islands, there are corporations doing business in the territory today that have fundamental ties to the slavery era. As such, many of these entities maintain ownership of historical treasure troves that reference the customs, origins, health, ancestry and the day to day life and struggles of a people who are the grandparents of today’s Virgin Islanders.

To comply with city and state laws, in recent years many corporations large and small, the length and breadth of the United States, have researched corporate records and slavery era findings have been published by Fortune 500 companies like JP Morgan Chase/Bank One, the Bank of America/FleetBoston, R.J Reynolds Tobacco, New York Life, and AIG. In other cases, smaller companies have answered the calls of communities and advocates to deliver such things as the birth and death records and the baptism and communion certificates of enslaved laborers. Insurance claims and bank documents of slave owners have also been detailed in reports these reports. The information has been used educationally and as tools to inform students, youth, and communities regarding the genealogical and ethnic origins of enslaved relatives. Slavery era findings have also been used to memorialize and dignify enslaved relatives and have provided key links for descendants of enslaved African laborers seeking to reestablish ties to ancestral lands, languages, cultures, traditions, and heritage.

It is widely accepted that the Virgin Islands rum industry was established with the use of African slave labour. Noting that Cruzan Rum is founded on a heritage of rum production that dates back to 1760 on Estate Diamond, the St Croix based African-Caribbean Reparations and Resettlement Alliance (ACRRA) last month contacted the owners of Cruzan Rum with an objective to educate Virgin Islanders on a most significant historical era and the impact made by rum production upon humanity in the territory. A letter from ACRRA to Bruce Carbonari, Chairman and CEO of Fortune Brands, Inc. and to Gary Nelthropp, President of Cruzan Viril Ltd., aimed to initiate dialogue on the matter. The letter also requested that historical ties to the institution of slavery and the trade of human beings by Cruzan’s corporate predecessors be disclosed.

However, early this month, ACRRA reportedly learned that the producers of Cruzan Rum maintain a position that does not view slavery as integral to the development of their corporations. In a December 4 letter written to ACRRA’s president Shelley Moorhead, Attorney Mark Roche explained that, although “Estate Diamond was the site of sugar and rum production as early as 1760, Cruzan, as a successor of the Diamond Rum Company, has only existed as a brand or corporate entity since 1934.” Roche, who is the Senior Vice-President, General Counsel and Secretary of Fortune Brands, asserted that “Cruzan never used slave labor in its production of rum.”

In response to Roche’s account of Cruzan’s noninvolvement in slavery, Moorhead stated that Fortune is mistaken. “I feel that Fortune has arrived at their position prematurely,” said ACRRA’s president. Moorhead thinks that “the owners of the world’s number one rum should have consulted with the Nelthropp family on St Croix and with historians and rum experts before declaring from their corporate headquarters in Illinois that slavery was not used in the making of what is today Cruzan Rum.”

While Bill No. 26-0089 is still making its way back to the senate floor, ACRRA remains optimistic that, once the historical facts are presented and the information is shared, the producers of Cruzan Rum and other corporations in the territory will join the list of their corporate peers in the US by accepting the noble and honourable responsibility to address and disclose their historical ties to slavery. The organisation is working through partnerships with scholars and researchers in St Croix and Denmark to document the history of slavery at Estate Diamond and related properties. The report will highlight the corporate use of slave labour in the production of rum in the territory and will aim to set the record straight regarding the contributions made by enslaved Africans to what is today the Virgin Islands rum industry.

For now, ACRRA said it intends to reply to Fortune’s letter and will continue to pursue the issue of slavery era disclosure. The organisation was formed in 2004 to seek repair for slave descendants and to address centuries of slavery in the Caribbean. In 2005, ACRRA led an official USVI delegation to Denmark for reparations talks. The delegation included Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen, Senate President Usie Richards and Sen. Terrence Nelson. Since then, ACRRA and the Danish Institute for Human Rights, a non-government organization, have formed the Joint Virgin Islands/Denmark Reparations Task Force to foster dialogue between the two governments and to educate the public.

Black Caucus stirs the Rumpot

By T.W. Farnam

A rum war is stirring up Capitol Hill.

The congressional delegates from the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are fighting over a tax law used as part of a deal to move production of Captain Morgan spiced rum from one island to the other.

Captain Morgan rum is now produced in Puerto Rico for the British company Diageo PLC, and tax revenues on the rum are returned to the island as part of a law that comes up for renewal every year. Diageo struck a deal with the Virgin Islands, which also gets rum taxes back from the U.S. Treasury, to move production there; the deal will bring the Virgin Islands an estimated $6 billion in tax revenues over its 30-year duration. Under the agreement, much of that money would be spent on programs benefiting Diageo.

Puerto Rican officials call arrangement between the Virgin Islands and Diageo an unfair corporate subsidy that should be outlawed, and Puerto Rico’s delegate to Congress along with several other Hispanic legislators have been pressing to change the law.

This week, members of the Congressional Black Caucus weighed in on behalf of the Virgin Islands, which is fighting any change.

Both sides have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbying over the issue. Puerto Rico’s nonvoting representative in Congress, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, a Democrat, and several allied Hispanic legislators are pushing a bill that would prohibit spending more than a small fraction of the tax revenue on programs benefiting rum producers. Wednesday night, a bill extending for a year the rum tax payments to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as well as other tax laws passed the House without any amendments.

On Tuesday, 29 members of the Congressional Black Caucus sent a letter to Rep. Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.), chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee on behalf of the Virgin Islands. The proposed change, they said, would set “a dangerous precedent and once again disadvantage the territories in their quest to improve their economies and spur new development.”

Rangel, for his part, is noncommittal. The chairman, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said in a Wednesday night interview that he hadn’t seen the letter. “I am open to any suggestions from my friends from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands,” he said. “To me the most practical thing for them to do is to get together and work this out.”

St Nicholas slays the Canadians

Where rum needs no umbrella

Friday, December 4th, 2009 | 3:00 pm

Canwest News Service

We’re in the old stone tasting room at historic St. Nicholas Abbey on Barbados, surrounded by copper-pot stills and oak barrels and the nose- ticklingly spicy aroma of the aged rum in our glasses.

Outside, the warm Caribbean breeze rustles through acres of sugar cane that one day will end up in a glass just like this. Because what we’re tasting today isn’t just a luscious award-winning rum, but the distillation of 350 years of Caribbean tradition and, if all goes according to plan, the spirit of the islands’ future.

“We are really providing an authentic product,” says Larry Warren, owner of St. Nicholas Abbey. “It’s the truest single-cask rum in the world.”

When Warren bought the Jacobean manor a few years ago, it was on the verge of being turned into condos. Now, not only has the Bajan architect refurbished the home to its 17th-century grandeur, but he has also revived the old sugar plantation. He plans to work it the way it was done before modern mechanization – and that includes making rum from sugar canes harvested on his own land, then juiced, fermented, pot-stilled and aged. It will take a few years to become self-sufficient, of course, so until then St. Nicholas Abbey 10-year-old rum is being produced with the help of the highly regarded Foursquare Distillery.

“We’re trying to make it a sustainable business,” Warren says. “These products will ultimately sustain the lands. The sugar cane will sustain the lands.”

The cane will sustain a new type of tourism, too, attracting the sort of visitor who travels with tasting glass in hand.

Throughout the Caribbean, rum distilleries are flinging open their doors, inviting guests in for tastings of the beverage that has been so famously enjoyed by pirates, partying college kids and, more recently, discerning mixologists.

Unlike, say, cognac, rum has gotten little respect in the past, perhaps because it was so often used in fruity drinks garnished with paper umbrellas. That’s changing, thanks to a handful of Caribbean distilleries that are creating handcrafted spirits that appeal to sophisticated palates.

Barbados, considered the birthplace of rum, is the epicentre of this movement. In addition to St. Nicholas Abbey and Foursquare, there’s Mount Gilboa, the island’s oldest distillery, which produces a pot-stilled rum that has connoisseurs swooning, and Mount Gay, the most prestigious of the island’s big distilleries, which has begun work on its own pot-stilled rum. As Mount Gay’s master blender Allen Smith notes, “There’s a lot of interest in the complexity of these rums.”

But it’s not just Barbados that’s seeing a renaissance of great grog. There’s also Antigua’s English Harbour pot-stilled and oak-aged rums, the Dominican Republic’s prized Ron Barcelo and Bruguel Extra Viejo, Guyana’s El Dorado 15-year-old rums and Rhum Barbancourt, Haiti’s “rum agricole” made from sugar-cane juice instead of molasses.

Today, almost every one of the islands offers some sort of special rum, an amber elixir of spice and fruit and caramel that distills the very essence of the Caribbean.

– For more information, visit the Barbados Tourism Authority at, and, for more on Caribbean rum, the very helpful Authentic Caribbean Rum site at

Mad Bird in the pink in Wisconsin

Salud! Mad Bird flies in the face of traditional rum

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By CHRIS MARTELL | | 608-252-6179 | Posted: Tuesday, December 8, 2009 5:00 am | No Comments Posted

buy this photo Mad Bird rum Submitted photo

Rum conjures up thoughts of Caribbean pirates, Fidel Castro and sugary cocktails with paper parasols.

But until now, it has not been associated with pink plastic flamingos and Bascom Hill.

Mad Bird rum, made by Dane County’s only producer of spirits, Yahara Bay Distillers, changes that. Named for Madison’s official city bird — the pink plastic flamingo — Mad Bird rum is amber, viscous and worthy of sipping without the camouflage of Coca-Cola.

Just one barrel of Mad Bird was opened in October and poured into 350 bottles, whose signed labels recount the tale of Madison’s curious relationship with plastic flamingos since 1979. That was the year the city awoke to find 1,008 of the creatures perched on Bascom Hill as the result of a student government prank.

750 ml bottles of Mad Bird rum are available for about $25 at local liquor stores and at the distillery, located at 3118 Kingsley Way, just south of the Beltline near Fish Hatchery Road.

More Mad Bird rum will be liberated soon from two additional barrels. Owner-distiller Nick Quint said enthusiasm for the silky elixir has been so strong that more will be produced.

Mad Bird rum began its journey along with Yahara Bay’s white rum, but it languished in a new charred oak barrel two years, which created its molten gold color. The liquor has so much body that it melts slowly down the sides of a glass when it’s swirled.

“The difference between the white rum and Mad Bird rum is night and day,” Quint said.

“I don’t really know what made it turn out like this,” he said. “Maybe it was because we agitated it, which isn’t usually done. That’s the beauty of being an artisan distillery — we can experiment.”

Another recent experiment involved a chocolate liqueur, which he claims turned out so well they’re not sure they want to bottle it for sale.

Yahara Bay Distillers, which opened about two years ago, also produces premium vodka, gin, apple brandy, limoncello and Apple Crisp liqueur in small batches using Wisconsin ingredients when possible.

Don Q y Las Doñas

Don Q Puerto Ricos Premium Rum Launches an Innovative Digital Marketing
Campaign with LadyData.

Traditionally, liquor brands allocate less than 1% of their marketing
budget to digital marketing initiatives. By contrast, DonQ Rum invests 30%.

Roberto J. Serrallés, of Serrallés USA, exclusive distributors of Puerto
Rico’s preferred rum, DonQ, announces the launch of LadyData, a digital
collection of advice and answers sourced from hundreds of real women.
Bucking an industry-wide trend toward lavish promotions and tasting
campaigns, DonQ Rum has created a program to generate brand awareness and
ultimately trial by targeting adult men in the places they spend the most
time: online and on their mobile phones.

“We noticed that the liquor category was crowded by high-volume, one-way
advertising initiatives, leaving a clear space for a brand to enter with a
service-oriented marketing perspective”

Serrallés said, “We’re seeking new ways to tap into the every day lives of
DonQ’s core customer base. Our partner, Undercurrent, successfully
delivered a multiplatform digital strategy that has exponential
opportunities to increase brand awareness while providing a vital service.
Instead of shouting our brand name whenever possible, we’re creating
digital products that our target will actually use.”

Undercurrent recruited and compiled responses from over 100 women who
answered questions in seven categories where men need the most help:
Dating, Style, Success, Nightlife, Mr. Manners, Worldly-Wise, and Dude 101.
The system contains more than 35,000 data points—each of 132 women
contributed an answer and a comment for over 100 questions—and is updated
constantly with queries sourced from DonQ’s growing community. Through the
data, men will see that their phones need to stay in their pockets during
dates (71% agree), that they should never leave home without cash to cover
dinner and drinks (78% agree) and that the “Three-Day Rule” is a myth (100%
of the surveyed ladies want to be called back within 2 days of a date).

Traditionally, liquor brands have allocated less than 1% of their
marketing budget to digital marketing initiatives. By contrast, DonQ Rum
invests approximately 30% of their budget in digital product development in
an effort to bridge the gap between a tangible introduction to a high
quality rum product and an engaging marketing experience. DonQ Rum has
forged true partnerships with a range of digital properties, from
established networks like Facebook to startups eager to prove monetization
prospects including Foursquare, Buzzfeed, Nerve, Tumblr, Mixologist,
HappyHoured and The Deck Network.

“We noticed that the liquor category was crowded by high-volume, one-way
advertising initiatives, leaving a clear space for a brand to enter with a
service-oriented marketing perspective,” said Undercurrent’s lead
strategist on the project, Clay Parker Jones. “With a combination of rich
heritage, a nimble and sophisticated marketing and sales team, and a
willingness to do the unexpected, DonQ was uniquely positioned to create
and support digital services that enrich the lives of their target

About Serrallés USA: Headquartered in Dallas, TX, Serrallés USA is the
exclusive importer of DonQ, Puerto Rico`s Premium Rum. Serrallés USA
imports DonQ Cristal, DonQ Gold, DonQ Añejo, DonQ Gran Añejo and DonQ
Limón, DonQ Coco, and DonQ Mojito. Its flagship brand DonQ Cristal is the
#1 selling rum in the island, where more than 70% of the rum consumed in
the U.S. is produced. DonQ Rum is manufactured by Destilería Serrallés Inc.
in Ponce, Puerto Rico, where the premium rum making tradition first started
in 1865. Please visit us at


Michael Dennehy
Catch 21 Consulting
Ph: 201-370-8057
Fx: 201-786-9073

Bill Branley
Catch 21 Consulting
917- 403-9979