If you Google the name Gregory McGuire, you will find numerous articles related to his work as one of this country’s top energy economists.

But this is not one of those articles.

This is a story about diversification.

McGuire is now the winner of an international award for his family’s rum cream liqueur.

Makay’s Rum Cream Liqueur captured a gold medal in this year’s Spirit International Prestige (SIP) Awards.

The SIP Awards is a unique judging competition for spirit brands to gain exposure, feedback, and recognition from unbiased consumers as it is a blind tasting competition which allows a level playing field for brands to showcase their products.

There were 482 consumer judges and 981 spirits and mixer brands in this year’s competition

The only other brands from Trinidad and Tobago that received awards this year came from Angostura, including its 1824 rum which captured bronze extra-aged rum category.

But how does an energy economist become an award-winning liqueur producer?

“Yes, I am in energy but I am acutely aware of the need for diversification. And also as an economist I am deeply aware that a lot of us talk things but not necessarily from a practical perspective,” McGuire said.

“And what this venture into Makay’s Rum Cream has given me is practical experience about what it means to take an idea and a micro-enterprise into production, into market and into winning an international award. There is a very rich experience there and a very rich story there that we can tell as a result of this venture,” he said.

This story begins with a hobby.

McGuire loves to experiment in the kitchen and following rave reviews from friends and family about his rum liqueur he decided to take the step forward.

“Everybody loved it so I decided for us to grow organically,” he said.

So he turned his hobby into a business.

The venture began in 2008 when McGuire began to manage and operate family business Feeling Nice Beverages with his son and daughter.

Their first names are the inspiration for the brand Makay.

“This is really rooted in the belief that I have that as a nation we do things here that we take for granted, that we commercialise but at a micro and domestic level but other things we just take for granted,” he said.

“We take a lot of our culinary skills and culinary treats for granted, so the world eats apple pie and I am asking the question why doesn’t the world eat pone. The world eats doughnuts, you have doughnut franchises here so why is it that the world does not eat coconut rolls. The world drinks orange juice and apple juice and portugal juice is easily in my judgment the most exotic juice you can find,” McGuire said.

“So that is a fundamental belief that I have that the things we have here locally can be used to win new markets, to take our place in the world if we were to believe in it, and therefore I believe in it, I believe in my product, I believe in the local content and I think that that is how we find our unique place in the world and that is what we are driving toward,” he said.

“So very early o’clock in the game my intention was to be the best in the cream liqueur business and we’re on that path to be the best in the cream liqueur business,” he said.

McGuire said seeing the hard work being recognised is satisfying.

Makay’s signature ingredient is its unique blend of Grenadian spices , which creates an exotic, refined, and sensuous flavour. Pumpkin purée adds a remarkably smooth texture, making Makay’s Rum Cream a versatile choice for many social occasions or even just as a nightcap.

But mind you it is not Ponche de Crème.

“We existed in an ecosystem where Ponche de Crème is the norm so anything cream in colour is a Ponche de Crème,” McGuire said.

McGuire said he hopes the achievement will also help other micro business owners think globally.

“Believe in what you are doing and believe in the power of your product. Believe in the power of your strategy to go out there and win. Don’t be afraid of the world, don’t be afraid of big people doing big things. We did it you can do it as well, “ McGuire said

McGuire said he hopes this will be a catalyst for more to come.

“What this does is it is a springboard that we can both use to expand our market share domestically and penetrate the international market and that is where we are going,” McGuire said,

“We belief that the future is in the export market. We also are going to launch online platforms very soon that consumers both locally and internationally will be able to purchase the product online because that is the way the world is going and we are right there with them,’ he said.

McGuire said the COVID-19 pandemic hit the company like most others but it also helped creativity.

‘One of our biggest customers has been Caribbean Airlines Duty-Free but without travel things changed. But we have also done a number of innovations with the Rum Cream,” he said.

McGuire said they are inviting consumers to make Makay’s their partner in this time of stay at home

“The tagline is stay in and enjoy your partner for making memories,” he said.

Makay’s comes in three blends: Mellow, Intense and Soursop.