Local distillery Cayman Spirits Company is bringing its Seven Fathoms rum to Canada, with the importer now looking to bring in another shipment after the first shipment two months ago sold well.
“We are in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Colombia, western Canada right now, and talking to some people in eastern Canada, but there is nothing available there yet,” said distillery co-founder Walker Romanica. “We are slowly moving into the market – we cannot get onto every shelf everywhere, but we are moving in and building relationships.”
The hope is that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, better known as the LCBO, will grant a speculative listing to Seven Fathoms, which will allow any retail store or restaurant to purchase the product, without the volume requirement that a general listing would carry.
“We don’t want get into an issue where we can’t supply what is required,” said company co-founder Nelson Dilbert.
Getting even a speculative listing at the LCBO would be huge for Seven Fathoms rum, said Mr. Romanica.
“The way that the Canadian system works is rather unique,” he said. “[The LCBO] is the largest purchaser of spirits in the world because of the way they centralize everything.”
The LCBO controls the sale, transportation and delivery of alcohol in Ontario. Founded in 1927 to deal with Prohibition, the organization reports to Canada’s Ministry of Finance.
The company was able to get Seven Fathoms rum listed with the British Columbia Liquor Control and Licensing Branch last year, but it took about six months before the first shipment of about four pallets of rum went out late in the year. The importer was then able to get the rum placed in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
“It’s there now; it’s on the shelves,” said Mr. Romanica.
One issue that has come up since then is the devaluation of the Canadian dollar with respect to the U.S. dollar. Because there is a limit on how much Seven Fathoms can be sold for, Canadian importers are looking for Cayman Spirits Company to reduce its prices to offset the value drop of the Canadian dollar. Shipping to Canada might not be viable if the exchange rate trend continues.
“We are looking into it and [will] see how it goes,” said Mr. Romanica.
Mr. Dilbert added, “It is the U.S. dollar that is making this become an issue as it is so strong right now.”
In addition to Canada, Cayman Spirits Company exports to “approximately 35 states in the U.S.,” said Mr. Romanica, and the rum is available in Bahama Breeze restaurants nationwide. The company’s rum is also available in Germany, which Mr. Romanica said is the largest rum market in Europe.
“Every area we add on, we have to be very careful because we only have so much product from previous years. Seven Fathoms is a blend of different ages 1 to 3 years old, so every batch has a selection of different age barrels,” he said.
Cayman Spirits Company now produces more than 1 million liters of spirits, including rum and vodka.
“Right now, Seven Fathoms is the only one we export,” said Mr. Walker, “even though we have a lot of interest in exporting our vodka. The process to start exporting takes at least six months with all the paperwork and the filing and product recipe testing.”