Barbancourt 150!

When pushed to choose, I usually call Barbancourt 15 my favorite!


Haiti’s Rhum Barbancourt Celebrates 150 Years With Special Edition

December 24, 2012 | 2:10 pm | Print

Above: the Cuvee 150 Ans

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Haiti’s Rhum Barbancourt is launching a new special edition to mark the company’s 150th anniversary, the company announced.

Barbancourt’s Cuvee 150 Ans is a special blend in an art deco bottle developed in partnership with international designer Mickael Kramer.

Each crystal bottle will have its own unique number and a sandblasted Rhum Barbancourt anniversary logo.

While it will initially be available only in Haiti, the company said it would soon be expanding its availability to the United States and Canada.

Barbancourt has been produced continuously since 1862 (coincidentally, the same year that Don Facundo Bacardi started operations in Cuba), with the exception of a period following Haiti’s earthquake in 2010.

Rum Rebellion?

Rumpundit from the beginning of this saga has maintained that the Caricom countries have a great case for the WTO. Interesting point for the future… does the Puerto Rico statehood vote affect the subsidy down the line?

Rum, rivalry, resistance

Sir Ronald Sanders

23 December 2012

THE Caribbean Community (Caricom) trade ministers issued a statement on December 11 stating that “Caricom countries continue to have serious concerns about the threat to the competitiveness of Caribbean rum in the United States market resulting from the massive subsidies provided by the governments of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) and Puerto Rico to multinational rum producers in those territories”.

After seven months of writing about this matter, I welcome this statement from the trade ministers underlying that “rum production and export are critical to the social and economic well-being of the region”.

Much valuable time has been lost and much has to be done quickly if the rum industry of the CARIFORUM countries is not to be displaced in the US market. CARIFORUM consists of the 14 independent Caricom countries and the Dominican Republic.

In previous commentaries I drew attention to the adverse effects on CARIFORUM countries if the USVI and Puerto Rico governments continue to provide massive subsidies to rum companies in their territories — derived from a tax refund from the US Federal Government called a “cover-over” tax. To recap, CARIFORUM countries stand to lose US$700 million in foreign exchange annually, the jobs of 15,000 workers directly employed in the rum industry, and another 60,000 jobs that benefit from it. Governments will lose over US$250 million in annual tax revenues.

I have also pointed out that bulk rum producers in some Caricom states have already lost contracts in the US market valued at millions of dollars because of the cheaper prices of the heavily subsidised USVI rum producers.

This situation will get far worse as these heavily subsidised companies increase production.

Because I had also pointed out that the CARIFORUM country that would be the biggest loser is Barbados, it is encouraging to see Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart stating in Parliament on December 18 that, “We cannot rule out the prospect of this matter reaching the WTO”, although he added, “but that is not the first-resort expedience”. Rum exports to the US market in 2010 were worth US$17.2 m to Barbados — twice as much as its exports to the European Union market.

Delay in taking firm action is not in the interest of CARIFORUM countries. The longer they wait to stop these subsidies, the more unfairly entrenched the subsidised companies in the USVI and Puerto Rico will become in the US market.

Diplomatic efforts have been made consistently during the past few months and, by all accounts, the Barbadian ambassador to the US, John Beale, has been particularly active. But these efforts have produced no meaningful results. A letter written on August 24 to US President Barack Obama by St Lucia Prime Minister Kenny Anthony, as chairman of Caricom, has remained unanswered, and a previous letter on August 9, sent by CARIFORUM ambassadors in Washington to the US trade Representative, Ron Kirk, received a non-committal reply in October.

This led Caricom trade ministers, at their December meeting, to call on the US Government “to engage early with Caribbean rum-producing countries with a view to achieving an outcome that will support the continued competitive access for Caribbean rum to the US market”.

Frankly, there is not much chance of the US Government responding to that call, anymore than anyone should expect — as has been suggested — US Attorney-General Eric Holder to be helpful because “his parents were born in Barbados”.

The US Government did not pick this fight. Neither did the CARIFORUM countries. The local governments of the USVI and Puerto Rico have created the situation. Unfortunately for the US Federal Government, it has responsibility for the actions of its territories under international law and treaties. So, inasmuch as neither the US Government nor the CARIFORUM governments like it, they have a dispute on their hands, and it cannot be solved by diplomatic consultations alone. In the US, this is not a matter for the Government only; Congress also has a hand in it. And little or nothing will be done without compulsion.

The only compulsion is what some CARIFORUM governments appear reluctant to invoke, and that is to take the matter to the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

CARIFORUM governments have received at least three expert legal opinions that WTO rules have been violated by the actions of the USVI and Puerto Rico governments, and they have an eminently winnable case against the US at the WTO. There should be no stopping them now.

Throughout its history, rum producers from Caricom countries have faced unfair rivalry. They have been compelled to resist, as recorded in the excellent account, Rum, Rivalry and Resistance by Tony Talburt, published by Hansib in 2010.

Resistance continues to be necessary to safeguard this spirit which is so deeply intertwined with our Caribbean civilisation. The Government of the Dominican Republic has shown its readiness to proceed to the WTO; indications are that Barbados may now be willing to join. All of the governments of the CARIFORUM countries have a duty of care to their people; they will be doing no more than fulfilling that duty by going to the WTO. At the very least, the governments of Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago should throw their weight behind the Dominican Republic and Barbados.

Those CARIFORUM countries that do not join resistance at the WTO will not only show no spirit, they will also be entitled to no benefits that may be awarded. And, if none of them do anything other than engage in the delaying exercise of diplomatic consultations with the US, more than the spirituous Caribbean rum will die; the Caribbean spirit of resistance will die too.

The US Trade Representative’s Office is expert at prolonging “consultations” and delaying WTO arbitration. But time is not on the side of CARIFORUM rums, as trade ministers agreed.

Sir Ronald Sanders is a consultant and visiting fellow, London University

Responses and previous commentaries:

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Spirit of Xmas Future!

IN PROUSTIAN FASHION, Christmas is an olfactory as well as a culinary event. The smell of conifer resin, roasting poultry and, in the old days, cigars given to deserving dads, should always be complemented with the smell of brandies, rums and other rich and fine spirits wafting from puddings and snifters alike.

Good Christmas Spirits are not really for Scrooge. Prices for trophy booze of the kind you might use to show appreciation are soaring.

But seasonal spirits are forever. Recipients might look a gift bottle down the neck, but it is also supposed to sit in the cabinet exuding its trophy-hood and prestige, a monument to the exquisite taste and sensibilities of gifter and gifted alike.

The prize for prestige is Appleton’s timely 50-year-old rum (pictured left) , casked to mark Jamaica’s independence in 1962 and bottled this year to celebrate the anniversary. A mere 800 bottles are for sale – at a mere $5,000 each. Apart from the elegant crystal bottle it is smooth but bursting with a flavor and bouquet. And bound to be an investment if it stays unopened.

It’s not crystal, but the decanter on Pusser’s 15-year-old Navy Rum is porcelain engraved with scenes from Nelson’s famous victories to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. Made in unique wooden pot-stills to the old Royal Navy formula, at $105 a bottle it is a bargain!

The Macallan just broke the world’s price record at auction with its 64-year-old going for $460,000. But you can still make friends with a bottle of 25 year old (pictured left), which is a relative deal at less than $700. The Macallans of all ages are a joy to drink anyway.

But if you are not into single malts, you could always hit Johnnie Walker’s “Diamond Jubilee,” 60 bottles, sorry “editions,” of which sold for $160,000 earlier this year. Casked for the Coronation, the 60 year old Scotch is a jewel in itself, but its setting is a diamond-shaped Baccarat crystal decanter with 6 legs, for each decade of the reign. (pictured top)

Weighing in at up to $4,000 a bottle, Courvoisier Succession J.S. (pictured left) is a limited edition, not least since the company no longer makes it. The IWSC calls it, “Rich, deep and uplifting,” and “A very well looked after cognac,” blended for the bi-centenary of Napoleon’s coronation, the bottle comes in a handmade, wooden replica of his war chest.

Almost a bargain is a bottle of 1952 Armagnac Laubade, which allows owners to hold forth with sophistication on the “other” French brandy, which will cost a mere $800 or so – but with three score years and ten on the big label, who looks at the price tag


Agave spirit futures look good with even premium Mezcals becoming collectors items. But crafted for the gift market, Gran Patrón Burdeos Tequila (pictured left) looks the part with its tasteful bottle and elegant contents, which will cost over $400. Too good to waste in a margarita, this is for swirling, savoring – and showing off! -IW

GP Libations No. 1: Tequila
GP Libations No. 2: Rum
GP Libations No. 3: Aging Spirits

Posted on December 19th, 2012