Sabrina Gordon, Business Reporter
Red Stripe, sole brewers and bottlers of beer in Jamaica, has inked a deal with the Hussey family-owned Everglades Farms to be the exclusive distributor for Hampden Estate's first-ever bottled rum for the local market.
Hampden Estate, located on a 5,600-acre property in Trelawny, normally produces bulk rum for the European market, but has now ventured into bottling a white overproof rum brand, Rum Fire, to be marketed locally. The product is expected to be available on shelves islandwide by the end of March.
It is the first time that Hampden has produced rum for sale in the local market.
"Hampden has never come out with a local brand, and to get to this market is the premium part of the business," Andrew Hussey, director at Everglades Farms, told Wednesday Business.
In terms of the partnership with Red Stripe, Ruth Hussey, board chair at Everglades Farms, said, "Rum Fire white overproof rum is an exceptionally smooth rum from Hampden Estate, and we wanted to partner with a world-class quality company with the requisite marketing skills, sales penetration and impressive infrastructure to make Rum Fire the consumers' first choice for white overproof."
The agreement calls for Red Stripe to market, sell and distribute the product.
Spokespersons for both Everglades and Red Stripe declined to provide information about the pricing strategy and other details about the deal.
However, Brian Pengelley, sales director at Red Stripe, believes the product will find favour with local consumers.
"The attractive price point, as well as the exceptional drinkability of Rum Fire, will find favour with Jamaican consumers," Pengelley said in a press release.
By entering the rum market, the deal also represents a milestone for Red Stripe, the island's sole beer-producing company.
However, it will not be its first venture into the spirit market since it already distributes a range of spirits on the local market for its parent company, Diageo.
"Rum Fire rum marks a new chapter in Red Stripe's drive to round out its spirits portfolio," said Pengelley.
"White overproof rum has long been a preferred drink by many Jamaicans, but there have always been too few options," said Pengelley.
Rum Fire will compete with other brands on the market, the most popular being Wray and Nephew white overproof rum.
Along with the Long Pond Sugar Factory in Trelawny, Hampden Estate is operated and managed by Everglades Farms.
Hampden Estate, which has existed in Jamaica for close to 300 years, is the only distillery in Jamaica that specialises exclusively in the making of heavy-pot still rums. The estate exports between 400,000 and 500,000 litres of absolute alcohol annually to Europe and, to a smaller extent, South Africa.