We had the good fortune of connecting with Benjamin Taylor and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Benjamin, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I had a 22 year career with a large multinational and had always wanted my own business but the right idea never came along. Rum had always been a hobby of mine and in 2012 I visited the Caribbean island of St. Kitts and became good friends with a local family that back in the 70’s had purchased a sugar plantation estate that held the first land grant by the British in the Caribbean (1625). They were lovingly restoring the property and uncovered a rum distillery that had been buried underground for years. We later discovered it to be the oldest surviving rum distillery in the Caribbean, dating back to 1681. The big question then was, ‘Where is the rum’. So we set about figuring out how to bring rum production back to the island and the site. We are majority locally-owned and started the business in 2018, at the end of 2020 I left my corporate job and in June 2021 we bottled our first bottle of Old Road Rum.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Grateful for a long and varied career at L’Oreal, the French Beauty giant. Worked in several VP roles in Sales, Marketing and Brand Management in the UK and US. The company is known for encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit and I think that has helped me with my new journey. I think the most important time, as well as the most difficult, was working on the new business in any spare time I could get my hands on, alongside the demanding corporate job. These are the moments at the beginning when you just have to stop thinking about it and find ways to just do it. After that, it’s still going to be challenging but you’ve already pushed off from the shore and have momentum. The one thing that made it easier to start then and worthwhile to continue to do what it takes now is having a higher purpose than just wanting to make some money. For us we want to build something real that will last, help the local community and story-tell in a responsible way: The Old Road Rum Company exists to bring rum production back to the island of St. Kitts and help regenerate the Old Road Town and wider St. Kitts community.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If you’re looking for an authentic Caribbean experience then St. Kitts & Nevis is hard to beat. Live reggae at Shipwreck Bar every Sunday afternoon. All night Friday night action at Zanzi’s and Mr X’s Shigiddy Shack. Volcano hikes on both islands. Speedboat over to Nevis for drinks at Sunshines, Chrishi Beach Club or The Four Seasons – or dinner at Bananas or Luna. Visit the Alexander Museum on Nevis. Distillery Tour & Rum Tasting at the Old Road Rum Distillery, St. Kitts – followed by drinks at Alfee’s Bar.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
An incredibly committed and diversley-skilled team: Maurice The Experienced Chairman, Jack The Energetic Entrepreneur and Tom The Creative Genius. Supportive family and friends.
Industry Mentor: Ian Burrell, The Global Rum Ambassador (and the rest of the Rum Family).
The people of St. Kitts & Nevis.