Martha Miller has been appointed Executive Director of NRJ (National Rums of Jamaica), the first woman to hold this position.
Rumporter: First of all, congratulations on your nomination, you are the first woman in this position, it’s a source of pride?
MM: Of course, I am very proud to have been elected and chosen to be the CEO of NRJ, such a venerable institution. It is fascinating to think that the group encapsulates Clarendon Distillery, existing since the mid 1700s and the prestigious Long Pond Distillery which has been also making rum since 1753.
I feel honoured to be privileged to lead such a dynamic group, and it is also wonderful for me as a Jamaican and as a woman. I am very proud about this accomplishment. Even more proud that It is the first time that a woman is at the head of a distillery in Jamaica. I take that with a lot of humility of course, but also some pride.
Rumporter: Can you tell us a bit more about your career path ?
MM: I joined the company as Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary on November 18, 2013 and was promoted to Deputy CEO in March, 2020. Before being employed to National Rums, my career in Finance spanned over 20 years having served in senior positions as Regional Head Technology at LIME; Vice President, Financial Planning & Analysis at Cable & Wireless Jamaica Limited; and General Manager, Finance at the ICD Group of Companies/Mechala Group.
Rumporter: What are your “future missions / big challenges” at the National Rums of Jamaica? What will be the axes of development?
MM: Well, we have been developing more cane lands in Clarendon and in Long Pond lately, hiring more people locally. We are a key player in the community and that’s important to us.
I must say that we have incredible partners with the Jamaican Government, Demerara Distillers Limited in Guyana and with West Indies Rum and Maison Ferrand in Barbados. We share the same vision and there are many things that we want to accomplish together.
We are very keen to be a key player in the economy in jamaica, this is important to us.
Everything we do is related to the quality of rum, making beautiful Jamaican rum, southern style in Clarendon and Northern style in Long Pond, always being able to do this by engaging and supporting the local communities in which we operate and their environs.
The sustainability of our operations and building our communities is of utmost importance and we will continue to build year by year until this mission is accomplished.
Rumporter: Rums from Jamaica are very much appreciated in France, distilleries like Hampden or more recently Long Pond promote their own brands. Is this the beginning of a new era for Jamaican rums?
MM: I think that Jamaican rums have always been appreciated in Europe. And this is the reason Jamaican rums since inception have been aged here in Jamaica but also sent to Europe, where they were double aged there.
This is part of the very long rum history. This is an old tradition that Clarendon Distillers and Long Pond have been continiously doing. This is part of our heritage as a country but also as a company and we are keen to continue doing this with customers and partners, some of them we have worked for decades together.
Also, you know, we have developed the Monymusk Plantation brand that we are selling both locally and internationally ; and, we are now preparing to launch a very premium single vintage 15 year-old rum under the name and seal of Long Pond. This is also important as we think the two work perfectly together and the two brands are part of our ethos.
Rumporter: What are the biggest export markets for Jamaican Rums? Where are they mostly consumed?
MM: Well, I am proud to say, as a Jamaican that Jamaican rums are loved all over the world and this is something we are very proud of. Rum is part of our culture. We, as a company and as a distillery export to a number of countries. Of course, the USA, UK, and EU being our main points of exports but also in Jamaica of course!
Rumporter: More generally, how do you see the rum market evolving?
MM: Jamaican rum is about high quality rum – Jamaican rum is premium rum so we are very glad to see that people are looking for better and better rum everyday, this is something that’s wonderful to us, that speaks to us.
Jamaica has been proud to make high quality rum for centuries; so to see that markets are more interested in quality rum is a great thing and very encouraging for us. Of course, as rums become older and crafted in potstills with our unique artisanship, they cost more and I think that as people will go and buy a more qualitative rum you’ll see some of these rums costing necessarily a bit more.