A drink with… Margaret Monplaisir, Saint Lucia Distillers

12th July, 2017 by Annie Hayes

Margaret Monplaisir, managing director of The Saint Lucia Distillers Group of Companies, gives SB the rundown on last year’s acquisition – and the rum trends to watch now.

Margaret Monplaisir, managing director of Saint Lucia Distillers

First of all, what’s your favourite drink?
My favourite drink is long Chairman’s and ginger; it is a light refreshing drink especially in warm, sunny Saint Lucia and is suitable for any occasion. However I must admit that I enjoy an occasional Chairman’s Spiced with cranberry juice when hanging out with my girlfriends, and Admiral Rodney on the rocks at the end of a good meal.

Groupe Bernard Hayot acquired Saint Lucia Distillers Group of Companies in March 2016. How has the process been, and how has your company benefited from the deal?
The transition has been relatively smooth as Groupe Bernard Hayot embraces the same values and vision for St. Lucia Distillers as us the employees. St. Lucia Distillers is the result of the merger of two family owned distilleries over forty years ago. Under the leadership of Laurie Barnard, whose family was one of the founding shareholders, the focus was on building the company by creating unique, high quality rums. Now that we have achieved this, the focus has shifted to investing in our facility in order to make our plant more efficient, while making our entire facility more attractive, which will aid in marketing our products to the rest of the world. Having recognised the quality of our rum, Groupe Bernard Hayot purchased the company with every intention to invest and take our rums global. St. Lucia Distillers could not have hoped for a better investor.

Rum is on a premiumisation journey. How are you tapping into this?
Our focus over the years on creating unique, premium Saint Lucian rums has paid off, as we now have the expertise and adequate stock to benefit from the premiumisation of rum. We have therefore been working on our packaging to reflect the quality of our rums. We hired an international design agency with considerable experience, having worked our packaging to reflect the quality of the rums without losing their identity, making the rums still recognizable to current consumers. Our Chairman’s Reserve was the first of these to be launched in the new packaging. We also have plans to use from our varied assortment of aged rum stock to create new rums in the super premium category.

‘Craft’ is a significant trend in rum as consumers become interested in production methods. How are you working to educate bartenders and consumers?
After years of envying the larger distilleries for their significant volumes and automated processes, it is quite exciting to now be admired as a ‘craft’ distillery. We have over the last few years focused on educating people on various stills and the different rums that can be made, as well as the ageing process, the types of barrels used, the length of time in the barrel and the importance of blending. The purpose has been to educate people to appreciate rums not just for their age, but also for their complexity and versatility.

How are you actively engaging with bartenders and the wider on-trade?
In 2017, for the first time ever we will be hosting an international Mai Tai Bartenders Competition. Competitions will be held around the world and the winning bartenders will be brought into Saint Lucia for the final competition. While in Saint Lucia, the bartenders will get to train Saint Lucian bartenders and experience Saint Lucian culture.

What activities can we expect to see from you in 2017 and on into 2018?
During 2017 and 2018 we will continue with our repackaging initiative and will be launching our Bounty and Admiral Rodney ranges of rum. We aim to build on our presence in the international markets by working more closely with our existing distributors and appointing new distributors where we have none, in order to increase the availability of our rums to the rest of the world. In Saint Lucia we have lots of exciting promotions planned for the local market, intended to keep Saint Lucians excited about our products.

One Response to “A drink with… Margaret Monplaisir, Saint Lucia Distillers”

  1. LADISLAO KERTESZ says:

    Dear Margaret

    I am the Editir of the Mt.St. Benedict NEWSLETTER, I have lost contact with Stu Monplasir.
    Can you help me. He was my classmate in Trinidad. The Abbey School.

    God Bless

    Ladislao

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