The owners of the 30,000 litres of iceberg water stolen in Port Union are checking with their insurer to see if it’s covered, but they aren’t watering down the significance of the theft.
“Honestly, at the end of the day it is the part that makes us so special as Iceberg vodka, rum and gin. We view it as priceless,” Iceberg Vodka president and CEO David Meyer said in a telephone interview with The Telegram from North York, Ont., Thursday.
The water was stolen from a warehouse leased from the Coaker Foundation in Port Union and it’s got Iceberg Vodka officials stumped about the motive.
“We were shocked. Honestly we were dumbfounded — we were going, ‘Really, someone took our water? Seriously?” Meyer said.
“It was quite surprising. It’s never happened before. We guard this water as a precious commodity because we only harvest water once a year, so it’s really important to us.”
But Meyer said it won’t set production back, as with the iceberg water the company still has on hand in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the fact it’s close enough to iceberg season now, the quotas can be met for the production of iceberg vodka, rum and gin.
“Thirty thousand litres is a lot of iceberg water for sure, but we harvest a tremendous amount every year, and so we’re OK. We have enough to continue exactly on our production plan for Iceberg vodka, knowing now is February and we do the harvest around June or so,” he said.
“Anyone who has been to Port Union and has seen the outside will see that there are quite a few large tanks where we store our iceberg water and we also have our barge we have for harvesting, and we hold water in the barge as well, so it’s an important amount. … (But) our business is much larger than that. It’s a reasonable amount (of water that’s stolen), but not huge.
He isn’t nervous about what will pan out during iceberg season as they only need two icebergs to show up off the Newfoundland coast to get their water quota for a year’s production.
The one upside to the publicity surrounding the theft is that it boosts how the brand really does use iceberg water in its production, Meyer said.
“The thing that makes iceberg vodka, rum and gin so special is that it’s actually made with iceberg water. We’re the only one in the world to do that because it’s the purest source of water on the planet. It’s a big part of who we are. From an awareness point of view, people are actually going, ‘Oh, Iceberg actually does use iceberg water, so how about that.’ Hopefully there’s a small glimmer of good news that comes in something that’s quite shocking and bad.”
"Other than breaking a pipe, which didn’t take place, we’re very puzzled as to who did this and what they would do with the water.”
As for how the theft went down, he said the company hasn’t had a lot of details.
“Our man in Port Union discovered that the water was missing. We don’t know how or whatever,” Meyer said.
“It was reported to the RCMP and they’re doing an investigation. We’re trying to figure out what the heck happened. … Obviously it’s under lock and key and security. We have people working in the building … The pumps are all on the inside while the tanks are on the outside of the building. Other than breaking a pipe, which didn’t take place, we’re very puzzled as to who did this and what they would do with the water.”
Meyer isn’t ruling out a reward for the return of the water.
“We haven’t even considered that, but yes, we would consider giving a small reward,” he said when asked by The Telegram.
Bonavista RCMP are investigating the theft, which police valued at between $9,000 to $12,000 in a news release Wednesday.
The theft occurred sometime between Friday, Feb. 8, and Monday, Feb. 11.
The water, which was not yet bottled, was taken from inside the building, according to the RCMP release, and was equivalent in volume to fill a tractor-trailer tanker.
An employee with the Coaker Foundation told The Telegram the culprit would have to be familiar with the operation as someone wouldn’t just be able to activate the taps by hand, but would require a large tool.
Trinity Bay North Mayor Shelly Blackmore, who is also involved in the Coaker Foundation, was out of town when the news broke of the caper but said Thursday she feels for the company.
“I’m surprised and disappointed. It’s a unique crime, and disconcerting,” Blackmore said.
Anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact Bonavista RCMP at 709-468-7333.
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