Updated: Nov 21, 2020
First time I contacted Ben Jones was when he was in Toronto a few years ago, giving a rum presentation at a whisky festival. I sent him a message and asked if he was interested in doing a small event in a downtown bar for a group of rum enthusiasts. He answered with a resounding YES! What followed was a masterclass in rhum agricole and St Lucian rum by a very passionate rum expert. Everyone in attendance was buzzing, including Ben in the end.
He decided to come back for another event with Jeff Berry. The crowd was even bigger this time and afterwards Jeff said:"we talked for several hours without a script and nobody got up and left. I've never witnessed that anywhere". The love between Ben, Jeff and the Toronto rum crowd is definitely mutual.
Therefore it makes total sense to get some more rum insights from Ben Jones....
Can you briefly introduce yourself please?
My name is Ben Jones and I am Spiribam’s Director of North America. I came into the rum industry after brief stints with a small craft brewery doing mainly production type of work; and with an Italian wine company doing product & brand development and launched their export sales to the United States. With the combination of this experience and my passion for my family’s roots into Martinique’s culture, I explored fervently the opportunity to bring Rhum Clement to the USA.
I suppose I should explain that my mother is originally from Martinique and I had travelled there a few times when I was a child. The founder of Rhum Clement was my great uncle. My cousin, whom we were visiting, was the distiller and director of the habitation/distillery. I embraced the Martinique culture and was struck by the convivial mood as well as the ritual of the Ti’ Punch.
Being born into a rum producing family, were you always destined to work in the family business? Did you feel any pressure? Didn’t you want to be a fireman instead?
I never had pressure or expected to be in the rum business growing up. Clement was a strong local brand in Martinique and in France. I never imagined I would be involved as I am today. Furthermore I am very fortunate and excited to see how my initial inquiry for importing Rhum Clement has blossomed into creating Spiribam, the brand management company that houses our own proprietary rum brands produced by our distilleries.
What does a working day in the life of Ben Jones look like?
This year life is quite different than previous years to say the least. I used to travel about 50% to 60% of the working year visiting our key customers, working with our distilleries to develop new products or work on the evolution of our existing brands, participating in many consumer and trade events, and delivering as much education as possible to the world to develop the universe for authentic premium rum.