Care for ‘Samoa Whiskey’?

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,

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PRODUCT OF SAMOA: Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi with a bottle of Samoa Whiskey. Photo / Government.

PRODUCT OF SAMOA: Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi with a bottle of Samoa Whiskey. Photo / Government.

Whiskey connoisseurs’ can now look forward to sampling a premium product made in Samoa. 

That’s thanks to the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (S.R.O.S.) who have developed a whiskey derived from taro.

They are in the final stages of discussions before presenting the final product to the private sector. It is expected to be launched before the end of the year.

Typically derived from barley, Samoa’s whiskey is made from the country’s most abundant crop – taro.

S.R.O.S. Chief Executive officer, Dr. Seuseu Tauati told the Sunday Samoan that this is in line with the organisation’s mandate to give value added to our country’s economy.

“All you’re looking for is starch then you look at what we do have in abundance in Samoa,” said Dr. Seuseu. 

“We could have gone with star fruit, but then when we look at the supply, there’s not that much star fruit there, you know it’s seasonal." 

“Then you return to what we are mandated to do as a value added and then you look at what’s abundant in the field and its taro." 

“So the main reason we went into it is because we can get those another option to sell their taro, it’s basically why we exist.”

Looking to serve a high end market, Dr. Seuseu explained that the product development of taro based whiskey took about two years to create in order to perfect the taste, quality and look of the product. The packaging was sourced from overseas following recommendations from S.R.O.S’s collaboration with market and research experts to keep in line with the parameters of developing a premium product to compete on the level." 

“We followed all the parameters; if you look at the cap of the bottle, it’s not tin, it’s a wooden cork,” he said.  

“Tin caps are usually of a low quality like red label whiskeys that are blended which means one quarter or one fifth of it is alcohol the rest is factory made ethanol blended with it to get across the taste." 

“Our whiskey is completely pure, it’s all from the taro, there’s nothing else. The colour comes from oak barrows from America and the bottle is sourced from Italy.”

“There were a lot of discussions; we were looking for a design that was marketable commercial wise. Again it’s still at the start phase to the point where I won’t put the label on it, we are discussing the label. We have designed the label and it will be ready for launch some time mid-year.”

Dr. Seuseu said this is a first for S.R.O.S. and discussions still need to be held in order to decide how the commercialisation of the product will be handled, but what they can confirm is that they are ready and open to discuss partnerships at this time.

“We are ready for a partnership within the private sector, of that I can be solid on. We can’t provide too much of the storyline, we can tell you that we have been looking at it for a couple of years. If there is no one who wants to go into partnership, then S.R.O.S. will move into the next step of commercialisation. We are still learning things right through.”

At this time, Dr. Seuseu is keeping a tight lid on the details until the official launch particularly on what the end design and name for Samoa’s premium whiskey will look like.

“I’ll put it this way, the final label is not finalised, it can change in between now and the official launch. I can tell you it will be a local design." 

“The bottle we gave Cabinet was something to present to them and say this bottle came from us. We are trying to close the circle to protect the product because a lot of people can read the details and just run with it.”

He said the feedback from those who have had a chance to taste the whiskey have been positive. 

Asked whether S.R.O.S. will possibly look at developing wine or other varieties of alcoholic beverages from local produce in the near future, Dr. Seuseu was ambivalent.

“I’m not a whiskey drinker but yes we have had very good feedback, they say it’s a very smooth whiskey and it’s good. With wine, we have looked into it but it was before my time. Is it possible? Yes. Will we do it? Not sure.”

No date has been set for the official launch.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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