Renowned as the original producers of rum made from sugar cane, Barbados can now boast of another spirit—vodka made from sweet potatoes—‘Katspraddle’. Suitably named after a Bajan term meaning “to fall hard” or “to leave one floored”, this distilled alcoholic beverage is the brainchild of Raymond Thompson.
Unofficially launched in 2019, the spirit lends to Barbados’ rich history as a recognized manufacturer and exporter of fermented goods, with alcoholic beverages accounting for over $12 million in exports for the year 2021. As rum production continues to play an integral role in the sustainability of the economy, conceptualizing ideas and developing an export market for the globalisation of a similar local product appears to be the way to go. And while the production of a vodka from a small Caribbean country is rare, this innovation could be the start of a trend which sees Barbados further recognised internationally for its diverse biotech space.
Like most inventions, Katspraddle Premium Sweet Potato Vodka, came to be from an indeliberate act. Toiling as a plant attendant by day and fermenter by night, Raymond, who has an electronic manufacturing background, attempted to turn sweet potato into fuel, but was inspired by its aromatic fragrance to turn it into something palatable. After numerous mishaps, procuring a sweet potato farmer, taste testing and packaging, the vodka was now ready for public consumption.
The master distiller said he had plans to have Katspraddle distributed locally, and on every supermarket and bar shelf. He noted that the opportunity for export of such a product required hard work, and he was pleased to collaborate with Export Barbados (BIDC) to bring these plans to fruition.
“The use of biotech to create a product that can compete on the international scene is an opportunity most entrepreneurs seek, and I am glad that Export Barbados (BIDC) has mechanisms in place to make the success of this product a reality. This is the prime time for us as a country, to not only focus on biotechnology to help lift the economy, but to take advantage of the numerous opportunities to manufacture locally and diversify our export portfolio,” Raymond said.
As Barbados continues to churn out its beloved rum in high numbers yearly, consumers, local and international, are seeking new ways to enjoy spirits and like its ‘big brother’ rum, Katspraddle has been recognized internationally for being of a high quality. Recently the vodka was awarded Silver at the 2021 International Wine and Spirits Competition held in the United Kingdom. Appreciated for its “super vegetal style”, judges were reminded of the potent fermenting capabilities of this 166-square mile rock.
And what better time to launch such a product! With the advancement of biotechnology on island and the recent rebranding of BIDC to Export Barbados, it is keen on creating, nurturing and exporting like goods. Katspraddle has the potential to be a strong competitor in the international vodka market. Barbados is already the undisputed birthplace of rum, and while the sugar industry has declined, sweet potatoes are plenteous and waiting to ‘Katspraddle’ you.
Harvested by a local farmer of 35 years and refined by a team of now vodka connoisseurs, whether it’s a night out with the girls sipping Cosmopolitans or taking shots with the guys, once Katspraddle Premium Vodka is in your glass, it will be an experience you won’t soon forget.