Under the Counter

March 4, 2014

The first couple of days in Grenada were a whirlwind; we were able to explore the spice market, St. George’s and tour the island.  On Saturday, as we walked through the market looking for nutmeg, cinnamon, and other spices we discovered George, a vendor, who sells wine and “under the counter”.   The rum he produced was truly spiced rum, with pieces of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves in the bottle!  These beverages were informally produced by George and were not set by restrictions.

While I knew the liquor and wine was informally produced, it did not seem like a big issue to me at the time.  On Monday, when we met with the Minister of Health, Dr. Mitchell, one of the first things he mentioned was the increased production of  “bush rum”.  Bush rum or “under the counter” originally got the name because it was produced illegally behind bushes but now it is so common that the production is out in the open.   Bush rum can be contaminated and have higher ethanol contamination because it is not controlled.  Additionally, the government cannot tax it because it is illegally produced. One of the main concerns is that because it is cheaper, people can buy and consume more alcohol.

Once I realized how widespread “under the counter” or bush rum was, I noticed it in multiple places on the island, including: the market, gift shops, and even our hotel bar.  Dr. Mitchell thinks that our alcohol policy draft should include provisions regarding bush rum because it is becoming increasingly common.  If we can incorporate issues regarding bush rum into our alcohol policy then there would be huge benefits for the government and community.

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