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Issue 82 - Bodega Don George

Whisky Magazine Issue 82
September 2009

 

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Bodega Don George

Dave Broom heads to a surprising Scottish outpost in the Dominican Republic.

The domino tiles are shuffled once more and we pick, eyeing each other up, trying to second-guess our opponents' hands. Candles flutter in the warm midnight air. Double six is thrown and off we go once more. Cigars are burning and the yellow netting on the bottle has slipped down provocatively, like a burlesque dancer's fishnet. Ice in the tumbler, slug of rum. Do I follow his lead or block him out? We have all night.

This is the Dominican Republic after all. This is the rum life.

The scene is quintessentially Caribbean and yet it is taking place in the latest and in some ways most surprising outpost of the Edrington Group. A few eyebrows were raised when this cautious Scottish whisky firm said it was buying a rum brand, especially a rum brand called Brugal which few in the UK had ever heard of. Then you looked at the figures. This wasn't some boutique Caribbean rum,this was a five million case brand which was already at over one million cases in Spain, a market which is shipping whisky sales at an alarming rate. The other four million are drunk here in the DomRep, which isn't bad given there's only 10 million people in the country and one presumes that figure includes children.

You could say they like their rum here. Specifically, they like their Brugal. Everywhere you look, town signs, street signs, billboards, huge trucks, all are branded with the red white and blue Brugal logo, the colours of which are, of course, the same as the national flag. Maybe they're interchang...

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