St Lu­cia Dis­tillers Up­grades Bar­rel Cooper­age

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

An ini­tia­tive that is part of a CARIFORUM project funded by the Euro­pean Union within the con­text of their sup­port for the Caribbean Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship Agree­ment and im­ple­mented by the West Indies Rum & Spir­its Pro­duc­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (WIRSPA), pro­vided a train­ing work­shop for re­gional dis­tillers.

This train­ing work­shop is aimed at up­grad­ing abil­ity of pro­duc­ers to main­tain their stock of rum age­ing bar­rels. It un­der­scored main­te­nance of age old tra­di­tions and com­mit­ment to pro­duc­ing pre­mium qual­ity Au­then­tic Caribbean Rums.

Coop­ers from sev­eral smaller Caribbean dis­til­leries re­cently spent an in­ten­sive week’s train­ing at An­gos­tura Dis­tillery in Trinidad learn­ing to re­pair and main­tain the wooden bar­rels in which rum is placed to age and ma­ture.

Pre­mium Au­then­tic Caribbean Rums are aged in oak bar­rels and keep­ing them leak free is a chal­lenge. This is where Coop­ers come into the pic­ture – us­ing age old tech­niques passed down over the years, Coop­ers use their skills and mostly hand tools to keep bar­rels of age­ing rum from leak­ing away.

The train­ing ses­sion was an ini­tia­tive of the West Indies Rum & Spir­its Pro­duc­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with An­gos­tura. It is one of many knowl­edge ex­change ac­tiv­i­ties funded through the CARIFORUM project. The project is aimed at strength­en­ing the in­dus­try so as to bet­ter en­able it to com­pete in in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.

“Age­ing of our rums in wooden bar­rels is a core part of pro­duc­ing our qual­ity Au­then­tic Caribbean Rums”, says Frank Ward, Chair­man of WIRSPA. “At the same time, it is an ex­pen­sive process as we lose sig­nif­i­cant amounts each year to evap­o­ra­tion and some­times leak­age. This ini­tia­tive will pro­vide prac­ti­cal train­ing to the smaller dis­til­leries in the WIRSPA fam­ily on how to re­duce th­ese losses and ex­tend the life of their bar­rel stock. It’s in the bar­rel that our unique flavours de­velop and our Coop­ers have an im­mense re­spon­si­bil­ity in mak­ing this hap­pen.”

The work­shop was pre­ceded by a WIRSPA we­bi­nar held with John Niehoff of Brown For­man Cor­po­ra­tion, the largest sup­plier of oak bar­rels to the spir­its in­dus­try and ad­dressed the cur­rent state of the mar­ket for bar­rels and best prac­tice in bar­rel man­age­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Mar­garet Mon­plaisir, MD of St Lu­cia Dis­tillers which took part in the train­ing ex­er­cise, “we do have an ex­ten­sive in­ven­tory of rum age­ing at any one time, mak­ing sure those bar­rels are in good con­di­tion is re­ally im­por­tant if we want to keep our prod­uct top qual­ity. We’re in­debted to WIRSPA and An­gos­tura, and of course the EU, for mak­ing this hap­pen.”

Par­tic­i­pants from dis­tillers across the Caribbean at a

work­shop in Trinidad.

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