Distillery law could help create new jobs, says Gosling’s
Recently tabled legislation aimed at creating distilleries on the island could potentially help to create jobs and options for tourists, according to the head of Gosling’s Bermuda.
The Distilleries Licensing Act 2023, tabled in the House of Assembly last month, proposes the creation of a licensing regime for the operation of a distillery and the sale and supply of locally distilled spirits.
Malcolm Gosling, chief executive of Gosling’s Bermuda, said that the company’s board had not yet discussed the legislation, but they have had “brief discussions” at past meetings about the advantages and disadvantages of local distilling.
While he emphasised that no plans were in place right now, he noted the introduction of local distilleries would potentially open the door to the creation of new Bermudian products.
“Anything you can do to give tourists more opportunities to do tastings and more products to purchase that are locally manufactured and only available here is a positive,” he said.
Mr Gosling said that right now Gosling’s rums are distilled overseas and shipped into Bermuda to be aged and blended.
“Everything we do with any of the Gosling’s brands that are exported, no matter where you drink them in the world, they have all been blended and partially aged in Bermuda and then exported from Bermuda,” he said.
He said that if the company were to consider on-island distillation, it would need to look at both financial and environmental impacts, noting that the two are interconnected.
“Reducing emissions as much as possible and then treating the waste in a way that is environmentally responsible has a financial cost to it,” he said.
“What those costs are, we don’t know yet, but we will hopefully find out in the not too distant future. It’s also not just the set up costs but the ongoing costs to make a distillery work.
“On the positive side it’s adding possible tourism activities. It could end up providing a greater number of jobs for Bermudians if things work out financially.
“We are using all Bermudian labour for the rums we export right now, but a distillery and ageing facility and so forth would require even more hands to make it work.”
Mr Gosling said base ingredients for distilling, such as sugar, would likely still need to be imported for larger scale operations because of the quantities required.
But he said local distilling could still potentially create opportunities in local agriculture.
“There are a lot of elements that you would consider,” he said. “Gosling’s currently is exporting only rum, but there are other things. There are botanicals that can be locally infused and incorporated into neutral spirits, for instance.
“You could create flavoured vodkas and gins using locally grown products. That could be something.”
Asked about the possibility of smaller-scale distillation aimed at the local market, Mr Gosling said it was a possibility although overhead costs could make it difficult.
“You are looking at a fair amount of cost to set up and continue to operate,” he said. “Depending on what those overhead costs are, if you have a fairly small customer base it could wind up being fairly challenging.
“It also depends on how many licences are given out. If they are giving out numerous numbers, then I think it would be difficult for anybody to make it work.”