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Brand Profile: Where Country Meets the Caribbean

Posted on  | April 22, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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Country music powerhouse Kenny Chesney launches Blue Chair Bay Rum.

The list of spirits brands with celebrity endorsements is a long one. And there’s no shortage of famous names who part-own or invest in brands. What makes Blue Chair Bay Rum unique is that it is entirely conceived and created by one Kenny Chesney, eight-time Entertainer of the Year and one of the biggest names in country music today.

“Whenever Kenny isn’t working or touring, he is on a beach somewhere,” says Mark Montgomery, CEO of Blue Chair Bay Rum, Chesney’s newly created spirits brand. “Kenny first had the idea for creating a rum in 2001, with the intention of ‘bottling the lifestyle of the islands,’ the part of the world where Kenny feels most at home. Blue Chair Bay Rum is his creative vision,” says Montgomery. “Kenny has been a rum drinker for a long time and wanted to create a rum that he would enjoy drinking himself, and sharing with friends.”

Having long been inspired by the Caribbean and his ongoing experiences of island-life, Chesney expresses his love of beach, sand and boating in much of his music (“When the Sun Goes Down,” “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems,” “Old Blue Chair”). He says that the rum was “born on the beach” in the Caribbean, and after interviewing a number of distilleries (with the help of New York-based Savvy Drinks, which is lending their expertise to the project), settled on a Barbados-based distillery, one of the oldest in the Caribbean and where rum casks are mellowed on the shore. Master Distiller Mike Booth worked closely with Chesney to develop the exact taste profiles he was looking for.

The collaboration (to say Chesney was involved is an understatement, says Montgomery) resulted in three expressions: Blue Chair Bay Rum White, Coconut and Coconut Spiced. White is a crystal clear 80-proof rum with aromas of vanilla, tropical fruits and a hint of oak. Coconut (Chesney’s personal favorite) and Coconut Spiced are both bottled at 53 proof, with subtle notes of ripe coconut and in the latter, traditional Caribbean spices. They boast a higher alcohol content than most flavored rums, and are “delicious poured straight on ice,” says Montgomery. All three will retail at approximately $17.99-$18.99. “Kenny wants everyone invited to this party, so he’s created a premium line of rums, that are accessible to everyone,” Montgomery says.

Bottling the Island Experience

Kenny Chesney

Just how to package Chesney’s vision and island lifestyle was one of the most challenging aspects of the project, says Montgomery: “We were on Kenny’s boat one day talking about how to bottle up the beach, the air, the water, the lifestyle, and put it into physical form. And then we had the idea to create a bottle that looks like it just washed up on shore; beautiful, but a little distressed.”

While Chesney’s fan base is immense, Blue Chair Bay Rum will speak to a far wider audience. “If you are a fan, you will recognize the Kenny Chesney lyric on the front of the bottle, and see his signature on the back. For a rum drinker who doesn’t know who he is, the package is still appealing,” says Montgomery. “It would be a disservice to make Blue Chair Bay Rum too much about Kenny. Our focus is building a great brand, period.”

Rallying the Fan Base

Blue Chair Bay Rum will be co-sponsoring Chesney’s No Shoes Nation Tour (with Corona Light) and will host pre-concert tailgates and parties in 18 markets this spring and summer. Together with Chesney’s new album, Life on a Rock (April 30th), the No Shoes Nation Tour will reach over 1.25 million fans in stadiums, arenas and outdoor amphitheaters with more than 42 stops across America. “Very few artists put on tours of this size and reach this many people,” says Montgomery. “He is a force on the road.”

Blue Chair Bay Rum also enlisted master mixologist Jonathan Pogash to create signature Blue Chair Bay Rum cocktails, including the Shooting Star, which began as a song reference in Chesney’s new single “Pirate Flag.” As with everything Blue Chair Bay Rum, the art came first. “He wrote the song and Jonathan developed a drink around it,” says Montgomery. “Kenny is one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met, and his commitment to his art—music and now his rum—drives everything.”


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