A re-launched rum brand wants to become the “Patron of rums.”
Island Company Rum, which started out initially as an off-shoot of the Island Company resort lifestyle and apparel company back in 2017, had stopped production in 2019 when the original company was being closed down after Hurricane Irma’s destruction, says Spencer Antle, founder and creative director for the Florida-based rum company.
“It started out as a side project,” Antle says. “Then, in 2019, I was closing my lifestyle brand, and then COVID hit.”
Though Island Company Rum remained on the market, its distillation and production was halted for the last two years, and then its reboot was stymied by supply chain issues. Production was re-upped last fall, but it didn’t get bottled or distributed until two months ago. “It has seen 100 percent acceptance by every account we’ve visited since the start of the re-launch,” Antle says. “If an account is visited, they take it on.”
The rum is currently available in Florida, New York, New Jersey and California, but by early next year, distribution should expand to Texas, Massachusetts, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Several resorts, which used to carry his lifestyle apparel line, are interested in carrying his rum.
“I want to be the Patron of rums,” Antle says. “When Patron first came out, they changed the tequila market. I want to disrupt the category.”
What makes Island Company rum different from other gold rums is that it has absolutely no sugar, zero carbohydrates, is only 60 calories per ounce, and it’s distilled five times, he says. “It’s super clean, and it it’s the smoothest rum out there,” he says, adding that he has trademarked the phrase “luxury rum” to describe his rum, which retails for $45. “It also has less calories than vodka or tequila.”
“We have to explain and educate consumers why our rum is different,” Antle says, adding that he usually suggests to people to take what they consider to be their smoothest rum and then taste test it against Island Company. “It’s got this really, super clean taste.”
Antle says he got the original idea for the rum way back in the 90s, when he was living in Venice Beach, but he didn’t actually start developing the rum until 2014, and he and his team worked with a distillery in Trinidad to come up with the exact right flavor profile over the course of one and a half years.
“It was a side project until everyone kept saying ‘This is the best rum I’ve ever tasted,’” Antle says. “It appeals to both rum drinkers and non-rum drinkers. A lot of people say ‘I don’t drink rum, but I will drink this one.’”
It took another year launch production, and it was served at the bars of his clothing stores. When its production began, it won more than a dozen different awards from some of the top spirits contests, including the best gold rum for three years in a row at the Caribbean Journal Rum awards, the best gold rum at the World Beverage Competition and best rum at the New York international Spirits Competition.
“We might enter a few competitions that we haven’t yet already won,” Antle says.
While there’s also interest in Island Company rum apparel, at this point, Antle isn’t planning to come out with a new clothing line or lifestyle brand.
“We’ve been asked to do some installations and pop-ups with bars, but right now, we’re just trying to make sure everything’s in place to role out to different states,” he says. “What’s most important is changing people’s minds. We want to be the pirates of this genre. There hasn’t been a disruption to the rum space in a very long time.”