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Union Jake’s deliciously flavoured fruit brandy being distilled in SVG

Union Jake’s deliciously flavoured fruit brandy being distilled in SVG


Among the many industries in St Vincent and the Grenadines, emerges a one-of-a-kind business that produces smooth and deliciously flavoured fruit brandy.{{more}}

Union Jake’s, which is nestled away on the southern Grenadine island of Union, focuses on creating an eau-de-vie, a transparent fruit brandy which is distilled from local fruit such as golden apples, guavas, pineapples and even breadfruit.

Unlike large distillers that use molasses to create alcohol, proprietors Jake and Melissa Cassidy use the natural fermented fruit and heat them to the point where alcohol is produced, with the taste and smell of the fruit that is used.

SEARCHLIGHT spoke with Jake Cassidy, who explained the idea behind the business.

Cassidy, who was born and raised in California, explained that he and his wife had fallen in love with the Grenadines when they vacationed there in 2009.

He stated that they had worked at a health care company in California, but after the Affordable Care Act was passed through the US Congress, the health care arena began to change and the business slowly diminished.

Seeing no future in the company, the couple began to brainstorm about other possibilities.

“We didn’t know what we were going do,” Cassidy said.

“What we knew for sure is that we didn’t want to go back to doing the same thing we were doing for the last 10 years. We wanted to do something different. We just didn’t know what it was”.

As frequent visitors to the Grenadines, the Cassidy family vacationed on Union Island in 2012 and began to explore their options.

While enjoying the sand, sea and sun that Union Island has to offer, Cassidy told SEARCHLIGHT that he asked a lot of questions about business opportunities and while some persons tried to deter him, others suggested that he open a restaurant, hotel or yacht chartering business.

“It was plausible for me to paint that picture of being that kind of employer here, but I was really hesitant on going in that direction,” said Cassidy, who has experience in the hospitality field.

“From my brief marketing background, I saw going into competition with 20 other yachts, 20 other restaurants, 10 other hotels…the competition was too thick”.

Cassidy stated that he viewed the situation as a “noble loss” and continued to explore his options.

“We knew that we loved the Grenadines and we knew that we could see ourselves having a life here, so the ingredients to the recipe were there and we just needed to figure out a financial motivation for us to make the leap,” he said.

That motivation presented itself during a trip to the Windward side of St Vincent, when Cassidy found out that persons were growing fruits and vegetables, but had no real market.

An extensive amount of research translated into exorbitant investments, and Cassidy struck gold when he discovered fermentation and distillation.

“We then started looking outside of the box, really far outside of the box and came across fermentation and distillation,” he said.

“I saw that the recoupment, my return on investment would be faster moving towards producing the spirits”.

Union Jake’s began processing mangoes in May 2013 and has moved on to other fruit crops however, their product is not yet in stores.

Instead, Cassidy has spent a fair amount of time in ensuring that his company is as bona fide as possible. He hopes that the product will be available by October 31.

“What we intend to do is by Halloween, have what we’re calling a marketing blitz. What we intend to do between now and then is to bottle, label and work the connections that I have already established in the markets in St Vincent,” he said.

Although he plans on primarily targeting yachters, Cassidy assured that locals will also be able to buy his product as he plans to make it available in three sizes.

“It takes approximately 30 pounds of fruit to produce one bottle,” he revealed. “It’ll be in the markets in Kingstown and… in the tourism locations across the Grenadines. We’re looking at having three different types of bottles.

“I don’t want to leave out any market segment. I know that the people that have the most money will be hopefully buying the largest bottles, but I don’t want to leave out somebody that can’t afford a large bottle. So I want to be able to provide it in a way that if they choose to drink it, that there’s something for them in their price range”.

Furthermore, Cassidy, who has three full-time workers, assures that the taste is impeccable.

“One of the great things about the product is that once you taste it, you’re just gonna love it,” the proprietor declared.

The Cassidy family is adamant on supporting the agricultural sector by purchasing locally grown fruits.

Anyone interested in selling their produce to them can call 433-7780.