I heard about Cayrum and the Kane family a while ago thanks to the RumXP group. When I read that a new brand of rum is being produced in Cabarete I had to find out what is behind all that. Mr. Todd Kane spent 30 years in the restaurant industry and now started his own rum brand. It took some time but at the end we got to meet for the following interview.
Can you tell me the story behind Cayrum? How and why did it all start?
I have a house in cabarette for about 7 years where I was playing with different infusions with some friends of mine. We would only do them for the house so when we came down with friends we always had something to offer. People were always saying: “you should sell this in the states” and after hearing it so many times we were (with my son Zach) back in Atlanta talking about it and decided: “ok let move ahead with the idea”.
So we bought 12 different rums like white rum, aged rum, 3 yo, 7yo, very inexpensive, medium priced and premium rum, basically rum from all over (we always made it with Dominican rum since we were here). We got all the ginger and honey and we started testing. Right away white rum was out. Cheap rum didn’t work either. We also found out that the medium priced and expensive ones were giving the same flavor results.
We probably spent around 6 to 9 months playing with that. Once we had the rum we started playing with the amount of ginger and honey to be used in the infusion. We experimented how to cut to ginger (how much surface to expose), so we had again 15 different samples. Afterwards we tried to leave it infuse for 1 week, then 3 weeks, then months until we finally got the right time for it.
It was almost time for Zach’s engagement party when we decided to make a batch of infused rum. There were people in their 50-ties and also 20-ties. Everybody was like: “wow what is this, this is great” and people kept telling us what we should do and so on. We were at the point to decide what will be our next step. We bought a stainless 55 gallon barrel, went to the supermarket and bought 15 cases of 1.5 liter rum, went to the grocery store bought the ginger and honey. At the beginning we bought some cheap bottles online and a friend bartender helped us to make the first label. It was called “Chillixer“ at the beginning . (The house in Cabarette was called Villa Chillax so we called it chillixer). That’s where the US Government stopped us.
We always wanted it to stay the Dominican drink since it was natural. But you had to get through the way it looked (ginger and honey made it clowdy). When we were looking for partners at the beginning everybody wanted to use ginger and honey extracts. This would change the final taste and it just isn’t natural and it took us a while to find somebody who would help us do it the natural way. This is when we met up with señor Jose Antonio Barceló. They couldn’t be more helpful when they said: “look this basically is your distillery, tell us what to do and we are going to do it”. They loved our product.
Victor, the master blender, kept telling us when we filter it the taste is going to be the same. I was really skeptic about this, and when we tasted the filtered product I said: “It doesn’t taste the same, it tastes better!” We cleaned the product and kept the qualities. It’s filtered two times. This way we saved us a lot of time and money explaining why is it so cloudy.
What rum are you using to make Cayrum?
We use a 3 year old rum made by the Barcelo Family.
Did you experiment also with honey? There are many types of honey on the market.
We went directly to top quality since the Barcelo family had some connection on a bee farm in the Dominican Republic. It’s really a natural, top shelf honey and since they can deliver it to us regularly we decided to stick to that one.
You mentioned that in Cabarete the rum is known as Chillixer. How come it is called Cayrum now?
We were in the final phase of our rum bottle the other day in the US. We just had to register our label like everybody else, normally not a big deal. Our label said Chillixer and on the back it said something about being an elixir. An elixir was used back in the Wild West in the 18th century it was mostly like serving opium. So we were told we have to erase the “elixir” from the back and change our name also. So we spent about 3-5 weeks finding that. So we came up with Cayrum. Which is easier to pronounce and it sounds better (thanks to the US government). There is actually an island called Rum Cay somewhere near Bahamas. So this is how the Cay came from and also K, like Kane family.
According to the rum law, when you mix anything with a pure rum alcohol it no longer becomes rum. What impact did that have on your product?
The Kane family was never intended to be on the label, but the Government made us do that. We needed a brand. Since we mixed rum with ginger and honey it is not called rum anymore but as they say it is a “fanciful brand” so that needs a separate name.
Is everything used for exportation or you are going to sell Cayrum also in the Dominican Republic?
We started our first production at the end of 2009 and my intension was not to leave anything in the Dominican Republic and to export everything to the US. But as we met Barcelo they told us they want to be the distributor for Cayrum in the Dominican Republic. We still have to get the label approved over here. There are certain things that have to be done when you want to export it and other things for the local market.
There are a couple interesting things about this project. This project wouldn’t be possible without the internet. The bottles are from Mexico, labels come from a small town in Michigan, the tops are made in Portugal, but come from a supplier in California. The only thing that comes from Dominican Republic, besides the rum, is the plastic that seals the top of the bottle.
What is the best way to drink Cayrum?
We find that the best way to serve is chilled in a chilled shot. It is a great digestive. If you are more a cocktail type we definitely suggest the Spiky – Kiki cocktail.
(The next day Mr. Kane came to the bar to have a drink. So I asked one last thing.)
How does it feel to be the proprietary of a rum brand?
It is a wonderful feeling. I remember sitting in a bar in Cabarette and I heard a person ask for Cayrum. That was great, but you know what was better? When he asked for it the second time!