Following a devastating fire in 2018, Long Pond Distillers Limited has officially reopened to full production.
The company, a subsidiary of National Rums of Jamaica (NRJ), opened its doors last Friday to guests for a rare viewing of its famous rum process while publicly declaring its commitment to the future of Jamaican Rum.
The distillery released its second-ever bottled rum expression, The Long Pond VRW 2003, during the recent reopening ceremony as the first signal of the company’s commitment.
Director of NRJ, Alexandre Gabriel, spoke in detail at the ribbon-cutting ceremony about rebuilding Long Pond’s fermentation house after the fire.
According to him, the priority in rebuilding was to preserve the heritage that had catapulted the distillery to fame over the last two centuries. They rebuilt with similar oak vats that existed there for centuries instead of installing modern stainless steel so that the quality of the Long Pond Rum and its international reputation could be preserved.
Chief Executive Officer of NRJ, Martha Miller (L) and NRJ Director, Alexandre Gabriel discuss the Long Pond VRW 2003 with Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
The Frenchman, also the owner of global cognac company Maison Ferrand, shared with guests a story of his youth in France, tending his vineyard for future generations.
He said, “So we are here, and yes, we are shareholders [of Long Pond], but I think we’re just tending this distillery for the years to come.”
In addition, Gabriel said that the distillery, one of the oldest rum producers and exporters in Jamaica, intends to increase its capacity by 20 per cent, therefore extending employment opportunities. He compared the possibilities for the Jamaican and Caribbean rum industry to the past ambitions of his hometown Cognac region, which now generates more than 3 Billion Euros in exports for France.
According to him, the endeavour took 150 years, commitment to the community, and pulling together for investments. As for the Jamaican industry, he declared that “… 150 years starts today.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman of NRJ Komal Samaroo lauded the performance of the distillery in the past and lamented the issues still facing the Caribbean rum industry.
In pointing out the decline in the sugar industry, he said, “…the result is that a significant portion of our molasses used in the region for our rum production is imported.”
Samaroo declared that despite those issues that could call into question the competitiveness of the regional industry, the Caribbean and Jamaican Rum continue to play an essential role in the economy and deserves even more commitment and investment from stakeholders such as Long Pond and NRJ
He continued, “It is my belief that there are opportunities to continue the growth trend for rum by emphasising the diversity of styles of rum produced in the region as we premiumise our brands.”
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who was also in attendance as the keynote speaker, congratulated NRJ for rebuilding and investments in the industry and the Jamaican people.