Saint Lucian rum was the big attraction at a rum tasting event held by the country's embassy in Taipei on Thursday, which attracted around 50 representatives from Taiwanese businesses.
As one of the oldest industries in Saint Lucia, rum has a long history on the Caribbean island nation. Saint Lucia has been producing rum for hundreds of years ever since Europeans settled in the Caribbean and planted sugarcane, Saint Lucia Ambassador Edwin Laurent told CNA.
The rum tasting event attracted about 50 people, mostly Taiwanese representatives from hotels, restaurants, and bars, and a few international dignitaries who sampled rum paired with cocktail-style finger food. Among the several brands at the event, the main one was Chairman's Reserve rums produced by Saint Lucia Distillers Group of Companies.
"Taiwanese generally seem to have good taste when it comes to spirits and we have a high-quality product, and when we let people sample it, we find that they love it," said Laurent. "It's a large market for us, it's 23 million people, so we know if we could establish this sort of business, it would be valuable."
In addition to business, exporting Saint Lucian rum to the country is also a part of building friendship and relations with Taiwan, he said. "Because to build friendship, it is good if you could do business at the same time," Laurent said.
Even though in the 1950s through to the 1960s, Saint Lucia transitioned from mainly producing sugar to bananas, rum production did not stop as the country began importing molasses from other countries, said Margaret Monplaisir, CEO of Saint Lucia Distillers Group of Companies, in a recorded video.
"A practice which still continues until this day, except that the boat shipments have become much larger over the years," Monplaisir said.
One of the Taiwanese business representatives at the event, Andrew Kuo (???), brand supervisor at alcoholic drink distributor Importer Co., Ltd., told CNA that he had sold 700-800 bottles of rum from Saint Lucia in two years.
He distributes the bottles mainly to bars and cigar bars, with a limited amount to bottle shops, Kuo said.
"Not many people in Taiwan drink rum straight as they still prefer to mix it in cocktails, but we have seen changes and growth in the past few years," Kuo said.
One of Taiwan's 15 diplomatic allies, Saint Lucia and Taiwan have conducted US$431,558 worth of trade so far this year as of the end of November, according to Taiwan's Bureau of Foreign Trade.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel