Blended & Bottled
At just three years old, New England’s most awarded rum brand now has the legs it needs to give it growth.
Photos by Scott Goodwin; food styling by Natasha Taylor
Tucked away behind Salem’s busy Canal Street, something unique is taking place—Rumson’s Rum is blending its barrels of Caribbean distilled rum to perfection. “We don’t just bottle, we blend,” says Eric Glass, president of Pirate Dog Brand LLC, which blends, finishes, and then bottles the Trinidad-sourced rum in its Witch City office. “We’re the only New England player that hand blends Caribbean spirits,” Glass adds. “That substantiates our growth.”
And growing is just what the brand is doing. In fact, Rumson’s Rum is New England’s most awarded rum brand, having received 20-plus national awards from competitions such as BevX, The Fifty Best, Ultimate Spirits Challenge, and more, since its launch in December 2014. This helped to give the three-year-old brand its legs to expand on, so to speak, says Glass.
With distribution already established in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Rumson’s Rum is branching out nationally and internationally, including in the Czech Republic, where, as of early October, the brand’s rum can be found in restaurants and in Metro, the Costco of the Czech Republic. And in early November, Rumson’s Rum launched in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Closer to home, distribution in Connecticut and New Jersey will be finalized by next spring, and New York and Texas are also being looked into, with plans to move further west after that, Glass says.
Additionally, Rumson’s, named for Glass’s four-legged companion, a beautiful brindle-colored Boxer, is in the process of changing some operational aspects of the business, including indroducing new bottles. Currently, Rumson’s has a round bottle and a square bottle, but will soon have a hybrid of the two, set to launch by spring/mid-June, complete with the brand’s signature logo, a boxer (instead of a skull), designed to look like Rumson and Glass’s other boxer, Goliath, who sadly passed this past June, with crossbones underneath to honor the Caribbean culture that Glass loves so much in a fun, “Johnny Depp from Pirates of the Caribbean” type of way.
The warm-weather season could also bring with it some additional flavored rums, says Glass, who co-owns the brand with his second cousin (once removed) Steve Orne, such as ginger and coconut, as well as the possibility of the more cocktail-friendly white and gold rum, “to compete with other brands.” Rumson’s, he adds, typically deals largely in aged rums and doesn’t play in these other markets, so he will have to first make sure the new rums will match the caliber of the brand’s other offerings—Grand Reserve, Aged Rum, Spiced Rum, and Coffee Rum—do. Glass plans on going to check out sources in the Trinidadian distillery where Rumson’s rums originate from this spring.
Trinidad was chosen as the source of Rumson’s Rum because the rums there are of a high caliber that have that “big and bold English style” that Glass, who has been sipping rums for 20 years and whose warehouse collection includes over 100 bottles, enjoys. Plus, Glass says, there are a ton of rums to play with, and the country is easy to work with because of its free trade agreement with the U.S.
The brand is also considering the launch of RTDs (ready-to-drinks) and could possibly partner up with Salem-based Powell & Mahoney, Lynn-based Bent Water Brewing Co., and Ipswich Ale Brewery. “We always try and leverage locally when we can,” says Glass, adding that Rumson’s often partners up with Powell & Mahoney at events that call for cocktails, something the brand is very good at concocting, including Rumson’s Coffee Eggnog Flip (see recipe below), the perfect drink to cozy up by the fireplace with this holiday season.
“Most cocktails come from experimentation,” Glass says, “or, by taking old, traditional cocktail recipes and putting a spin on them, such as the Bark and Pour Me, a spin on the Goslings trademarked Dark and Stormy. Rumson’s mixes rum and ginger and then floats its spiced rum on top. [We create] drinks we think we might like, driven by contacts and leveraging local players,” says Glass, adding that Rumson’s plans to do more in the Salem warehouse next year and more hyper-locally, now that sales are ramping up.
Rumson’s has big plans for 2018, but, Glass clarifies, nothing has been locked down just yet. The goal, he says, is to deplete all the brand’s remaining bottles of rum around the same time to be able to make the switch to the new bottles. Rumson’s will also have to get label approvals and formula approvals if new flavored rums are created.
So, for now, Rumson’s will continue doing what it does best—being the only New England player that is leveraging hand-blended Caribbean rums.
“Everyone else is doing home brewing, and has gone the farm-to-table route,” Glass says. “The distiller we use in Trinidad has been around for hundreds of years, and most locals there are drinking younger rums, so there are tons of barrels sitting there aging for people like me. What I can do here [brewing my own locally] is different than what I can do with this rum. It would be cool [to home brew], and I’ve done it a handful of times but it wasn’t the type of rum we wanted to make. We’re doing this on purpose.”
Rumson’s Coffee Eggnog Flip
Makes one drink
> 1 1/2 oz. Rumson’s Coffee Rum
> 3 oz. Hood Golden EggNog
> 1 oz. Bent Water Brewing Co.’s Jolene Porter
1. Shake rum and eggnog with ice and strain into a martini glass.
2. Top with porter.
4 Florence St., Unit 3, Salem