Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Yes...Sustainable Rum Production

Let's be a little frivolous today.

Nothing like a shot of rum on a cool or cold evening, especially around a campfire.  Think of outback Australia with a campfire blazing or a sea going sailing ship in the roaring forties.  But did you realise that even rum production is going ........well, sustainable!

While the term sustainable has many connotations, in this case it is about improved water use as well as smart, sustainable biomass energy use.

The Caribbean is well known for rum production, as is Bundberg in Australia.  Two of the biggest rum producers in the Caribbean though, have been embracing much more sustainable options in the rum distilling process from sugarcane.

Rum production produces rather nasty wastewater which needs to be disposed of some how. The Serrallés Rum Distillery in Ponce, Puerto Rico produces DonQ, its main brand of rum, which is the most popular rum in Puerto Rico. It is one of the largest rum distilleries in the Caribbean with an annual output capacity of 15 million proof gallons. The company has spent a decade and $16 million on a new filtration system.

Serrallés used to dump its wastewater into nearby fields, but during rainy season the waste would run off and the distillery would have to shut down when flooding starting which cost the company $200,000 a year. There are claims that Serrallés has turned the "$75 million distillery into one of the cleanest in the world."

The filtration system also saves the company money, as Roberto Serrallés, the VP of business development points out. The wastewater produces biogas which the company uses to run its boilers. Serrallés, who is a sixth generation rum maker with a Ph.D in environmental studies from the University of Oregon, said that the system saves them "as much as nearly 50 percent of annual fuel use."

Serrallés is not the only Puerto Rican rum maker to make its operations more sustainable, with itsmain competitor in Puerto Rico, Bacardi Limited also moving that way.  Bacardi released its 2012 CSR report a few months ago which highlights steps it is taking to reduce energy and water use, reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and source more responsible materials. Bacardi Limited is the largest privately held spirits company in the world.

So next time you have a bacardi and can claim to be drinking sustainably produced rum!!  Will you remember that after a few rums??  Or care?

No comments: