Serious Eats: Drinks
We Chat with Kenny Chesney About His New Rum
We've interviewed bartenders and distillers, brewers and winemakers, but it's not that often that our questions go to a musician who has sold over 30 million albums. But Kenny Chesney recently launched his own rum brand, Blue Chair Bay Rum, which will be sold at Chesney's tour venues (as well as at stores and bars nationwide.) It's being distilled at the West Indies Rum Distillery in Barbados, also known for producing Cockspur and Malibu, and is available as a white rum as well as a coconut and coconut spiced version.
We wondered why Kenny Chesney chose rum and how involved he actually was in shaping the product. Here's what he had to say.
Thanks for chatting with us! Why did you decide to launch a rum line?
I'd been approached by a few companies about doing a rum, but everything I tasted didn't taste like something I'd really want to drink. I had a definite idea about what I'd want a rum to taste like. So I decided the best way to create that rum was to do it myself.
Have you always been a rum drinker?
Pretty much. It's probably the mellowest spirit—and I'm not sure if I'm a connoisseur, but I've tried a lot of different kinds over the years. Certainly (I've tried) enough to know what I like.
What stages of the development of the rums were you involved in? Walk us through your role in the process.
From the very beginning, the idea of 'let's do this...' We built a team to help realize that notion, and I've had extensive meetings with them about vision. I spent time in Barbados with Mike Booth, tasting and tweaking. I was involved in the decision to use the West Indies Distillery, the glass that we're using for the bottles... all of it. It was exciting to learn a new business, and explore something I truly enjoy drinking.
What differentiates this rum from others, in your opinion?
I guess that it's the exact rum I wanted to drink. Even the flavored spirits, which are a little lower in alcohol, taste like the things they're flavored with... It's very natural tasting. With the coconut spice, we were trying to do something that—at that point—hadn't been done. I wanted a high quality rum that would be the rum I'd want to drink and serve my friends, something that was perfect for a great hang with people I like. And it's funny, the white rum actually has won a few gold medals, which wasn't something I was thinking about either.
How do you like to drink it?
Because they are so natural tasting, they're great plain over ice. Probably I'm most likely to drink it in a diet Red Bull, but you can do so many things with them. Jonathan Pogash has created some great drinks—though I'm not likely to work that hard for myself.
How much of the rum has been produced? What are your goals in terms of expansion?
We sold out of our initial production almost before it hit market. You never know, but people seem to like Blue Chair Bay Rum. With the tour, I'm not counting the cases, but it's crazy.