Cheers - September, 2015

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Page 43 of 51 44 • September 2015 ON THE ROAD By Melissa Dowling While many recognize the Caribbean as the home of rum, few understand the nuances of the spirit and what's unique about the rums of the region. The West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers' Association (WIRSPA) aims to change that with a new rum education campaign. The program includes a certification program for bartenders and trade professionals in Europe and North America. The group also unveiled the Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque, a symbol of a spirit's provenance, authen- ticity, quality and diversity earlier this year. The region boasts a rich and diverse heritage of rum production. The spir- it, which is made from sugarcane juice or molasses, was likely first distilled in Caribbean sugarcane plantations in the 17th century, after Christopher Columbus brought sugarcane to Hispaniola (what is now Haiti and the Dominican Republic). WIRSPA hosted a group of North American spirits journalists in the Dominican Republic and Haiti this past June to provide some insight and education on the rums of the Caribbean. Here are some of the highlights. THE LOCAL FLAVOR OF DOMINICAN RUM Ron Barcelo was founded in 1930 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Barceló Export Import, S.R.L (BEICA) was created in 2002. Its rum is pro- duced from sugarcane by Alcoholes Finos Dominicanos (AFD), a plant that generates its own electricity from the bagasse (the dry residue from the sugar cane milling). Barcelo rums are aged a minimum of one year in American white oak bar- rels; the barrels are toasted to protect the alcohol and the wood. The climate's AN EDUCATION ON CARIBBEAN RUM high humidity makes rum evaporate and age faster; producers lose up to 10% of the rum to evaporation in a year. The company, which employs 1,112 people directly and 2,600 indirectly, has several initiatives to support the local community. Barcelo also opened a visitor's center and museum at its pro- cessing plant in 2012 to help educate consumers on how rum is produced and the spirit's history. FIVE GENERATIONS OF RUM MAKING "Water is the most important raw ma- terial in making rum—besides sugar," says Gustavo Ortega, a fifth-generation master distiller with Brugal. The water used to make Brugal's rum comes from the Puerto Plata mountain springs in the Dominican Republic. Founded more than 125 years ago, Brugal rum has been owned by The Edrington Group since 2008. The com- pany has introduced a number of new rums and styles, including Brugal 1888 rum in 2011. The first rum as a result of working with Edrington, 1888 is aged in white American oak casks, followed by two to four years in first-filled Spanish sherry oak casks—the same casks used to age the parent company's Macallan Scotch whisky. Brugal at press time had just re- leased its Papá Andrés 2015 Alegria Edition, which is priced at $1,500 and comes in a crystal decanter. Profits from the rum will go to the Brugal Foundation, which aims to reduce pov- erty in the Dominican Republic. PERSEVERING AFTER DISASTER STRIKES Founded in 1862, Rhum Barbancourt uses sugarcane—no molasses—for its rum. The harvested sugarcane is crushed and processed at Barbancourt's facility in Port au Prince, Haiti. The rum is distilled twice and aged in large French limousin oak casks. When the massive earthquake devastated Haiti in January 2010, the Barbancourt distillery lost near- ly half of the rum it was aging, says

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