Reviving an ancient skill of cooperage in Barbados

In the 1930s, West Indies Rum Distillery had an in-house team of cooperage experts who made and repaired the casks needed to age rums. It became the only cooperage on the island and trained several generations of locals in these invaluable skills.

But with the development of bourbon, whose rules require the use of only new barrels, the Caribbean market has seen large numbers of these American barrels arrive once they have been emptied. As a result, Barbados' local cooper heritage has been lost over the years.

Aware of the value of these skills, we decided to revive them by offering our Barbadian teams the opportunity to be trained in traditional French cooperage by our craftsmen in Cognac, where there are many coopers with centuries of unrivalled experience.

We have therefore undertaken to train 5 particularly motivated people as part of a special programme set up by Maison Ferrand. They will come to France for several months to learn all the subtleties of the art of cooperage from our top experts.

Our values of sharing and learning between our Barbados and Cognac distilleries

Beyond cooperage, Maison Ferrand aims to bring together and encourage the sharing of skills between our teams in Barbados and Cognac. With the University of Barbados, we send several young people each year to work in our European and American markets.

And vice versa, our Cognac teams go to Barbados to deepen their knowledge of fermentation and share their know-how with their counterparts on the other side of the Atlantic.

For a cellar master or master blender, developing this sensitivity and technical knowledge brings undeniable added value to their future creations. It allows them to take even greater pleasure in their art by mastering all the subtleties of the trade.

That's why every year we organise a competition to bring 5 people from Barbados to France and vice versa, so that everyone at Maison Ferrand and West Indies Rum Distillery can discover each distillery, exchange ideas and learn.

Sharing knowledge is at the heart of our values, so that together we can achieve ever greater quality and creativity in the production of our spirits.