Authentic Caribbean Rum

On the 27th August 2014, I took the early flight to London so I could attend the ACR Training session. ACR (Authentic Caribbean Rum) is a marque under which members of WIRSPA (West Indies Rum & Spirit Producers  Association) can certify their products. But more about that later. The session took place at WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) in London and this particular session was done by ACR Panel member Amit Sood. The session was the last one scheduled to take place in London and turned out to be extremly popular. More than 50 had signed up, but only around half of that managed to get a seat. Amit ensured that those who came in vain, would be guaranteed a seat for an additional Training session to be scheduled soon in London.

From Denmark we where 3 guys who went for the training session, Copenhagen Rum Club owner Daniel and his Head bartender Niels took the trip to London with me. As the agenda below will reveal, there was some info about the ACR Marque and WIRSPA in general, but this turned out to primarily be a tasting session of 18 rum expressions.

Agenda for the Authentic Caribbean Rum "BarTender Certification Programme":

1. Introduction
2. What is Rum?
3. WIRSPA & The ACR Marque
4. The Making of Rum
5. Rum around the World
6. Practical Session
7. Certification

The training kicked off at 11:30 and was scheduled to run until 16:00. Very quickly we came to part 6 on the agenda, the Practical Session which included tasting the 18 expressions. One of the questions that was raised but not answered was: Is it the one expression of rum from a vendor that has earned the right to the ACR Marque or is it the vendor (and all the expressions from this specific vendor). After doing a bit of research online, this is actually not clear to me. I expect that it's the one expression that match the Marque Criteria that are allowed to use the ACR Marque but not other expressions from that particular vendor (please be aware that this has not been confirmed). This question came up because Barbancourt had shipped their 15 year old rum for the training session but its the 5 star which is on ACR website. Also, for St. Nicholas Abbey, the ACR site has the 10 year old, but for the London session, the St. Nicholas white was available (There was half a bottle of St. Nicholas 10 year old, but not as part of the training session). Amit was kind enough to let me taste that expression as I only have tasted the 15 year old and the white before.

Marque Criteria:

  •  Fermented and distilled in a CARIFORUM country.
  • From sugar cane origin
  • Distilled below 96% abv.
  • Flavours are not permitted.
  • Any colour must be derived from wood or from the addition of caramel.
  • Must be bottled at 40% abv. (37.5% where permitted)
  • Where a statement of maturity and/or age is given:
      -It shall be that of the youngest distilled spirit in the product.
      -The rum shall have been matured in wooden vats or barrels for not less than one year.

As Solera rums normally uses an age statement of the oldest rum and not the youngest, Solera rums can not meet the Marque Criteria.

During the tasting of the 18 rums, we had the opportunity to taste rum from Foursquare Distillery (Barbados) that had been aged for 2 years and 5 years to get an understanding about the aging impact on the rum. We also tasted some 2 Column rum and some redistilled rum.  Some molasses was also available for tasting.

The last item on the agenda was the Certification. I must admit that I expected some sort of test, but that was not the case. All attendees received info that a Certificate/Diploma would be available online for download within a few days.

Reflecting back on the training session and what I took away from it, I wish that there where more info on WIRSPA, CARIFORUM and the ACR Marque and less "Tasting session". I understand that all the companies which have a certified rum, wants to show their expression, but after looking into the information thats available online after I came home, I think that info about the CARIFORUM Rum Sector Support (CRSS) Project was missing from the session. I have tried to gather some info, which is shown further down in this article.


The following expressions where part of the Session (listed in tasting order):

Brand: Brugal XV
Origin: Dominican Republic
Vendor: Brugal & Cis Distillery
Proof: 40% abv.
Type: 100% Column still
Based on: Molasses

Brand: Chairman's Reserve
Origin: St. Lucia
Vendor: St. Lucia Distillers
Proof: 40% abv.
Type: 20% Pot still (blend 3 different pots). 80% Column still
Info: Yeast from surface of sugarcane. Age distillate in American new oak casks, blend and recask in ex-bourbon. 6-12 months in new casks. Average of 4 year old rum.

Brand: Barbancourt 15 year
Origin: Haiti
Vendor: Barbancourt Distillery
Proof: 43% abv.
Info: Age in new french Oak Casks. Use VAT's of 5.000-15.000L. Lost 30% of stock in Earthquake

Brand: Barceló Imperial
Origin: Dominican Republic
Vendor: Barceló Export Import CporA
Proof: 38% abv.
Type: 100% Column still

Brand: St. Nicholas Abbey White
Origin: Barbados
Vendor: St. Nicholas Abbey
Proof: 40% abv.
Type: Pot still with Column
Based on: 100% Sugarcane Syrup

Brand: Clark's court old Grog
Origin: Grenada
Vendor: Grenada Distillers
Proof: 40% abv.
Type: 100% Column still
Based on: Molasses

Brand: Captain Bligh XO
Origin: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Vendor: St.Vincent Distillers Ltd.
Proof: 40% abv.
Type: 100% Column still
Based on: Molasses

Brand: Westerhall Vintage
Origin: Grenada
Vendor: Westerhall Estate Ltd.
Proof: 40% abv.
Type: 100% Column still
Based on: Molasses

Brand: Angostura 1919
Origin: Trinidad and Tobago
Vendor: Angostura Ltd.
Proof: 40% abv.
Type: 100% Column still
Based on: Molasses

Brand: Cockspur fine rum
Origin: Barbados
Vendor: Hanschell Inniss
Proof: 37.5% abv.
Type: 100% Column still
Based on: Molasses

Brand: Travellers Five Barrel
Origin: Belize
Vendor: Travellers Liquors Ltd..
Proof: 40% abv.
Type: 100% Column still
Based on: Molasses

Brand: Hampden Gold
Origin: Jamaica
Vendor: J Wray & Nephew Ltd.
Proof: 40% abv.
Type: 100% Pot still
Info: Unaged, Caramel colour

Brand: English Harbour 5 year old
Origin: Antigua
Vendor: Antigua Distillery Ltd.
Proof: 40% abv.
Type: 100% Column still
Based on: Molasses

Brand: Borgoe 8 year Old Grand Reserve
Origin: Suriname (also known as Dutch Guyana)
Vendor: Suriname Alcoholic Beverages
Proof: 40% abv.
Type: Pot/Column still
Based on: Molasses

Brand: El Dorado 15
Origin: Guyana
Vendor: Demerara Distillers Limited
Proof: 43% abv.
Type: Column/Pot still
Based on: Molasses

Brand: Doorly's XO
Origin: Barbados
Vendor: R.L. Seale & Co Ltd.
Proof: 40% abv.
Type: Blend Pot/Column still
Based on: Molasses

Brand: Monymusk Plantation Special Reserve
Origin: Jamaica
Vendor: Worthy Park Estate Ltd. St. Catherine
Proof: 40% abv..
Type: Blend Pot/Column still
Based on: Molasses

Brand: Mount Gay XO
Origin: Barbados
Vendor: Mount Gay
Proof: 43% abv.
Type: Pot still
Based on: Molasses

Additional information which was not mentioned or only partly refereced in the ACR Training session:




The Authentic Rum Marque Campaign is part of a CARIFORUM project financed by the
European Union, and implemented by WIRSPA.

The CARIFORUM Rum Sector Support (CRSS) Project
With funding from the European Union, WIRSPA is implementing on behalf of CARIFORUM the CRSS Project. The overall objective of the project is to build the long-term viability of the CARIFORUM rum sector as a significant source of employment, tax revenues and foreign exchange. A key activity is a limited communications campaign to promote the Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque in European and North American markets and to educate ACP Caribbean producers on the scale, industry structure, consumer and competitive landscape of targeted markets. Additional funding will be required if the Marque is to become a truly international symbol. The project also aims to increase collaboration between producers and exposure to new production and waste treatment techniques & technologies through training, knowledge sharing, benchmarking and the spreading of best practice.

There are sixteen (16) Participating States, namely:
• Antigua and Barbuda
• The Bahamas
• Barbados
• Belize
• Cuba
• Dominica
• Dominican Republic
• Grenada
• Guyana
• Haiti
• Jamaica
• Suriname
• Saint Lucia
• St. Christopher and Nevis
• St. Vincent and the Grenadines
• Suriname
• Trinidad and Tobago

The Group also allows observer status for other Caribbean territories. The following British and Dutch Overseas Territories and Countries (OCTs) have observer status in CARIFORUM:
• Anguilla                 
• Aruba  
• British Virgin Islands
• Cayman Islands 
• Montserrat
• Turks and Caicos Islands
• Netherlands Antilles

The following French Overseas Departments in the Caribbean (DOMs) also have observer status in CARIFORUM:
• French Guiana
• Guadeloupe
• Martinique


(From )


The West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers’ Association Inc. (WIRSPA) is an ‘association of associations’ in that it represents distillers associations from across the ACP Caribbean*. WIRSPA is governed by a Board of Directors which meets several times a year. The Chairmanship rotates and is the subject of an annual election. The current Chairman is Dr. Frank Ward who is from Barbados.

WIRSPA is currently implementing the 2012-2016 CARIFORUM Rum Sector Support project on behalf of the CARIFORUM group of countries, an EU funded project. This project has two main components:
•A marketing and communications campaign for the Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque.
•Promoting technical collaboration, quality and best practice amongst eligible producers as well as supporting and developing the ACR Marque.
*ACP stands for ‘Africa, Caribbean and Pacific’. The ACP Caribbean states are the countries that are signatories of the Lomé Convention signed in 1975. This was superseded by the Cotonou Agreement in June 2000.

WIRSPA is made up of associations from individual Caribbean territories.
•Antigua Rum Producers’ Association
•Asociacion Dominicana De Productores De Ron
•Bahamas Spirits and Beer Manufacturers Association
•Barbados Rum Committee
•Distillers and Rum Producers of Guyana
•Jamaica Rum & Spirits Trade Association
•St Lucia Rum Producers’ Association
•Suriname Rum Producers’ Foundation
•Trinidad Rum Exporters’ Advisory Committee

Associate members:
•Belize Rum Producers’ Association
•Grenada Rum & Spirits Producers’ Association
•Haitian Rum Producers’ Association
•St Vincent Rum Association

In 2010, WIRSPA completed the implementation of a major EU funded project to modernise and revitalise the rum industry in the ACP Caribbean. This was the first time that a private sector organisation had been given the responsibility for managing such a large EU funded Programme.

The Programme provided co-financing for upgrading projects, technical expertise and specialised services to the ACP Caribbean rum sector and has stimulated investment of some €108 million by individual producers, of which around €40 million was co-financed by the EU, with producers putting up the remainder.

The objective of the Programme was to support:
•the upgrading and modernisation of rum production
•the improvement of waste management and environmental protection
•the technical and Management training
•the marketing and distribution of value-added rums
•the creation of a Caribbean Rum Marque
•the strengthening and deepening of the industry association

Total funding provided by the EU was €58 million with co-funding of €65 million from the sector to include support for the investments outlined above, expansion of the industry association, development of an identifying ‘marque’ for products from the region and a marketing campaign to support it.

The Rum industry has made significant investments over the last decade with the support of the EU. Under the previous programme, a grant fund was made available on a cost sharing basis in several investment areas - production upgrades, waste treatment, environmental management, distribution & marketing and business development services. Grants were provided to companies on a ‘reimbursable’ basis i.e. the company would present a plan and secure agreement to a project; finance and implement the project; then reclaim the agreed co-funded element, which averaged about 37%.

Production Upgrades
A total of 179 projects were approved in this area. Projects undertaken include:
New distilleries; fermenters; distillation units; bottling lines; production facilities; ageing and blending facilities; water treatment; molasses storage; system automation; IT systems upgrade – finance, supply chain; upgrading of laboratory and testing facilities.

Waste Treatment and Environmental Management
A total of 31 projects were approved in this area. Projects undertaken include:
Feasibility and pilot studies to determine and test disposal methods and environmental impact. Upgrading and installation of new systems to meet environmental standards and international best practice such as biomethanisation; treatment ponds and ferti-irrigation; marine outfalls; CO2 capture; energy saving projects such as co-generation from bagasse, recycling of waste oils and energy conservation actions.

Distribution & Marketing
A total of 91 projects were approved in this area. Projects undertaken include:
New product development and testing; market research; identification of distributors; trade and consumer brand building promotions.

Business Development
A total of 61 projects were approved in this area. Projects undertaken include:
Development of business plans; quality training and certification; technical and supervisor training, research (production & marketing); feasibility studies and technical consultancies


(From )

The ACP Group
The African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) is an organisation created by the Georgetown Agreement in 1975. It is composed of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific states, with all of them, save Cuba, signatories to the Cotonou Agreement, also known as the "ACP-EC Partnership Agreement" which binds them to the European Union. There are 48 countries from Sub-Saharan Africa, 16 from the Caribbean and 15 from the Pacific.


Info about the ACR Marque Label:

For packaging a Three Tiered system was developed. The 3 different labels are:
1. Authentic Caribbean Rum
2. 'Matured' Authentic Caribbean Rum
3. 'Deluxe' Authentic Caribbean Rum

The criteria for the three Tiers are:

1. In order to qualify at this level, products must be produced from sugar cane juice or molasses within the ACP Caribbean region. Products in this classification must achieve accepted industry standards of product quality and may be a blend of different rums to produce the desired characteristics. Products at this level would be permitted to display a black and white version of the marque.

2. A silver and black version of the marque is available for use on products that achieve the standard level but have also been 100% matured for a minimum of one year. These products may be blended with much older rums in order to produce products of depth, complexity and character. This classification bears the word ‘Matured’ and displays three barrels.

3. A gold and black ‘Deluxe’ classification may be used on products that have been 100% matured for a minimum of 5 years. Products in this category reflect the true artistry of the master blender in each company. Products are likely to be blended from a wide palette of aged rums in differing styles. Many will be older but all will be aged for a minimum of 5 years. This classification bears the word ‘Deluxe’ and displays five barrels

2019  Copyright   DRECON