BurtBliss Swizzle operations shut down after complaints
Shadow Finance Minister David Burt is at the centre of a probe into the illegal sale of bootleg bottles of rum swizzle on the internet.
BurtBliss Swizzle was being sold on the website swizzle.bm up until Monday morning.
It is understood the business has been running for at least several months, but the website was shut down on Monday afternoon after officials received complaints about the product.
Mr Burt said in a statement released last night that he understood a complaint related to the website had been made to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and added that with hindsight he should have thought his actions through more carefully.
The Royal Gazette has obtained a printout of a page from the site — no longer accessible — which promotes four new products for July.
A 750ml bottle of frozen swizzle — which is pictured in a Goslings rum bottle on the website — sells for $14.
A full litre of the tipple, which is also sold in a used Goslings rum bottle and is BurtBlisss best-seller, will cost $18, while 1.75 litres of swizzle — sold in what looks to be discarded fruit juice bottles — sells for $30.
And according to the website, five gallons of the beverage — the perfect size for a big party or your Cup Match camp — is on sale for $250.
The catering-sized quantity of the drink appears to be sold in giant demijohns similar to those used in office water coolers.
A disclaimer on the site states: BurtBliss Swizzle takes no responsibility for any harm or injury that may result from the enjoyment of BurtBliss Swizzle. We promise you a good time and take ....
When The Royal Gazette attempted to access the swizzle.bm site via a Google link, the page read: This website has been suspended. Please contact GMD Consulting Limited at 296-9074 to reinstate service.
Mr Burt holds 90 percent of GMD Consulting shares and is listed as one of two directors of the company.
The webpage for the company is also now blocked and been given a McAfee security rating of red.
The Royal Gazette contacted GMD by telephone yesterday and asked to speak to Mr Burt.
When told by a member of staff that he was not available, The Gazette asked why Mr Burt was no longer selling swizzle on his website.
The staff member replied: I cant say definitively, maybe I guess he [David Burt] had such a high level of orders that he just couldnt reach before Cup Match.
I am sure that would be the most likely reason. I havent seen him so I cant confirm that but that would be my guess.
The staff member also confirmed that Mr Burt was running the swizzle operation and was the person who could answer any questions.
When The Royal Gazette contacted Mr Burt by telephone, he insisted that any conversation be off the record, before asking for questions to be e-mailed to him.
He later e-mailed a statement asking for a deadline time, but did not respond to subsequent e-mails from this newspaper.
Repeated calls by The Royal Gazette to Mr Burts cell phone also went unanswered.
The Department of Public Prosecutions is aware of the operation and it is also understood officials from Consumer Affairs are now investigating possible breaches of licencing, trademark and health and safety regulations.
A Goslings representative said the company was treating the matter seriously, but was not prepared to comment further until the company had examined it in more detail.
In his statement, Mr Burt said: My family, like many Bermudian families, has been making swizzle for years. It is a tradition that I learned from my father, and it is a tradition that I share with my colleagues and friends, especially during the Bermuda Day and Cup Match festivities.
It has come to my attention that a complaint has been made to the Director Public Prosecutions office to the effect that I made a small website regarding my familys traditional swizzle. Rather than shy away and make excuses, I would like to acknowledge that this has occurred, and explain I acted in good faith, although in hindsight I realise it may have been ill advised.
Rum Swizzle may be a distinctly Bermudian part of our holiday season, however I should have thought my actions through more carefully. Given the distinct political and legal implications of this development it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further about this matter.
In the spirit of the holiday, I delivered a bottle of swizzle to the Premier and his Cabinet today during their meeting. I hope they enjoyed it, and I hope that all of Bermuda has a safe and enjoyable Cup Match holiday.
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