Diageo USVI, the Virgin Islands’ newest rum distiller, today announced the grand opening of its rum distillery in St. Croix that will produce rum for the Captain Morgan brand in the United States. Governor John P. deJongh, Jr. and Lieutenant Governor Gregory R. Francis spoke at the milestone ceremony, along with Paul Walsh, CEO of Diageo plc and David Gosnell, President Global Supply and Global Procurement, Diageo plc. At the event, Diageo USVI also announced that it will invest $5 million to build a visitor center at the distillery which is located at the Renaissance Park development on St. Croix.
Remarking on the completion of the distillery, Governor deJongh said, “Just two years ago, Diageo and the US Virgin Islands entered into a landmark agreement which proved to be a true public-private partnership and helped us to reinvigorate and reinvest in our rum industries. Through this agreement Diageo has also invested in improving the local environment and also contributed to our local community organizations. We are extremely pleased to have Diageo as a partner, not only in the development of this state-of-the-art facility, but also in the development of our shared community.”
US Virgin Islands Delegate to Congress, Donna Christensen, who was not able to attend the event due to her obligations in Washington, DC, added, “Today’s grand opening event is a reminder of how Diageo has delivered on its promises, and underscores the strength of our mutually beneficial relationship. I am confident this is the first day in the next chapter of the ongoing and productive partnership between Diageo and the people of the US Virgin Islands.”
At the ceremony Mr. Walsh announced that Diageo will construct the first ever Captain Morgan visitor center onsite, adjacent to the distillery. The center is slated for completion just in time for the distillery’s first rum shipment in early 2012.
Walsh said, “I am delighted to be here to mark the grand opening of this magnificent facility. It is difficult to overstate the strategic importance of the partnership we have made with the USVI, and what it will mean for the future success of Captain Morgan. The imagination and positive intent demonstrated by Governor deJongh and his colleagues to make this happen have been exemplary, and I want to recognize that. Diageo is committed to being a long-term member of the USVI community. As a symbol of that commitment I am pleased that we are in a position to contribute further to the local economy in the commission of a state of the art visitor center for Captain Morgan, an attraction which will augment one of its strongest industries: tourism. The distillery and its visitor center are a reminder of the flourishing relationship between Diageo and the US Virgin Islands, as we work together to usher the territory into a new and exciting era.”
To mark the official grand opening of the distillery, Captain Morgan and the Morganettes conducted a ribbon cutting ceremony at the site. Additionally, Governor deJongh and Mr. Walsh signed several rum barrels to further commemorate the opening. Three time capsules were also buried on the distillery site, and will be opened ten, twenty, and thirty years from today. Additionally, a documentary on the USVI distillery construction project was presented at the ceremony. The film, directed by award-winning filmmaker and St. Croix native, Johanna Bermudez-Ruiz, offers a detailed look into both the challenges faced and the milestones achieved during the process.
“Today’s event commences what will be decades of rum making at this very site,” said Mr. Gosnell. “This is an important milestone for Diageo USVI, for the US Virgin Islands, and for the people of St. Croix. We want to remain an integral member of the St. Croix community. On behalf of Diageo USVI, we are filled with gratitude for the warm welcome shown to us by the people of St. Croix.”
Construction of the 20 million proof gallon rum distillery began in August 2009, and was completed on time and on budget, with a laudable safety record. The distillery will generate an estimated $130 million in new tax revenue for the Virgin Islands Government, in addition to the $139 million that the construction has already brought to the community. Diageo USVI has committed that at least 80 percent of the full-time employees at the distillery will be from the USVI, and the company has created more than 60 full-time jobs to support the operation and management of the distillery.
The distillery was constructed with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification principles. Some of the 21st century ecological and environmental controls incorporated in the design include a closed-loop water system that will eliminate the need for any washwater disposal into the nearby Caribbean Sea. The design also incorporates organic solids reclamation and storm water best management practices.
ABOUT DIAGEO USVI
In June 2008, Governor John P. deJongh, Jr. and Diageo USVI jointly announced a public-private initiative for the construction and operation of a high capacity rum distillery on St. Croix, USVI. This 30-year commitment will provide a major economic stimulus for the entire Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Once in operation the distillery will have the capacity to distill up to 20 million proof gallons of Captain Morgan rum per year and is expected to generate an estimated $130 million in new tax revenue for the Virgin Islands Government. Construction of the facility, located on Melvin Evans Highway, began in August 2009.
Beginning in 2012, the distillery will supply rum used to make Captain Morgan products for the United States. Captain Morgan is a global leader among premium spirits and is the second leading rum in the world.
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