A GI for Barbados Rum

I awoke this morning to more informative text from Richard Seale regarding the Barbados GI. I had previously posted regarding the Barbados GI here. Below in full is the information that I awoke to this morning addressing key points and presenting the agreed position of Mount Gay, St Nicholas Abbey and Foursquare.

A GI for Barbados Rum

A GI is intended to:

– protect the name of Barbados Rum in export markets by having the standards applied at home recognised in those markets.
– codify those standards so that they will be maintained to protect the reputation of Barbados Rum
– link the essential characteristics of Barbados Rum to its geographical origin.

The latter sometimes causes confusion. There are two types of GI – A PDO like AOC Martinique Agricole which absolutely requires the sugar cane grown in Martinique or a PGI like Scotch Whisky which allows imported grain but demands other ties to the geography e.g. water and climate of aging.

The geographical link also provides the economic motive behind establishing a GI – to ensure the economic return from a product is earned within the region.

Attached is the unified position of Mount Gay, St Nicholas Abbey and Foursquare. We have worked carefully together and given our inputs to the local authority. Not everything here is in latest draft but we are confident in our work being recognised. It has been a joy to work with the team from Mount Gay and Larry from St Nicholas Abbey.

Also attached are the relevant clauses from the EU regulations. This shows that it is an indispensable requirement of registration that essential characteristics of the product be derived from its geographical origin.

I think it is unfortunate (and disrespectful of the local authorities) that the draft GI has been subjected to criticism in front of foreign audiences. Once you understand the position of MG/SNA/FS in the context of the meaning of a GI and its registration requirements, you will see the criticism is disingenuous, misleading and self-serving.

YEAST
Yeast is not restricted to Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. The exogenous ADDITION is restricted to Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. Not that this is much of a restriction – 99%+ of all wines and spirits out there are made from the thousands of available strains of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. All native yeasts are in fact allowed. This includes several species besides Saccharomyces Cerevisiae.

It is important to understand the history behind this. Until the modern era, all rum fermentations proceeded exclusively from native yeasts. The addition of exogenous yeast brought efficiency and flavour control at the expense of aromatic diversity. That horse has bolted, added yeast is here to stay. But restricting non Saccharomyces yeast to native yeasts we are preserving a link to our geography and to our history.

WATER
It is imperative in order to maintain the link between Barbados Rum and its Geography that water is restricted to Barbados Water. It is also easy to understand if you know our history. Barbados was able to dominate early sugar and rum making because of our access to water compared to our volcanic neighbours. I have attached a perspective from Mount Gay on the issue.

STILLS
There is no restriction on stills in the Barbados GI. All batch and continuous stills are allowed. Distillation proof is restricted to 95% abv and copper must be used. *(Note the chamber still referred to in the counter arguments. Batch and Continuous is the language used, not Pot and Column)*RDB

SUGAR
Sugar is not added by any Barbados blender. No indigenous brand uses addition of sugar. In fact in a world of sweetened rum, indigenous Barbados Rums stand out for not using sugar syrup. A GI must reflect that. Adding sugar to Barbados rum weakens the diversity of rum.

CARAMEL
Caramel (e150a) has been used in Barbados rum for as long as anyone knows. It was not used to deceive people. Most Barbados Rum was sold unaged – “white rum” or “coloured rum” at the same price. So the GI allows caramel but with some constraints to avoid abuse.

AGING
Aging provides arguably the most essential characteristic of Barbados Rum in export markets. It would be ludicrous to CERTIFY a rum as Barbados Rum where one of the most influential stages of production takes place outside of Barbados. It is also the stage where the most of the value is added. It would be equally ludicrous to CERTIFY a product as from Barbados where most of the value is earned outside of Barbados.

OAK
This is more about protecting the reputation than geography. Until now the reputation of aged Barbados Rum has been derived from aging solely in oak. A GI is about protecting reputation not leaving it to the mercy of experiments. Our position has been cleverly crafted. We can venture outside of oak when it is proven. To simply allow “wooden casks” is unacceptable. The myriad of possibilities from oak is almost limitless. In practical terms this is no restriction at all.

A GI which allows a purported ‘Barbados Rum’ be made from imported molasses, non native yeasts, non native water and aged in another country is a farce and would never meet the requirements of registration.

It should be well noted that a GI does not prevent non compliant Rum being made in Barbados. Article 14 (attached) contemplates that in the modern era stages of production may take place in different regions. A rum distilled in Barbados that meets the basic EU standard is still legal to sell as rum. And if it is aged in France and has special sugar syrup (made with French know-how) added, it is no longer a certified Barbados Rum but it is entirely legal and appropriate if it is called French Rum.

Every distiller wants to make the best they can but when the inputs are no longer Barbados inputs (or Barbados traditions) – it moves from away from being a Barbados Rum to being a Rum.

This is a “restriction” that holds no fear for a Barbados born distiller or blender.

The Unified Position of Mount Gay, St Nicholas Abbey and Foursquare Rum Distillery

Clauses from the EU regulations demonstrating that it is an indispensable requirement of registration that essential characteristics of the product be derived from its geographical origin

Counter Argument Criticism of the GI Proposals

Information Presented by Mount Gay

Article 14 contemplates that in the modern era, stages of production may take place in different regions

All eyes are on the progression of this fundamental and vital weapon in the arsenal of the Barbadian producers to protect their heritage.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

The Paulsen Collection Foursquare Vintage 1998

We’re back into it with another Foursquare. Some bottle hunters are seeking the ‘unicorn’ Exceptional Cask Release I, more commonly known as Foursquare 1998. Bottles are rare with Gayle Seale herself having to pick them up from property auctions in Barbados. They do exist in the wild but sightings are rare and can be very expensive. So what we have here in this Paulsen Collection bottling is that very same ‘unicorn’, but perhaps without the rainbow mane and golden horn…..maybe just dressed as a regular old horse. It was available until recently quite readily and I believe it may still be available in Europe. I gained a bottle a while back as a present from my wife, I then subsequently picked up another 2 bottles from Richard Blesgraaf over in Holland. Less than 50 Euros per bottle I think.

Now you will be fully aware reading these pages that I enjoy Foursquare Rums, a quick click here will link to quite a few articles on their products to get your juices flowing about the place. Anyhow, let’s get into it.

The Paulsen Collection Foursquare Vintage 1998 – 40% abv – Traditional Rum

This Rum is, amazingly, the product of only the Coffey Column Still at Foursquare Distillery. Distilled in 1998, this Rum was matured in ex-bourbon barrels for around 8 years. It was then decanted, reduced to around bottling strength and then re-barreled for an additional 2 years of maturation totaling a minimum of 10 years tropical maturation. Presented an a heavy based square edged glass bottle with a cork closure and wax seal on the label it certainly looks the part….if that kind of thing matters to you.

Coffey Column Still at Foursquare Distillery

Tasting Notes

Nose: Classic Foursquare profile on the nose…..Vanilla, butterscotch and a beautiful marshmallow note. Peppery and well-integrated oak lays down a solid foundation for the sweeter notes to play off. A touch of dried fruit and powdery cocoa appear given time. Relatively simple and straightforward nose to this Rum, but quite enjoyable.

Mouth: Lightly sweet and far more complex on the palate. Initial vanilla and cocoa give way to a drying and quite punchy oak that scatterguns fresh fruity peppercorns and charred, spicy barrel notes. A little banana chip and dried coconut sits alongside cocoa nibs and fresh, zingy ginger juice. A medium length finish carries the oak, vanilla and cocoa into those familiar peach vapours at the back of the throat.

You sometimes have to remind yourself that this is the product of the Coffey Column still only…..nothing from their pot still. Whilst it lacks a bit of heft on the palate, I can think of no better rum to adequately display just how effective the creation of Aeneas Coffey is when in the right hands. I was going to conclude this review by saying that this Rum was very much of its time, and it’s amazing to see how far things have moved on since it’s release in 2008. Not just in the Rum world in general but in the output and confidence of Foursquare Distillery. But the truth is, released today, maybe at the island abv of 43%, it’d fly off the shelves. It’s like a more mature Old Brigand, proper enjoyable, even if it’s not the most complex offering. Column Still Rum never tasted so good.

4 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bristol Classic Fine Barbados Rum – Foursquare 2004

This is as you’d expect, a follow-up to my recent review of the Bristol Classic Fine Barbados Rum – Foursquare 2003.

If you are unaware, Bristol Classic Rum is a company headed up by Managing Director John Barrett and they are based in, you guessed it…..Bristol. John Barrett says that Bristol Classic Rum:

“Seek out small quantities, sometimes only single barrels from a single distillery, or a single estate or even a single still to show rum in its true un-blended form. Aging at the Distillery, or here in the United Kingdom is so important to the rums development, this combined with careful bottling and a minimum of filtration allows the characteristics of each individual rum to show. Enjoy with your favourite mixer, in exciting cocktails, or at its best just over ice!”

Foursquare Distillery you will already know about but some information on other releases can be found here, or you can do a site wide search.

Bristol Classic Fine Barbados Rum – Foursquare 2004 – 43% abv – Single Blended Rum

This Rum was distilled at Foursquare Distillery in 2004 and bottled in 2013 at 43% abv. It would most likely be the result of a minimum maturation period in Barbados, of around 3 years which is the Foursquare way, with the remainder of its 9 year maturation period spent at the Bristol Spirits facility in the more temperate UK climate. It is a single blended rum, a blend of both batch and continuous distillates from the Foursquare Distillery. It saw maturation in the standard american oak ex-bourbon barrels. No bottle quantity information is available.

Again, this is bottle number two of this Rum for me, so taken was I with this and the 2003 upon release. I paid around £40.

Tasting Notes

Nose: A classic Foursquare nose. Heavily influenced by the oak it has classic bourbon spice. Maybe a nip of young (ish) alcohol. Light vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. A bag of mixed dried fruit sits alongside warm rice pudding. Toasted coconut alongside Snowballs….marshmallow coated in milk chocolate coated in desiccated coconut. A touch of citrus oil. Warming oak sits in the background carrying everything. Perhaps a little nutty too.

Mouth: A beautifully balanced entry with nuts and oak up front. The peppery oak announces itself straight away with warmth and a real bite. This develops into peanuts and chocolate….Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Mild dried fruit sweetness punches through and brings candied citrus peels. Vanilla. Coconut coated in milk chocolate. The mid palate starts with the nuttiness and leads into a drying bourbon oak. This becomes a theme into the finish which is all nuts, milk chocolate and coconut. Warming medium length finish.

It’s a good, solid Rum and is very typical of what you’d expect to find in a ‘standard’ Foursquare release…..well integrated oak and a classic Barbados, or more to the point, classic Foursquare profile…albeit with a little less intensity given its continental heavy maturation. It is a great all round performer that, similar to the 2003, is of its time. Surpassed by the exceptional cask releases of late, and currently for sale in its 12 year form for £75, it is easily outgunned for similar money, or even less by these distillery bottlings with true tropical maturation. However, it’s still a really solid and enjoyable rum. As an aside, if I could have this Rum, with more of the nose of the 2003, I’d be even happier.

4 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bristol Classic Fine Barbados Rum – Foursquare 2003

This could be the first Bristol bottling that I have featured on the site which is quite amazing given my love of the their 1986 Rockley Still release. Anyhow, Bristol Classic Rum is a company headed up by Managing Director John Barrett and they are based in, you guessed it…..Bristol. John Barrett says that Bristol Classic Rum:

“Seek out small quantities, sometimes only single barrels from a single distillery, or a single estate or even a single still to show rum in its true un-blended form. Aging at the Distillery, or here in the United Kingdom is so important to the rums development, this combined with careful bottling and a minimum of filtration allows the characteristics of each individual rum to show. Enjoy with your favourite mixer, in exciting cocktails, or at its best just over ice!”

They have been responsible for some very good and quite landmark releases over the years, their 1990 Port Mourant and the aforementioned 1986 Rockley Still to name but two. This one however hails from one of my favourite places, Foursquare Rum Distillery in Barbados….not Four Square as the label states….an unfortunate issue that plagues quite a few independent bottlers.

Bristol Classic Fine Barbados Rum – Foursquare 2003 – 43% abv – Single Blended Rum

Distilled at Foursquare Distillery in 2003 and bottled in 2012, this Rum would likely be the result of a minimum maturation period in Barbados, probably 3 years, with the remainder at the Bristol Spirits facility in the more temperate UK climate. It is a single blended rum, a blend of both batch and continuous distillates from the Foursquare Distillery. It saw 9 years maturation in the standard american oak ex-bourbon barrels. Bottled at what seems to be the ‘island abv’ of 43%. No bottle quantity information is available but I would assume that it is a blend of multiple casks from the same year.

Tasting Notes

 

Nose: Very astringent from the get go. Really bright fruitiness. Pear drops. Superglue. Varnish. This opening then delivers a mass of tropical fruit by the basket. Bananas. Ripe mango. Star fruit. Guava. I’m going to say that the initial opening in this one would have you convinced that it was a light fruity Jamaican, it has a touch of the continentally aged Long Pond fruitiness. Maybe this 2003 is quite pot still laden in the blend? It certainly feels like the blend is solid and composed of very very good distillates. The oak influence does not show itself, instead there is a biscuity aroma. Hob-Nob biscuits coated in milk chocolate. Time brings buttery puff pastry and creme patissiere. The oak continues to be a no-show on the nose of this one and instead there is a return of the beautiful underlying sweetness that brings overripe bananas and a hint of peach. Crisp apples. Toasted marshmallow and a touch of candyfloss.

Mouth: Beautifully sweet entry. The fruit carries through on the palate from the nose.  Initially light, but then the assertiveness of the fruit shows bringing a freshness and less of a sweetness. A light touch of black pepper precedes intense vanilla and creme brûlée. Buttery pastry and a warming fresh ginger with pepper on the mid palate. There is decidedly less wood influence than I would’ve expected….it is there given the drying nature of the rum, but the mouthfeel, whilst intense is devoid of those heavier oaken notes that usually appear in continentally matured Foursquare. The finish is initially full of intense fruit, vanilla and black pepper but this soon fades to a slightly dry croissant. The finish is quite short, a lot shorter than expected anyway, but the fruit remains in dialled down form with a hint of those peach vapours at the back-end. Salty Liquorice rounds things out.

A very very beautiful nose let down a little by a surprisingly below-par finish. I would love to try this blend with tropical age as I have no doubt that it’s the maturation location that has betrayed this Rum. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a very good Rum and it deserves your attention and money, but it is perhaps suffering from being surrounded by such great Rum from the same distillery. I will say however that it has one of the most vibrant and fruity noses that I’ve ever experienced in a Foursquare Rum.

3.5 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

The Barbados GI & Why It Will NOT Threaten Diversity & Innovation

There has been talk within Rum circles and Facebook Forums about the proposed Barbados and recently completed Jamaican GI, and how there are concerns that this may stifle innovation and quell diversity. The following is the ‘as written’ response to this fallacy by Richard Seale which he has kindly agreed to allow me to publish in its entirety….and it is the best thing that you’ll read on the subject. Enjoy.

THE PROTECTION OF BARBADOS RUM

As Jamaica has completed their Geographical Indication for “Jamaican Rum” and Barbados moves to completion of their GI, it becomes increasingly important to dispel the canards around this important process.

With rum we have many canards – rum has no rules – rum is diverse and varied because of this wonderful lack of rules. Unlike other spirits, we are told Rum has no “global rules”. And that there are efforts to have a global rule which will crush our diversity.

See my takedown of this here – https://cocktailwonk.com/2017/08/richard-seales-epic-takedown-rum-no-rules.html

A recent canard is that a GI (a registered intellectual property) is a further threat to this diversity and a threat to “innovation”.

The irony of this situation is that a GI seeks to preserve and protect this diversity. It is the essential tool by which this is accomplished. And the dreaded fear of selling rum under one “unified” rule is EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS NOW AND IS PRECISELY WHAT A GI WILL SOLVE.

If Caribbean producers sell rum into the US, it is not the standards of identity (“the rules”) of Jamaica, Martinique or Barbados that apply. It is the rules of the United States TTB that apply. That is right, despite being from three very different and diverse rum producing countries, they will be sold in the US under the same ONE rule. This means that although AGAINST THE LAW OF JAMAICA to add anything to rum besides caramel a Jamaica Rum can be sold in the US with added flavours including sugar (and labeled as Jamaican Rum) because the generic rule for Rum sold in the US allows blenders to be added to any rum.

But the situation is very different for the spirits produced by developed countries. The United States TTB will enforce the rules of Scotland for a Scotch Whisky sold in the US. The United States TTB will enforce the rules of Cognac for a Cognac sold in the US. The US will not protect a Jamaican Rum or a Barbadian Rum from adulteration in the US. The US does not control the use of the word ‘Agricole’ in the US market leading to all sorts of hideous products, not remotely consistent with the standards of ‘Agricole’ being legally labeled as Agricole

Now the US does not directly recognise GIs so creating a GI alone will not be enough to solve this issue in the US but the US illustrates the challenge of protecting our diversity very well and the GI will be the necessary first step.

The same situation applies in the EU save for the fact that the EU does recognise some GIs at this point (for example the word Agricole is protected) and it is hoped that they will recognise the GIs of Jamaican and Barbados in due course. At the moment, a Jamaica Rum and a Barbados Rum are sold in the EU under one and the same EU rule. If the EU recognises our individual GIs, it means that a Barbados Rum sold in the EU will need to meet “Barbados Rules” and a Jamaica Rum will need to meet “Jamaica Rules”. That diversity everyone wants will be protected – that dreaded ‘global rule’ for rum, avoided.

Because the EU recognises the GI for Scotch Whisky, the additional requirements to meet the standards of identity for Scotch Whisky over the EU generic standard for whisky are recognised and the label “Scotch Whisky” is protected throughout the EU. The GI for Jamaica Rum and the draft GI for Barbados pose additional requirements, over and above the generic EU definition of Rum (the “one” rule) to protect and preserve the characteristic identity of these rums. The GI is the tool by which we will protect our diversity. The GI is the tool by which we avoid having to produce under one “global rule”.

What of the claim that a GI stifles innovation?

Lets be clear as to what exactly is innovation. Marketing gimmicks that do not add value are not innovations. Changing the elements of repute in a Jamaica Rum or a Barbados Rum is not innovation. A GI is not a legal restraint on a producer. All producers continue to operate under the existing laws. A GI is a piece of intellectual property protecting how a type of “trademark” can be used – it places no law whatsoever on production. It constrains no one from producing as they please. It constrains them from labeling as they please. A Jamaican musician can play any tune just do not expect it to be called reggae unless it sounds like reggae.

So what are these innovation stifling constraints in the Barbados and Jamaica GIs:

– Barbadian trained operators

– fermented and distilled in Barbados/Jamaica

– Saccharomyces types only for yeast

– local water source only

– free of additives except caramel which must only be used for colour (Barbados draft GI has a quantitative albeit generous limit on caramel) – the same restriction in Scotch

– minimum ester levels for Jamaica rum (by marque)

– aged in oak (“small” is the Jamaica requirement, 700 litres maximum for Barbados)

– aged entirely in Jamaica (a min of two years in Barbados).

– Jamaica rum must pass an organoleptic test

I will address the wisdom of “restricting to oak” in another post, save to say that is hardly onerous and Scotch Whisky has the same “restriction”. There is a plethora of excellent oak casks available for “innovation”. One obvious point is that it keeps a point of difference between rum and cachaca and preserves an important distinction in our social and economic history.

Aging is Europe is a product of the colonial way of doing business where only limited value was earned in the colonies and product whether it be sugar, rum or bauxite was to be shipped at the lowest commodity value. Bulk brown sugar would leave the Caribbean in the ship’s hold but arrive on the supermarket shelf as branded granulated sugar. Bulk molasses sold as branded ‘treacle” once on the shelf.

The advent of continental aging therefore had nothing whatsoever to do with product quality and it is absurd as ageing Scotch Whisky in southern Spain. It simply steals value from the local producers leaving rich European brands and decrepit local operations. The Barbados GI arguably does not go far enough. Bravo to Jamaica – this “restraint” is worth millions in forex earnings. A greater share of what you pay for that bottle of rum ends up in the Caribbean with “restraints” like this.

Conforming Rums must (may?) use the words “certified Geographical Indication” on all documents including labels. Non conforming rums can be made but they will not be able to simply state “Jamaican Rum” or “Barbados Rum” and most importantly – “the use of any indication or sign which may cause a buyer to believe that a rum has the right to use the protected Geographical Indication “Jamaica Rum”, although it does not satisfy all the conditions defined in the present decree will be prosecuted”.

You cannot sell your product under another’s brand because of trademark law and you cannot sell your product under another’s protected origin because of intellectual property law. You add something to Jamaica Rum – it is no longer Jamaican Rum – that is the law of the land of Jamaica. A recognised Jamaican GI means you cannot avoid Jamaican law by selling in Europe. No more selling pure rum as “dry style rum” and sweetened rum as “rum”. In Jamaica and Barbados, rum without added sweetener is just known as rum. I have never in my life heard any Jamaican or Barbadian call it “dry style” rum. Would I dare go to Scotland and call all whiskies “dry style”? Who am I to dictate that.

So you can continue to flavour Jamaica Rum you just cannot label it in a way that may cause confusion to the buyer that they have purchased certified Jamaica Rum. The diversity and identity, created by Jamaicans, will now be protected.

Europeans created the concept of protected origins and it is used extensively by developed countries to develop and protect the intrinsic value of their products in export markets. Our time is now.

We and fellow Barbadian owned producer St Nicholas Abbey are on the record as supporting the Barbados GI as drafted.

The EU generic rule for Rum for which all Rums need to comply

The generic US TTB rule for Rum for which all Rums irrespective of origin need to comply

The US recognises and applies different rules for different types of Whisky. No such recognition for Rum – so a Rum labeled Agricole in the US need not even be from fresh juice

The US TTB will enforce the rules of different origins for different spirits but not for Rum. Even Canadian Whisky is protected.

A GI is a form of Intellectual Property – it is not a law constraining how Rum can be made

The EU will recognise GIs – they must then comply with the rules they submit through their technical file

The EU will protect a registered GI. Scotch is a GI and so Scotch sold in the EU must match the rules in the Scotch technical file, it is not enough to conform to the generic EU rule for whisky

The EU does protect some GIs for Rum. We hope to add Barbados and Jamaica to this list

An example of Cognac applying to New Zealand to say protect our origin. We need to do the same for Rum and the GI is the first step. Diversity can then be protected.

The Scotch Whisky technical file details the difference between the rules of Scotch and the generic whisky rule of the EU. They add further detail to this page.

To gain a recognised GI in the EU, a technical file must be submitted.

Jamaica has an organoleptic test requirement for its GI

I personally find it hard to understand why anyone that has an interest in the future and protection of the Rums and the people of Barbados would ever not think that the Barbados GI is an essential thing.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.