WIRSPA has adopted a written Code of Practice to govern and promote the responsible advertising and marketing of spirits drinks by its members. It may be downloaded here: WIRSPA Code of Practice
Download a pdf copy here: RUM AND THE ACP CARIBBEAN final
The Caribbean Sea covers over a million square miles and is home to a vast array of different cultures and languages representing all continents of the globe. Rum has played a significant role in the economic and social development of the Caribbean and Authentic Caribbean Rum is unique – no other spirit can boast such a rich and diverse heritage. Our rums are the product of a craft developed and refined over centuries and of a history entwined with trade and steeped with the spirit of discovery.
…over 30 rum companies with many additional artisanal producers
…10 main brands, 15 niche brands and around 70 brand variants
…annual production of 31m cases
… export volume of 20m cases in a world spirits market of over 3 billion cases
…exports earn over US$500m p.a. in foreign exchange
…annual taxes paid to govts in excess of USD250m
…direct employment c.10,000
…indirect employment estimated at 100,000 +
The ACR Marque
The Authentic Caribbean Rum (ACR) marque is a symbol of authenticity, provenance and quality for rums within the WIRSPA family. As usage of the marque grows it will act as a visual symbol to help trade and consumers identify ACR brands. It will promote the development of Authentic Caribbean Rum as a distinct sector within the drinks industry.
The industry has maintained employment numbers over the past decade despite investment in modernisation. Female employment has increased with higher skill levels also evident. Many of the producer distilleries are located in rural sugar cane producing areas which, due to a decline in sugar production now have high unemployment. They therefore provide a positive employment effect in low income communities.
With circa 30 exporting producers, rum is one of the remaining productive sectors which has potential for sustainable employment and income-generation in high added value products. Rum is the largest agricultural based export, with over 60% of its production exported, earning over US $500m annually in foreign exchange. Taxes paid by WIRSPA producers to regional governments exceed US $250 million per annum.
How We Compare
With under 1% of the total world market for branded spirits, the Caribbean rum industry is a relative minnow in a big pond. The annual sales of the largest two multinational spirits producers at circa $27bn (combined marketing budgets of about $5bn) would place them 2nd in the ranking of ACP Caribbean countries by GDP. Our companies operate in a liberalised market where competing producers receive substantial subsidies and where we are yet to gain a foothold in major non-traditional markets such as the BRICs and Japan.
WIRSPA actively encourages best practice in energy efficiency, waste treatment and environmental protection and over the past decade major investments have been made in these areas. Twenty waste treatment and eleven renewable & energy conservation projects were undertaken by 20 companies in 13 countries, thus having a positive impact on the environment, reducing the use of fossil fuels and the carbon footprint of producers. Further benefits derive from an estimated 11% increase in efficiency levels over the past decade.
WIRSPA encourages its members to be fully aware of their responsibilities to their wider communities and adopt both responsible and ethical business practices. Alcohol has long played an integral part in most societies as does rum in the social, cultural and historical make up of the Caribbean. However, WIRSPA is acutely aware of the potential impact, on both individuals and society, of inappropriate consumption. WIRSPA is committed to working to make responsible drinking a valued and enjoyable part of life in a modern, responsible society. In particular WIRSPA fully supports international initiatives and has developed its own Code of Practice for Responsible Advertising and Marketing of Spirit Drinks.
The CARIFORUM Rum Sector Support (CRSS) Project
With funding from the European Union, WIRSPA is implementing on behalf of CARIFORUM the CRSS Project. The overall objective of the project is to build the long-term viability of the CARIFORUM rum sector as a significant source of employment, tax revenues and foreign exchange. A key activity is a limited communications campaign to promote the Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque in European and North American markets and to educate ACP Caribbean producers on the scale, industry structure, consumer and competitive landscape of targeted markets. Additional funding will be required if the Marque is to become a truly international symbol. The project also aims to increase collaboration between producers and exposure to new production and waste treatment techniques & technologies through training, knowledge sharing, benchmarking and the spreading of best practice.
October 2013: The West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers’ Association Inc. (WIRSPA) has unveiled its Marque of provenance to support and promote Authentic Caribbean Rum (ACR) brands.
The Marque is a visual symbol of provenance and quality, designed to help trade and consumers identify ACR brands, which is used to promote the development of Authentic Caribbean Rum as a distinct variety within the rum category. Because rum is made all around the world but Authentic Caribbean Rum is unique. No other spirit can boast such a rich and diverse heritage. ACR rums are the product of a craft developed and refined over centuries and the unrivalled range of ACR rums available today reflects the diversity of the countries and people who produce them. Each rum has its own distinct character and story all of its own. It is this combination of shared values and diversity of character which makes Authentic Caribbean Rums unique.
The Marque Criteria:
15 Caribbean country associations which make up the WIRSPA board* have agreed a common set of production standards to define Authentic Caribbean Rum:
• Rum must be fermented and distilled in one or more of these countries from product of sugar cane origin
• Flavouring is not permitted
• Where a statement of maturity and/or age is given:
o it shall be that of the youngest distilled spirit in the product
o the rum shall have been matured in wooden vats or barrels for not less than one year
The Marque can only be used by producers after approval of a licence agreement by the Board of WIRSPA. While each brand will maintain its individual character and identity, the Marque guarantees the authenticity and provenance of the rum.
Neil Morris, Head of Marketing at WIRSPA explains: “The Caribbean is the recognised ‘home’ of rum and offers a hugely diverse range of brands. With the popularity of rum increasing year on year, there is no doubt that consumers are not only looking to explore brands, but are also seeking some help in the selection process. The new ACR marque will, we believe, help meet both these objectives, while also helping to give further weight to the development of a distinct Authentic Caribbean Rum category.”
The new marque will be supported with an international trade education campaign including an online community for trade professionals, bar tender training, trade show attendance plus significant PR support.
Ageing is one of the key elements in the art of creating Authentic Caribbean Rum. To further develop the flavour and colour of rum it must be matured or ‘aged’ and traditionally, the bulk of ageing is undertaken in oak barrels. Whilst in the barrel the rum acts on the oak, compounds within the wood interact with the rum, contributing further aromas and flavours and gradually turning the rum from clear, to golden and eventually darker brown.
The length of time in the barrel and the number of times the barrel has been used both influence the ultimate character of the rum. And so does the local environment Because of the warm climate of the Caribbean, the aging process is much faster than that of spirits matured in more temperate conditions. As a consequence, a five year old rum can easily match the complexity and ‘age’ characteristics of other premium spirits that have been aged 10 – 15 years.
In this sense many of the world’s finest rum producers avoid using age statements as they feel it is not the most important aspect to assess the quality of the spirit. Balance, maturity and complexity are also achieved in other stages of rum production such as fermentation or blending.
In any case, for Authentic Caribbean Rum it is essential to ensure that what it says on the bottle is what is in the bottle. All Authentic Caribbean Rums are produced to the highest standards and thus conform to international best practice concerning statements of age. Any statement regarding the age of an Authentic Caribbean Rum will therefore refer solely to the age of the youngest rum in the blend.
It is not permitted to use the so-called ‘Solera’ method – the practice of adding quantities of fresh spirit into barrels containing older spirit – to establish an age claim for a product, neither is the practice of average ageing. While these are practices well used in some countries it is not permitted to be used as an age attribution for Authentic Caribbean Rum
Authentic Caribbean Rum has a rich and diverse heritage and is the product of a craft developed and refined over centuries. The range of Authentic Caribbean Rums available today, each with a distinct character of its own, reflects the diversity of the countries and people who produce the rums, a distillation of climate, geography, personality and passion.
Rum has been intertwined with Caribbean culture and heritage for nearly 400 years and despite several countries around the world laying claim to their own varieties, the Caribbean is celebrated as the spiritual centre of the rum world.
The spirit we know as rum today evolved with the sugar industry of the colonial Caribbean. Although cane spirits were being made wherever sugar was being grown (the plant itself originates in Papua New Guinea) long before sugar became a Caribbean crop, the rums of the Caribbean soon rose to the top of pile. By 1690, the exports of ‘spirits made from molasses’ was estimated to bring the Caribbean colonies over £500,000 annually.
Rum was in fact a by product of sugar production and in the seventeenth century, the spirit found in the Caribbean was described as “hot, hellish and terrible”. However, few years later a Dutch sea captain returning from the West Indies is reported to have written “the spirits are now smoother to the tongue and have acquired a golden colour during the voyage”. By the eighteenth century a hogshead of the finest aged Caribbean rum was reputed to be judged fit for George Washington’s inauguration party.
No doubt spurred on by this vote of confidence, Caribbean rum producers have spent the ensuing two centuries perfecting the arts of distillation, aging and blending. Today, almost all rum is aged in oak barrels, the process lasting up to thirty years or more and allowing the rum to acquire a golden to dark brown hue. As important as aging, the final stage of production is blending – truly an art form when it comes to creating the finest rums and the point at which a number of different incarnations of rum are skilfully combined with the personality of each country and a shot of heritage to produce something that only comes from this part of the world: Authentic Caribbean Rum.
The making of Rum
In essence, rum is the spirit distilled from the fermentation of sugars found in juice or molasses obtained from the sugar cane plant.
The latin name for sugar cane is Saccharum officinarum and a hundred tonnes of sugar cane will generate 10-11 tonnes of sugar plus 3-4 tonnes of molasses. It is produced in the Caribbean in all countries with a sugar industry but main producers in the region are Belize, Dominican Republic, Guyana and Jamaica. Most of the Caribbean territories will start to crop sugar cane in February and finish in June or July. The harvested canes are chopped and crushed to extract the juice which is then boiled to produce a syrup. This syrup has improved longevity, and is often referred to as high-test molasses. It can be used to produce rum but will more often be used to produce sugar and the more traditional blackstrap molasses.
After evaporation and concentration of sugar cane juice and the removal of the sugar crystals which form as the syrup cools, a rich chocolate-coloured liquid, known as molasses, remains. The rum maker then performs his equivalent of alchemy – turning the quicksilver texture, rich ebony tone and robust flavours of molasses into the golden spirit of rum. A tonne of molasses would yield around 200-250 litres of pure alcohol and in addition to producing rums of excellent quality, molasses is widely used for culinary purposes and has long been considered to possess positive health benefits.
Rum can also be produced direct from cane juice, although this tends to be limited to producers who due to local conditions have access cane juice and/or where molasses is not available and to small artisanal producers.
Rum produced from either molasses, cane syrup or fresh juice are equally valid expressions and every bit as legitimate as each other.
Molasses is diluted with water and wild or specially cultivated strains of yeast are added to begin the process of fermentation. As it grows and consumes the sugars in the molasses it produces alcohol. The action of the yeast within this ‘wash’ also produces a number of compounds, known as congeners – all of which contribute to the complex flavours and aromas of rum. The length and temperature of fermentation also affects the final product.
Once fermentation is finished, the now mildly alcoholic wash (up to 10% by volume) is ready for distillation. The wash is heated with steam in a still, the equivalent of a large sealed kettle. The alcohol is liberated from the wash as a vapour and is captured as a condensed distillate, what is called the ‘heart’ of a spirit. The complex compounds in the wash developed by the yeast are preserved in this distillate.
All rums were originally made in pot stills, which are large copper kettles similar in shape to those used in the production of malt whisky. Pot stills are used in a batch system, distilling a single quantity of wash at a time. However, many makers now also use column stills – comprising two linked cylindrical ‘kettles’ called the analyzer and the rectifier – which can produce a constant flow of rum. This spirit or ‘mark’ produced during distillation is crystal clear un-aged rum.
To further develop the flavour and colour of rum it must be matured or ‘aged’ and traditionally, the bulk of ageing is undertaken in oak barrels. Due to geographical proximity, availability and tradition these are often ones that have been formerly used to age Bourbon.
However, a wide variety of ‘finishes’ may be achieved through final ageing in casks used for other drinks e.g. Sherry, Port, Cognac and Whisky or even the storage of Liqueurs and fruit based macerations.
After his precious stills, a rum maker’s barrels are his most valuable asset. Whilst in the barrel the rum acts on the oak, compounds within the wood interact with the rum, contributing further aromas and flavours and gradually turning the rum from clear, to golden and eventually darker brown.
The length of time in the barrel and the number of times the barrel has been used both influence the ultimate character of the rum. And so does the local environment at both macro and micro level. During ageing, barrels may be moved around ageing areas to enjoy different conditions but the major factor is the climate of the region that means because of the warm climate of the Caribbean, the aging process is much faster than that of spirits matured in more temperate conditions. As a consequence, a five year old rum can easily match the complexity and ‘age’ characteristics of other premium spirits that have been aged 10 or 15 years. It is important then to look at more than just the number on a bottle, when assessing the spirit.
Finally, the aged rums may be blended, an art particularly well advanced amongst rum makers and it is here that the magic exists. Most rum producers will argue that it is the art of the master blender (or Maestro Ronero) that is the key factor in crafting truly great rum. The highly experienced blender will have manipulated his rums through the ageing process and may combine a number of different aged rums and finishes to achieve a perfect palette of flavours and aromas thus creating a masterpiece worthy of the title Authentic Caribbean Rum.
• New educational and awareness campaign for The Authentic Caribbean Rum (ACR) Marque launches across Europe, North America and other countries from 2013 to 2015
• The Marque will be present at Bar Convent Berlin 2013 as a first step to launch in new international markets
• Recognised spirits professionals to be part of the Authentic Caribbean Rum International Panel
October 2013 – The West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers’ Association Inc. (WIRSPA) is to begin a new international campaign to raise awareness for its Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque, the symbol of authenticity, provenance and quality for rums produced in 15 Caribbean countries which have agreed to adhere to its quality control and production standards.
To launch this new campaign, the ACR marque will be present at Bar Convent Berlin 2013 presenting its new international activities and educational programmes for trade professionals who will be able to taste the incredible range of ACR rums available.
As part of an extensive educational campaign across Europe, USA, Canada and other international markets, the ACR Marque has appointed its first International Panel which will be responsible for creating and delivering an international training programme to educate trade professionals on the diversity, quality and versatility of rums under the Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque.
The panel is made up of the following spirits professionals:
Bastian Heuser: bartender, beverage consultant freelance writer for Mixology Magazine, and co-founder and managing director of Bar Convent Berlin
Gegoire Erchoff: 20 years of bartending Experience in France, Miami and New York
Andrew Nicholls: world renowned mixologist, presenter at Sipped.tv and co-founder of Barchaeology
Daniele Biondi: founder and CEO of Rum Club Italiano and beverage and spirits consultant
Miguel Figueredo: writer, consultant and bartender with experience in Spain, Germany, Holland, New York, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic
Amit Sood: experienced bartender with wide-ranging international experience in bartender training and consultancy, currently head of professional training at Shaker, London.
WIRSPA Head of Marketing Neil Morris said: “I am delighted that we are able to continue the work started in support of this great range of rums. There is huge diversity and quality in rum from the ACP Caribbean*, so promotion of the Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque and carrying the message to international professionals is an exciting task for all of us”.
The campaign will be developed and implemented by a consortium of European agencies led by apple tree communications who were awarded the contract by the Caribbean Forum of ACP States* after a formal tender process. Lionhouse Creative will head up the campaign in the UK. It will cover a wide range of activities including training, events and PR.
*ACP stands for ‘Africa, Caribbean and Pacific’. The ACP Caribbean states are countries that are signatories of the Lomé Convention signed in 1975. This was superseded by the Cotonou Agreement in June 2000. The countries are: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Kitts-Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.
About the ACR Marque
The Authentic Caribbean Rum (ACR) Marque was developed as a symbol of authenticity, provenance and quality for rums within the WIRSPA family. As usage of the Marque grows it will act as a visual symbol to help trade customers and consumers identify ACR brands, but in the short-term it will be used to promote the development of Authentic Caribbean Rum as a distinct sector within the drinks industry.
For more information visit www.wirspa.com
The West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers’ Association Inc. (WIRSPA) is an ‘association of associations’ in that it represents distillers associations from across the ACP Caribbean. The current Chairman is Dr. Frank Ward from Barbados.
WIRSPA implements, on behalf of the CARIFORUM group of countries, an EU funded support project to develop the Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque and to build technical collaboration amongst producers. WIRSPA also implemented over 2003 – 2010 a major programme co-funded by the EU to modernise and stimulate the rum industry in the ACP Caribbean. One of the outcomes of this programme was the creation of the Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque.
October 2013 – The ACR Marque is a visual symbol of authenticity, quality and provenance that ensures a common standard of production across a rich and diverse region of the world that’s widely recognized as the home and birthplace of rum. Authentic Caribbean Rum is distilled in 30 distilleries around the Caribbean, and though not all are licensed as yet, they are united in their passion for creating high quality rums.
Quality: 15 Caribbean country associations which make up the WIRSPA board have agreed a common set of production standards to define Authentic Caribbean Rum. The Marque can only be used by producers after approval of a licence agreement by the Board of WIRSPA. While each brand will maintain its individual character and identity, the Marque guarantees the authenticity and provenance of the rum.
Diversity: The Caribbean Sea covers over one million square miles filled with history that has shaped a region which is home to a vast array of different cultures and languages representing all continents of the world.
The processes used to craft Authentic Caribbean Rums are as diverse as the countries they come from. Variations in the arts of fermentation, distillation, aging and blending ensure a wide choice of rums to suit every taste and serving style and each rum has its own distinct character and story all of its own. It is this combination of shared values and diversity of character which makes Authentic Caribbean Rums unique.
Versatility: The most versatile of spirits, rum not only forms the basis of the world’s greatest cocktails from the Mojito to the Daiquiri, the Presidente to the Mai-Tai but is also a great long drink served with ginger ale, soda water, ginger beer, cola, fruit juices or coconut water, while premium quality rums are perfect for sipping neat or over ice.
Authentic Caribbean Rum is unique. No other spirit can boast such a rich and diverse heritage. Authentic Caribbean Rums are the product of a craft developed and refined over centuries and of a history entwined with trade and steeped with the spirit of discovery. The unrivalled range of Authentic Caribbean Rums available today, each with a distinct character of its own, reflects the diversity of the islands and people who produce them – a distillation of climate, geography, personality and passion.
You’re reading your very own passport to discovery. Within these pages you’ll uncover just what makes rums from this part of the world so special. Whether you feel like a cocktail with friends, a long slow drink in the sunshine or a relaxed measure straight up, True Rum is your visa in a glass. Read on for an introduction to the distilleries and the countries they call home, the rums they carefully craft and tips on how to enjoy them.
Download the Rum Guide “Book of Discovery” here: Rum Guide Book
Rum is experiencing a global renaissance. Perhaps this isn’t surprising as it may confidently lay claim to being the most prolific and most variable of all of the world’s spirits. Defying all attempts at generalisation, rum, unlike many other spirits, really can be seen as a drink with a global footprint and a worldwide audience. Download the rum market report “Unlocking the Potential for Authentic Caribbean Rum” here: Rum Market Report