Hampden’s Harris to educate Jamaicans about rum

Business

Hampden’s Harris to educate Jamaicans about rum

BY HG HELPS
Editor-at-Large
helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, February 28, 2020

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NEW YORK, USA — When the second edition of the Jamaica Rum Festival is held at Hope Gardens, St Andrew, educating people about the spirit will be foremost among the plans of Hampden Estates executive, Christelle Harris.


The Jamaica Rum Festival will be held on Saturday, February 29 and Sunday March 1 and organisers expect to have in excess of 8,000 patrons, which would top the 5,000 who came out for the historic staging last year.


Speaking at the New York launch of the rum festival here recently, Harris said the staging of the seminar will be crucial for the public to understand more about rums… in particular, those produced in Jamaica.


Harris, whose broader Hussey family operates the Hampden Distillery in Trelawny, said educating rum drinkers would go a far way in allowing them to understand some of the intricacies of the hobby and practice.


“Last year we introduced for the first time to the Jamaican public our Tropical Aged Rum. As a rum producer in Jamaica, I take a lot of pride in the fact that we are so limited in what we are allowed to do, because it's what really allows us to hold on to the heritage and the value of what Jamaican rum is,” Harris told the Jamaica Observer.


“I am going to continue to educate people about that because once people are educated then they understand why the value is there. People need to understand that it's not just labels and bottles that make us special,” she said.


Although she will be speaking largely about Hampden Rum at the seminar, production of the Jamaican rum will be outlined to patrons, specifically in respect of what makes Jamaica's distillery types different.


The seminar will include other people in the rum distillation and distribution business from as far as Italy.


“I am so proud of what Jamaica produces as real Jamaica rum,” added Harris, who also spoke about a special blend that has already been a hit in parts of Europe.


“This year, apart from two expressions from last year we have the distillery edition, which is a seven- to eigh- year-old, really a seven-year-old tropical aged blend that was created for sale at the distillery exclusively. The joke is that my European partners wanted it so badly, because there is such huge demand for our products in Europe because the connoisseur market understands it, that I had to end up selling half of my allotment. I made only 6,000 bottles of it, at US$98 a bottle and theirs is done. I still have some available in Jamaica and I am going to have it exclusively for people to taste.


“We are a part of everything that the organisers are putting together,” she stated.


Harris, a director of the popular family-run Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew, also encouraged patrons to enjoy the festival in the best way possible, saying that the drinking style of rum should be left entirely to the consumer.


“You should drink rum however you like it. To be able to be called rum you should not add sugar to the bottle and still call it rum. In Jamaica we are not allowed to do that so we have that security. I always say to people as long as you know what you are drinking, like what you are drinking.


“Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell says he has three favourite rums — the one he is drinking, the next one and the one after. My mantra is: know what you are drinking. In Jamaica we are very transparent about what we produce and I believe that that transparency is what is going to help us to continue to maintain our value of what true Jamaican spirit is,” said Harris.


And according to Regional Director, North East USA of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), Phillip Rose, the Jamaica Rum Festival will not only boost revenues for Jamaica, but the global brand will also step up its value.


“This particular launch of the rum festival here in New York is designed to essentially spread the word throughout the North Eastern USA region which represents our largest market in the world,” Rose told the Caribbean Business Report.


“We are doing social media outreach, we are constantly sharing a list of our events and festivals with our travel agency partners because they are essentially the extended arm of the JTB sales force. We the JTB are committed to working very closely with travel advisors for these reasons: (1) There are far more of them than there are of us, so they are able to speak with consumers on a one-on-one basis when we are not able to do so; and (2) Jamaica is such a diverse destination, it's important to match the consumer with the right hotel, the right event, the right festival, the right experience and that will allow for high customer satisfaction and high repeat guests.


“We have an ongoing platform on which we share information with our travel agents, and the Jamaica Rum Festival is one of the festivals that they would have been made aware of,” the JTB man said.


Rose said that because of the strong partnership and the ongoing communication that the JTB has, “Anything that is Brand Jamaica right now is received in a positive way.”


He revealed that online searches on Jamaica have increased by 76 per cent in the last three years, something he described as “huge” and something that speaks to just how strong Brand Jamaica continues to be.


Representatives of main sponsor Appleton Estate also shared sentiments in underscoring the link between the rum festival and tourism.


“Our mission is to propel our rums as a tourism product. Our country's finest rums will be on showcase and we have a sensational line-up in the area of music,” Appleton's parent company J Wray & Nephew Marketing Director Marsha Lumley stated.


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