UK rum with Jamaican roots wins spirits award

BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter

Thursday, June 25, 2015

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MORANT Bay Distillery Rum has copped a silver award for its Signature Edition Spiced Red Rum entered in the UK-based International Spirits Challenge competition earlier this year.

Chief executive officer of the Morant Bay Rum company, Peter Townsend, says the company is now looking to bring its United Kingdom-based (UK) operations back to Jamaica through the establishment of a distillery in Carawinna district, Westmoreland. The company plans on distributing its rum to the Americas, China and other international markets, while developing more economical opportunities for Jamaica to export globally.

"This is the first time that Morant Bay Rum has entered the International Spirits Challenge — as we have taken the best part of three years in product development -- but we were nominated for this industry award within 10 weeks of launching at International Food and Drink Expo," Townsend told the Jamaica Observer in an e-mailed response.

The International Spirits Challenge is regarded as one of the most authoritative, respected and influential spirits competition in the world, and is now in its 20th year receiving more than 1000 entries from nearly 70 countries.

After much research, Morant Bay Distillery has developed a premium cane spirit infused with botanicals including the flower known as Jamaica rose [sorrel], or rosa de Jamaica giving it its distinctive colour, according to Townsend.

The company is a new entrant into the growing rum sector and is currently the only international producer of Britain's red rum. The rum is made from Jamaican molasses sourced from an estate in Jamaica and then produced using temperature-controlled conditions at a site in the UK, replicating the climate of Jamaica for rum production, distilling, and ageing with the bottling process.

The CEO stated that the UK distillery serves as a hub for the company, as it allows direct access into the European and other markets.

Since the launch of the Signature Edition Spice Red, the product has been receiving a lot of interest from Holland, Canada, the United States and the African region and is about to hit the shelves in Hong Kong with heavy interest aimed at the Asian market.

"We do plan to expand the products into new markets internationally. We are also developing traditional dark and gold rum as well as distributing the only overproof rum manufactured in the UK," he told the Caribbean Business Report.

Townsend has also expanded his product line to include rum and sugar-based cocktails and has teamed with chocolatier Paul Wayne Gregory for the production of Morant Bay chocolate.

"In addition, we have also teamed up with Michelin-trained chef, Jason Howard, who recently presented at the Jamaica Observer Food Awards and introduced the rum dining revolution," Townsend said.

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