With 18 to 20 different base products but making just 1 million liters of rum a year, St. Lucia Distillers is small in comparison to industry leaders. But Managing Director Laurie Barnard says the small size of the company is precisely what sets it apart and allows for a focus on innovation.
“The differentiation comes with the attention to detail that we can give the distillation,” he says. “As a small distillery, we are able to do all of these different types of rums – what that gives us is a very broad palette of products to draw from. Because we’re so small, we can make these various rums and make them well. Larger distilleries wouldn’t be able to economically go there.”
St. Lucia Distillers’ rum products include heavy and light-bodied rums that have different constituents and characteristics. The company’s 70-SKU product lineup also includes rum-related products such as rum creams, punches and liqueurs. Its premium rums include:
- Admiral Rodney – Award-winning, amber-colored rum;
- Chairman’s Reserve – Medium-bodied rum that is made with a hint of vanilla and spices;
- Chairman’s Reserve Spiced – Rum spiced with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, lemon, orange, allspice and coconut;
- TOZ Gold – Luminous rum with hints of gold and red with sweet raisin, vanilla and nutty notes; and
- TOZ White Gold – TOZ Gold with the color removed to add citrus notes with hints of raisin.
St. Lucia Distillers’ has products around the world in the United States, Asia, Australia and Europe, and in St. Lucia, its products appear in supermarkets, hotel and hospitality settings. “That’s very important for us,” Barnard says. “We premiumized our products for the international market and for the local market, which is very much more discerning.”
In an industry that has no shortage of competitors, St. Lucia Distillers knows that focusing on quality can set it apart from all the others. “We’re a high-class producer – we aren’t the cheapest and never will be the cheapest,” Barnard says. “It’s all about finding that quality product to differentiate us.”
Barnard also notes that because the company has been around since 1931, the industry has come a long way in terms of products and innovations. International standards have become more stringent, and packaging keeps getting better, so St. Lucia Distillers continues to work hard to meet those standards. “You can pick up any sort of industry magazine and look at the quality of the new product coming out, and that’s really setting the standard for what we have to do,” Barnard states. “You have to have your standards in place, and those are the things that, in the past, we didn’t have to concern ourselves with.”
Staying on top of changes and trends is just part of St. Lucia Distillers’ thirst for success. The company has had to work harder to gain customers and recognition because of its island location. One way it overcame that was by joining the West Indies Spirit and Rum Producers Association, which is a strong trade association in the Spanish, English and Dutch-speaking locations in the Caribbean.
“We try to focus on paying enormous attention to detail,” Barnard says. “We embrace change, and we do it all the time. We are currently implementing a strategic review of our company for the next five years. We never stop learning, traveling and looking at competitors’ products.”