Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tortuga Rum Company: Robert and Carlene Hamaty's Dream Come True

Tortuga Rum Cake Factory

     Upon visiting almost any Caribbean Island, you are often presented a glass of rum punch. but there is something else made from the rum of the Caribbean.  Tortuga Rum Cake is known throughout the cruise passenger and tourists, about 21 million visitors to the islands each year get to sample the world-famous delicious Tortuga Rum Cake.

Robert and Carlene Hamaty

     Where did it all start?   The Tortuga Rum Company was started in 1984 by Then Cayman Airways captain and his wife.   As well as his interest in aviation, a growing entrepreneurial spirit led to Captain Hamaty and his wife Carlene setting up the Tortuga Rum Company knowing the value of rum in the Cayman Islands.
     Using a four-generation family recipe, Carlene started baking the first Tortuga Caribbean Rum Cakes. They were a hit and became a popular part of their line, at the duty-free liquor stores.   By 1990 the cakes had gained so much popularity that Carlene and Robert had to open a commercial bakery to keep up with the orders.    Tortuga Rum Cakes are the top export of the Cayman Islands.   They are also the most-purchased souvenir of cruise passengers for the past 10 years.   Varieties from a six-pack of 4-ounce cakes to the big 33-ounce cake can be shipped right to your door.

     The intent was to introduce Cayman Islands rums to the ever-growing cruise business with an eye on Cayman’s tourism development. Later in the 1980s, the first duty-free liquor Tortuga store was opened and Carlene Hamaty – originally of Savannah, Cayman Islands – took an old family recipe, added Tortuga gold rum and created the famous Tortuga Rum cake, which is now shipped to over 70 countries worldwide. There are franchised bakeries in Jamaica, Barbados and the Bahamas.

Tortuga Rum Pot Still

    As a frequent traveler of the Caribbean Islands, I’ve noticed these famous rum cakes in virtually every port that I’ve visited.  This is a very impressive operation that I was thankful to have an opportunity to visit.   I also got to see their first venture into rum distillation in West Bay, Grand Cayman.  The still is a 53 gallon version of the 300 gallon pot still we operate at Hemingway Distillery in Key West.  Great to see them getting into the business of creating their own rums.