The Tasting Panel magazine

January/February 2015

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Page 9 of 120

january/february 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  7 At The Captain Kidd in Cape Cod, Chai Rum founder Kiran Akal (second from left) is joined by (left to right) John Fleming and owners Jamie and Billy Crowley. Rum and The Kidd Chai Rum was officially launched in Trinidad in February of 2014. It took less than a year to enter the market in six different countries and 11 different states, including Massachusetts, where the history of the region, tea and rum all collide. Before the American Revolution, Massachusetts had more than 60 rum distilleries. Add that to the state's well- documented (and passionate) history with tea, and Akal believes that he's not bringing a new spirit to Boston, just bringing two old friends back. On Cape Cod, Chai Rum has a champion at The Captain Kidd, a restaurant in Woods Hole that dates back over a century. Current owners Billy and Jamie Crowley and their cousin John Fleming worked quickly to find a distributor that saw the potential of the spirit both as a sipping rum and as a mixer. Billy Crowley and Manager Bill Murray are sure Chai Rum will be popular with Captain Kidd's diverse cli- entele. "This is what makes it a different breed: You can sip it neat, you can mix it with cider, you can use Champagne, smoke—it's very versatile. You can reach so many different people." They have plans to sell a Chai Killer (a Chai Rum take on the Painkiller), and of course the Fleming: a combination of Chai Rum, spicy Caribbean ginger beer and bitters. A Unique Experience In the end, Akal wants his Chai Rum to be a memorable experience for everyone who tries it, and with his success in breaking into new markets, it looks like he's on the right track. He's no stranger to creating experiences either: Akal has worked as a creative director for companies such as Walt Disney and Warner Music and has helped create opening ceremonies for the World's Fair. "What people want when they go out is to have a memo- rable experience," he says. "And that's how we bring that customer back. If you have something that triggers an amazing memory in your head, you'll come back. And what does that is something unique." So how did this creative direc- tor—who also happens to be a musi- cian and composer and, incidentally, studied medicine in school—come to bring the unique Chai Rum to the world? He says he's done it by expanding his thinking. "I think they should retire the phrase, 'Jack of all trades, master of none,' because what many companies are realizing is that the broader thinker you are, the big- ger your chances are for having real innovation in your company. Because someone who is interested in philoso- phy and music might actually make a better computer chip." Or a better rum.

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