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Anything You Can Do, Rum Can Do Better:
Reimagining Rum With Marc Farrell
by Sara Bavar
“The best ideas come while sipping Rum.”
~ Pavol Kazimir
Ten To One founder, Marc Farrell is introducing the world to his Caribbean heritage one delicious sip at a time. The Trinidad born connoisseur can tell you the secret to mixing the perfect mojito (psst...it’s Ten To One’s White Rum) to the exact blend in a flawless dark rum. Farrell is on a mission to tell the “true story” of rum and change its narrative, from sugary and cartoony, to sophisticated and versatile.
With the onset of COVID causing many bars and restaurants to close or limit their services, Farrell has had to innovate and reimagine how to grow Ten To One. This paved the way to expanding growth through e-commerce, creative partnerships, virtual events, and the launch of a texting hotline for anyone in need of an incredible cocktail recipe.
DLISH had the opportunity to speak with Farrell earlier this month and learn more about the history of Caribbean rum, his inspiration, as well as the future of Ten To One - oh, and don’t ask him which expression of rum he prefers!
Sara Bavar: Can you please tell us a little about yourself?
Marc Farrell: I'm the CEO and founder of Ten To One, a contemporary rum brand that I launched in the summer of 2019 with the goal of changing the conversation around rum, and generally elevating the category. I was born and raised in Trinidad and currently live in New York City.
Ten To One Dark Rum
SB: How was Ten To One born? What was your inspiration?
MF: Growing up in Trinidad, I dreamed of creating a product that genuinely reflected myself and my Caribbean heritage. I’ve always observed a gap between the way in which rum, rum culture and Caribbean culture are brought to life where I'm from, and the way that I typically see rum perceived here in the U.S. That, paired with an entrepreneurial spirit, fueled my desire to launch the brand.
SB: What makes Ten To One Rum special?
MF: We wanted to create something that feels very contemporary and elevated but is still grounded in real, authentic Caribbean heritage. Our Ten To One Caribbean Dark Rum is an eight-year-old blend from four different countries: Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. Three of those rums are column still rums with the exception of the Jamaican, which is pot still. The idea of adding an un-aged pot still rum to the blend was actually fairly unique. Our white rum is a blend of Jamaican pot still rum alongside Dominican column still rum. And certainly, no added sugar, no color, no flavoring. We think that great rum should just stand on its own.
SB: What have been some of the challenges with repositioning rum in the minds of the consumers?
MF: Over time, rum has felt very narrow, a little bit caricatured and somewhat trope-ish outside of the Caribbean, often misrepresented as pirate themes and sugary drinks. I think a lot of consumers in this market don't necessarily approach rum with the same appreciation and reverence as they do some other spirits. When we really reflect on the centuries-long history that rum has had, and the heritage that surrounds the spirit, a lot of it ends up getting lost in these narratives. Ten To One aims to challenge that, tell the true story, and find contemporary yet authentic ways to make consumers feel like rum can be versatile, and part of one’s everyday lifestyle.
SB: You have said that you want to introduce a more ‘contemporary narrative around both rum and Caribbean culture.’ What is that narrative?
MF: There are so many discrepancies between how rum is consumed in the U.S. and how it is In the Caribbean. For us, rum plays a role in so many moments of celebration - big and small, high and low — it’s really a part of the fabric of what we call “The art of celebration”. And for us, that celebration is more than an activity...it’s a frame of mine and a way of life. Here in the U.S., I saw an enormous opportunity to challenge the way rum has historically been perceived, and reinvigorate the way people taste, experience, and talk about the category as a whole. We have this saying -- “anything you can do, rum can do better.”, which speaks to both the elevated and versatile nature of our rums. Unlocking all of these different occasions, all of those different cocktails for the everyday consumer is an opportunity for rum that I think has been untapped in many ways.
Ten To One White Rum
SB: Have you done/will you do any virtual tasting/educational events?
MF: Yes, we’re very open to virtual tastings and events and have been able to host several really successful engagements in recent months; they provide us with opportunities to further tap into new markets and audiences. We also launched our Lime Line back in the spring, which is a texting hotline for anyone seeking cocktails tips, advice, or recipes. Anyone can drop us a line at (718) 400-6987 and we’ll bring you some fun ideas to play around with.
SB: Any plans for future markets?
MF: Yes, we've recently expanded in the Midwest markets as well as Georgia and South Carolina with DC, and others likely to follow later this year.
SB: Do you prefer white or dark rum? Any suggestions for how and when to drink either and how to pair them?
MF: Ha. We currently have two expressions: white and dark, so that’s like asking someone to choose between children!! Both are exceptional blends, that are extremely versatile in their own right, with no added sugar, coloring, or flavoring. You'll often find me drinking our dark rum with a splash of soda water or in a rum old fashioned. And during the summer months, maybe a spicy daiquiri served on the rocks. It's delicious, refreshing, and carries the notes of white rum really well.
SB: What is the most important thing that our readers should take away about rum, especially Ten To One?
MF: The single most important thing that I hope your readers take away about Ten To One, is that it truly is RUM REIMAGINED. We’re so focused and committed to challenging consumer expectations and changing the way they fundamentally perceive the category. Whether it’s the exceptional quality of the blends themselves, the tremendous versatility in their uses, the occasions for which one might consider rum as their spirit of choice, or the various cultural narratives and associations that are tied to it, we’d love to be known as the rum that your readers reference as truly reimagining the space and one that they’re anxious to tell the story of and share with their friends.
Click here to discover more about Marc Farrell and the alluring world of Rum.
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