SEA TURTLES are critically endangered in the Caribbean, and the threats facing them, from light pollution to the scourge of poaching, remain a major problem for the region.
But thanks to a unique partnership between the Florida-based Sea Turtle Conservancy and the new rum, Naked Turtle Rum, the fight to help protect sea turtles is getting a boost.
Naked Turtle, which is distilled and produced in St Croix in the US Virgin Islands, has reached out to the Gainesville, Fla.-based Sea Turtle Conservancy, the world’s oldest sea turtle research and conservation group, for a partnership.
“Obviously picking up on the idea of turtles being in the name and the fact that it’s produced in the Caribbean, where there are a lot of sea turtles, they had really made a decision to do something to support sea turtle conservation,” says David Godfrey, executive director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy. ”
After a period of discussions, the two sides agreed on a major push: combating the issue of light pollution.
For sea turtles both in Florida and the Caribbean, artificial lights from beachfront developments, businesses or homes can disorient both nesting females and hatchlings. The hatchlings in particular are drawn toward the light, often leading to their demise.
There are new technologies that can mitigate the problem, however, from keeping lights low to finding bulbs that emit only certain colours — not the full spectrum of light, which is what can affect the turtles.
“[Naked Turtle] wanted the rum to take on that campaign with us,” Godfrey says.
Now, Diageo’s Naked Turtle and the STC have a new campaign is called “Kill the Lights, Save the Turtles,” which has begun by hosting a series of “Nocturtle Parties” at Florida establishments where the STC has been working to implement turtle-friendly lighting strategies.
“It doesn’t have to be as drastic as, ‘let’s turn off all our lights and live in darkness on the beach during the summer months,'” Godfrey says. “There’s a lot of technology that’s been developed to deal with the problem of beachfront lighting for sea turtles.”
The character of the partnership, based more on raising awareness rather than strictly revenue (although Naked Turtle has already donated $40,000 to the Sea Turtle Conservancy), is one Godfrey says can work for the long term.
“They are really amped up about this being a long-term part of what this brand stands for — they really seem to want to have it be something long-term and have our partnership grow as the brand grows,” he says.
The goal, he says, is to bring the message of awareness to a broader group of people than those already interested in conservation issues.
“This is something that has an opportunity to reach anyone 21 older —you think about the marketing reach of Captain Morgan rum, the large young adult and adult audience that’s reached with a major brand — it’s so far beyond something we can achieve with a sea turtle conservation group,” he says. “It opens up new avenues for communicating our message.”
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Now, for the review.
Naked Turtle, produced in St Croix, is distilled five times with local water from the Virgin Islands and bottled “naked,” meaning it never touches the inside of an oak barrel.
The rum is, naturally, clear, with a very sweet aroma with notes of vanilla and a hint of coconut.
The flavour profile is dominated by hints of vanilla, coconut and white sugar.
What really stands out is the smoothness. The common trap into which most white rums fall is an accentuated taste of pure alcohol — but Naked Turtle avoids it.
It may be new, but Naked Turtle is immediately in the upper echelon of white rums on the market.
While it can be enjoyed simply on the rocks, we recommend it with ice and a splash of pineapple juice.