Impact International / July 1, 1995
By Larry Luxner
Guyana's Demerara Distillers Ltd., which produces a range of rum, gin and vodka brands, has begun a major expansion into the Caribbean market, as well as a $9.6 million expansion of its Georgetown facilities.
DDL's chairman, Yesu Persaud, says his company's flagship rum -- El Dorado -- is now being sold in Central and South America, though he declined to specify which countries.
"We are selecting the countries very carefully," he said, adding that DDL rums are already selling well in Canada and the United Kingdom. "In the U.S., we've decided to hold off, because it requires hugs sums for advertising and promotion, and we don't want to waste our resourced until we're ready for that."
DDL currently sells 500,000 cases of El Dorado a year worth some $20 million. The company has 1,300 employees and is one of the largest private enterprises in Guyana.
"We have the most up-to-date facilities in the Caribbean, and over the years we've been improving," said Persaud. In the U.K., the company owns a bottling operation for El Dorado rums, Vaskaya vodka and Lord Roberts London Dry Gin.
Unlike other rum-producing countries in the region, most of Guyana's rum exports by volume are still in the form of "high wine," an overproof rum that comes off the stills at 90-95% alcohol-by-volume, and between 163 and 167 proof. DDL reduces the strength of the high wine to 140 proof, after which it is aged in open barrels for up to 15 years, blended and bottled into various brands.
Persaud said 80% of what DDL produces is exported, mainly because of Guyana's small and relatively low-income population.