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Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, wants more Barbadians to recognise local rum as a first class product instead of seeing it as second to imported spirits.

In fact, the Minister is calling on Barbadians to ???feel proud of the high quality rum we produce and make it the spirit of choice for those who sell and those who consume such spirits???. He also added it was imperative that local bars, restaurants and shops should all make the promotion of local rums and rum based products a priority.

Mr. Inniss threw out this challenge last night at the Mount Gay Visitors Centre for the company???s 311th Anniversary and official unveiling of one of the over 200 year-old rums purchased by Mount Gay Distilleries recently In Britain.

Noting he was in favour of responsible behaviour and moderation in personal drink consumption, the Minister pointed out his Ministry was ???seriously pushing this agenda??? as reflected in the recent Rums of Barbados programme which was coordinated by the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, the Rum Producers??? Association, Acute Vision and the Rum Shops of Barbados group, among others.

He lamented the increase of almost $4 million in the importation of spirits last year and stressed that Barbados was home to many national brands that are considered some of the world???s finest rums.

???In 2013 Barbados imported $19.7 million in spirits, liqueurs and other alcohol based products. This was up from $15.8 million in 2012. [And] honestly, I would like to see that number decreased for it would mean saving on foreign exchange and other benefits.

???Our island has established an unprecedented heritage by shaping the global history and evolution of rum. We have the history, the heritage, the global awards and accolades. Now we must firmly establish the value of rum as an integral part of Barbados??? heritage,??? he declared.

Using the example that Scotland was known for its whiskey, France for champagne and cognac, and Jamaica for its Blue Mountain Coffee, Mr. Inniss stated it was time for Barbados to take ownership as the home of rum.????????We cannot expect the world to recognise and celebrate with us as the home of rum, if here at home we do not give it pride of place. Home drums must beat first,??? Mr. Inniss underscored.

Managing Director of Mount Gay Distilleries, Raphael Grisoni revealed that after remaining undisturbed for well over two centuries in a British cellar, three bottles from a cache of the world???s oldest rum are being returned home to Barbados.

He said Mount Gay Distilleries Ltd., officially the world???s oldest rum distiller, successfully purchased the bottles of historic Barbados rum which date back to 1780, when a total of 12 bottles were auctioned last December by Christies in London.????????As soon as they became aware of the discovery, the company felt it was incumbent upon Mount Gay ??? as Barbados??? and the world???s oldest distillery of record – to make absolutely certain that at least some of the rum, an original product of Barbados, was brought back to its ancestral home,??? he said.

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