Re-posting: Joint Barbados GI Statement From Mount Gay, Foursquare & St Nicholas Abbey by Rum Revelations

I usually don`t repost other`s posts here but this time I want to state my support for this topic which I feel is important and which couldn`t be said any better than what is written by Ivar de Laat who run the Rum Revelations blog. I`m not re-posting the whole content but a part and those who are interested in reading the rest may head over to the Rum Revelations blog.

Joint Barbados GI Statement From Mount Gay, Foursquare & St Nicholas Abbey

For a while now, the people of Barbados have been trying to implement a GI for their rum. GI stands for Geographical Indication. “The use of a GI may act as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities, is made according to traditional methods, or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin.“

There are four distilleries on the island, namely Mount Gay, Foursquare, St Nicholas Abbey and West Indies Rum Distillery. The government of Barbados wants all four to agree on a draft GI that can be forwarded to the government for consideration. This has turned out to be a difficult task. Three distilleries are in agreement on what the GI should look like, WIRD is not. They were recently taken over by French company Maison Ferrand, known in the rum world through their Plantation brand.

Similar to what’s happening in Jamaica, where Ferrand is trying to change the existing GI (more about that in this article), they want to be able to add sugar to their rum (20g/l), which is what they do to many of their products. This is something completely foreign to Barbados rum and therefore unacceptable to the other distilleries. It doesn’t stop there. They also want to be able to use any water source, any cask type for ageing, any yeast type and age the rum anywhere in the world after 1 year in Barbados. Apart from the one year ageing, it takes all geographical components out of the Geographical Indication. Essentially making it a generic rum that could be made anywhere.

Click here for an article where Ferrand explains their position, including very far fetched historic “facts” to motivate why everything should be allowed in the GI. Alexandre Gabriel, owner of Ferrand, later explained on his own Facebook page that they want to be able to add 20g/l of sugar to Barbados rum. The historical “fact” for this one is that caramel colouring has been used for centuries in Barbados rum, which leaves a trace of sugar. Not mentioning the fact that caramel colouring is bitter and the sugar it leaves is a microscopic amount. It was never meant to sweeten the rum (it doesn’t), just colour it. My personal opinion is that these kind of statements are propaganda at best.

As I mentioned in my post on Long Pond rums, a GI as proposed by the other 3 distilleries, wouldn’t stop Ferrand from doing their experiments. They simply can’t label it as Barbados rum.

Barbados rum, like Jamaica rum, is an institute…..they are part of the foundation of rum and should be cherished, loved, respected and protected. It’s a real shame that a company which constantly says they respect the terroir of all the different rums, while taking these same rums further and further away from their terroir with all their experiments, is able to stall this process of protecting Barbados rum, purely for financial gain. I feel for the people of Barbados, who should be the ones deciding what happens with their rum tradition.

Foursquare, Mount Gay and St Nicholas Abbey have come up with a press release. Here below it is in its entirety, head over to Rum Revelations blog and scroll down to read the press release:

BARBADOS DISTILLERS UNITE IN PUSH FOR A GI