One of Barbados’ most iconic rum distilleries has shifted course to help meet the needs of frontline workers in the pandemic.
The venerable West Indies Rum Distillery is now playing a major role in producing both surgical alcohol and hand sanitizer, which have been donated to public health officials and local communities.
It’s also been donated to the Barbados Fire Service, Barbados Police Force, Barbados Ambulance Service and Customs, along with the island’s quarantine center.
The distillery is perhaps best known for producing Barbados’ famous Cockspur rum, along with a number of other brands.
Andrew Hassell, managing director of the distillery, said WIRD had already begun producing sanitizer before the pandemic reached Barbados.
“The Barbados government has recognized the distillery can be a part of the solution for the COVID-19 challenge,” Hassell said.
“This is not our primary or core job and it is not something that the team was not really familiar with. However, it has been a new way of working and adapting during the crisis,” Hassell told Caribbean Journal. : But as this was to help our country, our people, the team reacted very quickly and did everything that was possible to answer Barbados’ needs. The distillery team is a very skilled team with many years of experience. Hence, it was not a significant challenge to them. I am very proud of my team.”
For now, WIRD is producing enough to meet demand — with “no maximum.” he said.
In the long term, though, Hassell said he ’s still focused on “producing great quality and tasting Barbados rum, as well as to continue to research on the history of rum in Barbados, with the view of reviving old traditions.”