We were lucky to have a chat with Gayle Seale who is the Foursquare Rum Distillery Global Brand Ambassador. She is talking about the family business, about her love of rum and how she approaches her job #rumfamily. She is also an ambassador of Barbadians rums integrity who will fight for what she believes in #savebarbadosrum. She is always happy to help out and share her knowledge. She managed to create such a great impact on the industry that the great Ian Burrell even created a drink for her.
Hi Gayle! Please introduce yourself ?
I’m our Global Rum Ambassador. Unlike most brand ambassadors I didn’t come up through the bartending industry. I was a Montessori teacher and a photojournalist and I married into a rum family. Spending years alongside Richard as he built his distillery from scratch and watching him work hard has giving me the background to be able to talk about and help sell our rum brands. They are in my blood now.
I am lucky that for me it is not a brand story I’m selling it is our family rum and history I am sharing. Rum is my life not just my job. I will be honest and put it out there that I do not handle depletion’s or numbers. I talk about what we do. I have an easy job in some ways as we have so many cool things going on back at the distillery. We make the best rum we can. Richard really puts his heart and soul into every bottle. We have the ability to take our time as we are still a small family owned distillery. We have quite a few different brands and there is always something new on the horizon. Every day is different. It also doesn’t hurt that we have won the ISC rum producer of the year last 4 years and the IWSC 3 years.
Do you take any sustainable actions?
As a Canadian I grew up very concerned about the environment. I am happy to say we just put in solar panels onto our distribution warehouse. We also capture our CO2 gas from the fermentation process and canister it for carbonation in local soft drinks. We put in a complete waste treatment plant at the beginning of the distillery project and all our solid waste is collected and shipped off to the USA to be used in animal feed. Our waste water is filtered through black plastic media and used to water our lawns on the property which is much needed during our dry season. Foursquare is my favourite place to work as to me it’s like the Disney World of rum. Our grounds are beautifully manicured. The buildings are all traditional Barbadian plantation style. The colours are welcoming and every day I walk through the property I smile and I’m reminded how truly lucky I am.
What is a regular day for you?
As a small family business I handle most of my daily tasks myself. I do get to share the most amazing PA ever Julie Ann with Richard and Sir David. I book my own travel. I plan my schedule. My day at home on the island usually involves a very early morning walk to get some sunshine and clear my head for the day. I feed my small pack of dogs and spend some time with them. I then head to the distillery which truly is one of my happy places. My office is in our bottling plant. I have my desk and photo studio set up there. Emails keep me busy. Planning my next rum adventures around the world. I’m in direct contact with our distribution teams around the world who point me in the right direction.
When I plan a trip they are my first point of contact. Letting me know where we need to visit. I also am in contact with most of the bartenders and managers so I am aware who needs some Foursquare love and who would like to have trainings or pop ups or rum clubs. I like to make sure I utilize my time away efficiently and make time for as many as I can fit in. Sometimes I need more than 24 hrs in a day. Once I managed to fit 4 countries in one day. Breakfast in Dominica – Lunch in Barbados – Dinner in Miami and late night cocktails at La Factoria in Puerto Rico.
How do you manage a global market?
Each market is a different challenge. I try to make sure I get to as many as possible. I pushed to open Puerto Rico as a new market last year and for me that has been a great rum adventure. Going into a major rum producing island is always tough. We went in small. Respecting your competitors is important. I like knowing I have so many great friends at Don Q and Barcadi and I did talk to them when we decided to enter the market. Being honest and upfront is something very important to me. They Puerto Rican people are so supportive so I make sure I get there a few times a year. They are such welcoming and strong people.
The pros and cons of living on the road…
Life on the road is fun. It is challenging to try and fit in as much as I try to and still have time to sleep and eat. On the road with some of my amazing brand ambassadors from other distilleries which I call #RumFamily is a great part of my job. We make special time for each other. Breakfast club is a way for us to catch up away from the crowds of shows. Eating breakfast is so important when you are on the road. We also make sure there is a snack bag available and check on each other during the day to make sure everyone has food and bathroom breaks. It is normal at small shows to see us working a competitive brand table to give them a break. I have to shout out Alison B who always makes sure Zan and I have healthy gluten free options to eat at any shows we are all at together. One of the things I love most is spending time outside the bars and restaurants with rum family. A Tales on Tour this year Don Q hosted an amazing beach cleanup event. I had so much fun taking part in it. The industry is great at giving back to our communities. One of my favourite perks of my job is my rum family. A big plus to life on the road is I get to see our kids while I travel. Our daughter lives in London UK and we make a point of spending a night in London on every UK or European trip so we can eat dinner and spend some time with her. Our son works in the industry for Velier and is based in Italy. We see him at a lot of the whisky and spirits shows around the world as well. My favourite part of my job is the people I meet every day that become rum family. I love the world travel. I dislike living out of a suitcase.
Life in the road can be hard on people. Living out of a suitcase and eating out all day every day sounds fun but isn’t that glamorous. I am lucky that half of my travel is with Richard so that makes it a little less stressful for me. I make morning time to eat and work out. Eating healthy on the road can be difficult but these days there are many more healthy options. I love to walk and my goal is to put in at least 5 kms per day. Making time for fitness can be hard. I travel with a small door hanging gym kit. It gives me exercises to do using my own resistance. It helps when I only have 20 mins and it fits into the palm of my hand so easy to pack. Living out of a suitcase is not my favourite thing. It is hard figuring out what to take on the road. Over packing is so easy to do. I have a lot of clothes that are nice and match so I can travel lighter. Knowing the social etiquette of each country is important too.
How do you handle your social media accounts?
Having a photography background makes taking the photos for our Instagram account a little easier. I love photography. We have a company account and I have my personal account and I also run Guardians of rum account. It takes a lot of time and creativity to run three accounts at the same time. I like to keep the brand account and my personal one different but similar. For the brand one I will take shots of the bottles and cocktails and bartenders and I try to keep it on brand and making sure I support the bars and restaurants I’m visiting. For my personal one I like to take selfies with the people I’m with and bartenders who I respect. I also take photos of my shoes whenever I’m on the road. I now have a hoodie with my converse shoes and my favourite saying “this does not suck” and my Daiquiri on the back. It’s quite fun to be able to share my cocktail with strangers on my travels. Someone always asks about it when they see me in my hoodie.
Let’s talk about your cocktail, the Gayle Seale Daiquiri!
I also am so honoured to have a cocktail named after me. The Gayle Seale Daiquiri by Ian Burrell (ndlr : the World’s Global Rum Ambassador). He took all my favourite things and put them into one cocktail that represents Barbados and everything I talk about every day. I love a daiquiri. The Corn’n’Oil is cocktail of Barbados. He mixed them together with our products and made me something special. I feel so honoured to see it on menus around the world. This past December my rum family around the world made Dec 30 International Gayle Seale Daiquiri Day. I was so honoured and humbled. It was so much fun. I felt so much love that day. There were Gayle Seale Daiquiri parties in some of my favourite bars around the world and everyone had on a T shirt like my hoodie with my shoes – This does not suck and my Daiquiri recipe. Best day ever.
The Gayle Seale Daiquiri
50 ml Doorly’s XO
25 ml Lime juice
15 ml JD Velvet Falernum
5 ml Sugar syrup
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
How do you deal with competition between brands?
Staying on brand is important but also pushing the rum category is also needed. I am the first one to post a photo of a competitor cocktail when I’m on the road and my brand isn’t available. I will also turn up when invited to competitor events to support them. I also have a few young bartenders I mentor online. I give them a safe space to discuss issues and I advise them. My motto is a problem shared is a problem halved. We are all rum family.
Could you please explain the ‘Save Barbados Rum’ movement?
The past year we have been fighting vigorously to protect the Barbados rum industry. #saveBarbadosRum We have been making rum here in Barbados the same way for over 300 years. Water yeast and molasses/sugar cane juice / sugar cane syrup. There is a new foreign company that is adding sugar all kinds of things to make their alcohol palatable and pretending it’s honest Barbados rum and asking you to pay Barbados rum prices for confected rum flavoured alcohol. We are trying to protect the integrity and honesty of Barbados rum. We don’t want them to stop making their product we just want them to be transparent and stop calling it Barbados Rum. It’s all about making sure there is true honesty on Barbados Rum labels. Can you imagine if someone decided to add sugar or glycerin to Scotch whisky and told you it was real scotch whisky ? Save Barbados Rum
Do you have any healthy tip you could share with us?
Working in the F&B industry can be hard and people expect a lot from you. We have to keep ourselves healthy as it is F&B. We have to eat all the food and drink all the drinks is how most people see it. I spend more time talking than drinking. I’m pretty sure that is why Richard sends me on the road without him half the time- for a little peace a quiet. Lol Foursquare is not really a shot rum. I always say rum is to be shared with friends and good conversation. There is still a shot mentally in our world. I don’t really do shots as it’s not my thing. I did take a shot from a famous bartender on her last night of service in the hotel bar she had been working in before leaving to start her own bar in her home country. I have had a few shots with friends over the years but I do not encourage shot taking. That is my own choice. It may be because I’m a mum and I’m honest and upfront about it but no one forces me into shot taking. I also wear my I’m not drinking pin when I need a break. It is a fantastic pin for our industry as mental health is so important. I have a rule of thumb when making client visits. Three clients visits one drink in each bar. Enjoy the conversation and go home. I would always choose to have one social drink than a few shots.
Any advice for new brand ambassadors?
Advice for newbies. Learn to pack lightly. Learn the spirit import rules for every country you travel too. Learn the rules of etiquette for each country as well. Manners are everything. Be honest. Work hard. It’s not as glamorous as it looks but it is an amazing job. A global entry card works wonder for getting through immigration faster. Always give yourself enough time for connections. Try not to be late. Be respectful. You don’t have to do shots. A global ambassador is about making real relationships with your peers in the industry. If you need help please ask. You are not alone. #rumfamily