A Rum for Your Money
Zach Brinley introduced Brinley Gold, his family’s premium flavored rum, to Florida last year, and already it’s in such hot spots as the Rum Barrel in Key West, the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando and Blu Sushi in Naples.
“The reception in Florida has been fantastic,” says Brinley, who divides his time between the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, where the family’s rum distillery is, and his office in Hoboken, N.J. “Florida is a cocktail-heavy and rum-heavy culture,” he says.
Brinley Gold rum has only been around since 2002, after Brinley’s family bought a failing distillery in St. Kitts and brought in Michel Joly, a French winemaker who had been trying his hand at making rum in the Caribbean. The Brinleys’ first product was vanilla rum. It won a gold medal at the International Rum Festival in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the same year it was introduced.
Brinley recalls the near-disastrous first show. They had just barely started shipping out of the Caribbean. In fact, they were one of the first to export internationally from St. Kitts. They shipped several cases through air freight and packed four bottles in their suitcases. They arrived for the show, but their shipment did not, leaving them with only three bottles for tastings and one for the judges’ table. Brinley says that by day two the rum was gone and he was sweating — with still one day left. But word on the show floor was that the Brinley rum was so good it was gone in a day and a half. That and the gold medal, he says, launched the product.
Brinley has added mango and lime to the company’s product line, which includes coffee and coconut. He boasts all natural flavors in his rums — from vanilla imported from Madagascar to coffee and mangos from Brazil and limes from Tahiti. Brinley Gold rums are 72-proof, almost double what you’d typically find on liquor store shelves, and sell for about $20.