22 Feb, 2024
20-21 March 2024
10 April 2024
4 March 2024
New England’s most awarded rum brand coming to London Spirits Competition 2018. Here is the story of Rumson's:
An evangelist is a zealot who seeks to convert others to his or her religion. Some employ aggressive tactics, while others are more subtle in their approach. Eric Glass, president (and Master Blender) of Rumson’s, falls into the latter camp. His religion is making rum—and once you sample one of his four gospels, you’ll be a resolute devotee.
The clean-shaven, soft-spoken founder of this young but rapidly growing Salem, Massachusetts–based business dons horn-rimmed glasses as well as a black baseball cap and polo shirt bearing his trademark boxer-and-crossbones logo. And he loves what he does. If Rumson’s slogan doesn’t convince you (“Life Lived, Life Enjoyed”), their products will. There is a flavor for every palate.
“I convert people with this one,” the aptly named Glass says, as he hands me—a connoisseur of Glenlivet, Balvenie, and Oban—a tumbler of his Grand Reserve. It is a clear amber spirit hand blended and finished in the 3,200-square-foot rum house off Canal Street. This 80-proof nectar can flavor classic cocktails like daiquiris and mojitos, but to truly savor its fullness, sip it straight or on the rocks. The floral bouquet is prodigious and plenteous. It tastes of molasses and caramel—rummy in the middle with a smooth, oaky, earthy finish. It is comparable to Zacapa and Diplomático, but Rumson’s is less sweet and not nearly as hot.
The full-bodied Grand Reserve, like all of Rumson’s offerings, is made from Trinidadian rum whose chief ingredient is blackstrap molasses. (Rum made from sugar cane tends to be hotter and not as complex.) Being a blend, it is comprised of assorted vintages aged five to 23 years.
You will not see a number on the front of the bottle, though, as with top-shelf scotches. What you will find is the brand’s logo: the aforementioned boxer and crossbones. In fact, it was the logo that spawned the business, and not the converse.
Glass worked in the consumer healthcare industry for 15 years. He quit his job in February 2012. Realizing it was no longer what he wanted to do, the Salem State University and Bentley MBA grad went to distilling school. The decision to be a rum maker combines three of Glass’s passions: spoofy romanticized pirate movies like the Pirates of the Caribbean series, the Bahamas, which he frequents yearly, and his dogs—boxers named Goliath and Rumson.
The logo was designed in 2009 with the help of Glass’s brother-in-law, graphic designer Keven Cintron (element6 Creative Group). In place of the signature white skull of the pirate flag is man’s best friend. Glass quips that a young boy, who recently saw the logo emblazoned on his Mini Cooper said, “Look at that! He makes dog poison!”
Though not the drink of canines, it is quickly becoming the “poison” of rum aficionados everywhere. Rumson’s was officially launched December 2014 but has already received the adulation of critics as well as some prominent awards. The Grand Reserve, for instance, won back to back double gold medals for best-aged rum from The Fifty Best. Rumson’s Aged Rum won gold and double gold in the same competition.
The aureate accolade bestowed upon the Aged Rum is merited. This smooth, lighter-colored libation begins with spice and pepper flavors and builds to an oaky, caramel finish with a touch of raisins. The center of the palate enjoys a protracted ascent of floral, earthy notes. The warmth is reminiscent of cognac, but the delicate distilling process avoids the burn one customarily finds incomparable hard spirits. Some ice and a touch of water makes this predominately five-year-old offering smoother.
Since its birth nearly 3 years ago, Rumson’s market-based has expanded rapidly. It is readily available at bars and liquor stores throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire and Rumson’s just expanded internationally into the Czech Republic and British Columbia. Glass hopes to break into additional state and country markets soon. His long-range goal, of course, is to be a competitive international brand. If the current rate of growth is any indication, Glass will get his wish. What makes this even more impressive is that, currently, Rumson’s is only a three-person operation.
Glass’s cousin, fellow Marbleheader Steve Orne, is the company’s vice president and Glass’s business partner and right-hand man, while Alyse Barbash is driving sales and consumer engagement. Glass foresees hiring a couple more “ambassadors” as the company burgeons. At that point, Barbash will assume a leadership role.
Along with being the top dog (pun intended) who manages all staff, Glassworks the barrels, and machinery in the rum-house. “I am not a mixologist,” he claims. “I’m a rum maker.” Glass strives for consistency. This year’s batch will taste the same as next year’s. He achieves this by matching barrels based on flavor profile and chemical composition.
If he isn’t distilling the Aged Rum or the Grand Reserve, Glass is busy with Rumson’s other delicacies: their Spiced Rum and Coffee Rum. When casual rum drinkers hear the phrase spiced rum, they immediately think Captain Morgan, Bacardi, or Sailor Jerry. Rumson’s Spiced Rum is a step up. Filled with vanilla and butterscotch flavors, the Spiced Rum, which finishes with a combination of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon, is Rumson’s best seller.
The spirits market is dominated by Captain Morgan and Bacardi. Combined, they own two-thirds of the rum market and account for 15 percent of all spirit sales in the United States. That is mammoth, but expected of corporate production: quantity is the modus operandi. Rumson’s is quality and consistency. Currently, Rumson’s capacity lies between 30,000 and 50,000 six-pack boxes per year. They plan to quadruple this next year as they expand into other regions.
The Coffee Flavored Rum is one that people typically love or hate. It is a superior alternative to popular liqueurs such as Kahlúa. The nose of the former is reminiscent of the latter, though it is far more robust. When it comes to piquancy, however, there is no comparison. Rumson’s Coffee Flavored Rum, which is made with Columbian arabica coffee, is richer, fuller, and simply more succulent than Kahlúa. Rumson's is voracious in boasting: “As a mixed drink or neat, this spirit will please the most discerning palate. Rumson’s Coffee Rum is smooth and sweet, with a warm roasted coffee flavor, a hint of vanilla, and a decadent buttery finish.” Superlatives become euphemisms when trying to describe the flavor of this exquisite rum. It is strong but hangs on the back of the tongue—warm and syrupy. It burns a bit but is by no means overpowering.
So am I a convert? After tasting the heaven that is Rumson’s, I will certainly add it to my spirits of choice. If nothing else, Glass has made my palate far more ecumenical than it was before I met him. I am grateful. Amen.
John Tamilio III, PH.D.
International and Domestic Submission deadline is February 22. If you are looking to grow your brand in 2024, looking for product feedback, or looking to get in front of real trade buyers. It's time to enter your brands in the London Competitions. Here's how to enter, costs and benefits.