The local rum industry received a boost with the recent addition of Barbados’ newest sugar mill, the Harper Sugarcane Mill, located at Groves, St. George.
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Security, Indar Weir, acknowledged “the wisdom inherent in the choice of location”, as the mill neighbours the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC) Ltd. Agriculture Research Department and the West Indies Sugarcane Breeding Station.
He noted: “It was visionary, and should generate substantial economies of proximity… the decision by the West Indies Rum Distillery Limited to partner with the Sugarcane Breeding Station is therefore one that is rooted in historical wisdom and practical know-how. There is no doubt whatsoever that this partnership will result in the manufacture of quality rum varieties based on empirical research, using top-tier varieties of sugar cane.”
Owner of West Indies Rum Distillery Limited, Alexandre Gabriel, told those in attendance that the Harper Mill would produce five to seven tonnes of sugar cane an hour and this would assist – along with the research facility at the West Indies Sugarcane Breeding Station, which has conducted research on over 3,000 varieties of sugar cane – in producing many different variations of its Stade’s branded rum.
Operations Manager and Master Distiller, Don Benn, praised the private/public relationship stating: “It is really about the collaboration we’re having now with the BAMC and avenues through which they can obtain revenue, but also we now have the access to select streams of cane. …We have a variety of stills at the distillery and this basically broadens our product range significantly.”
The Harper Mill was named after Irenaeus Brathwaite Harper, who is credited with recognising that cane could be grown from sugar cane seedlings.