You don't have to be a pirate to be excited that today is National Rum Day.
And you may be even more excited to learn that this time next year you will be able to celebrate this special day with your own bottle of Daufuskie Island Rum, distilled right on the scenic 5,000-acre barrier island.
Tony Chase, CEO of Daufuskie Island Rum Co. LLC, admits his distillery venture began as a hunt for beachfront property.
"I began the process a little over a year ago," Chase says. "I was looking to buy a beach house. I probably looked at over 300 houses all up and down the coast. I ended up buying a place in Daufuskie in October. During my time at the house from April until now, I came up with the idea to create a distillery in Daufuskie."
Chase admits that being from Kentucky he is used to living in a place surrounded by distilleries. But starting his own liquor business was a new experience for this pharmacist and businesses owner.
"It's a pretty in-depth process," Chase explains. "First you have to have a state license and a federal license. A micro-distillery license is less expensive. But that license has some ups and downs.
"One of the bonuses of that license is that you can sell your product onsite at the micro-distillery. The downside is that there is a cap on production. But the cap is 1.5 million fifths per year. That's more than enough for us," Chase says.
"In the U.S., 189 million bottles of rum are sold each year. We just need a small piece of that."
Chase hopes to get the first bottle of white rum out in January. He also has 10 acres of land on the island that he wants to use to grow sugarcane to use in his product, too.
"The building we plan to use as the distillery will have an island look to it with a 500-square foot front porch with rocking chairs. The building is 2,000 square feet," Chase explains. "That's the initial size we will start at with the sincere hope to out-grow that. One hundred and twenty thousand bottles per year would max out the facility."
Chase says the white rum will debut first because it is quick to make.
"It takes about one week from start to finish. Gold rum takes a little longer, and we plan to age our gold rum in oak barrels. Actually, we are going to use Kentucky bourbon barrels which will give the rum a unique taste and color. That process takes about six months."
And Chase says he wants this to be a 100 percent American made business.
"I insist on everything we have from the building materials, to the bottles and the products we sell to be products made in the USA. The first bottles we got, I noticed they were made in France so I sent those back. The bottles we plan to use are made in New York."
Even though not a single drop of Daufuskie rum has been produced, the company is gaining a lot of attention through Daufuskie Island Rum Company's Facebook page and the adventures of Shotty, a Daufuskie rum shot glass whose travels have been featured on the company's social media page.
"We want to get him to travel to all 50 states," says Chase, who admits he has enlisted the help of friends to take Shotty on their travels.
"Many businesses have reached out to me to sell our product in their restaurants, too," he adds. "What really validated this for me is the fact that I could have financed all of this on my own, but I decided to sell investments. I already have over 75 percent sold to investors."
And it's not just outside investors who are excited about the new rum venture. Daufuskie Island businesses and homeowners have reached out to Chase to show their support, too.
"Everyone on the island is a buzz about it."