Tortuga expands distribution

Gemini Spirits & Wine, one of the fastest growing developmental brand builders in the United States has become the exclusive importer for Tortuga Rums of the Cayman Islands.


President/CEO, Sazerac Company Inc. with Robert Hamaty, Tortuga Rum Co. Ltd. Photo: Submitted

In 2006 Majestic Distilling in Lansdowne Maryland introduced Tortuga Gold Rum and Tortuga Light Rum into the U.S.; and in August 2007 launched Tortuga flavored rums – Tortuga Coconut, Tortuga Banana and Tortuga Spice. This new relationship with Gemini Spirits & Wine will utilize Gemini’s industry expertise and extensive sales network to expand the Tortuga brand’s early success in the U.S. market.

“We are extremely pleased to take on U.S. distributorship of Tortuga Rums,” said Ken Kwarta, VP/General Manager for Gemini Spirits & Wine. “Rum is a growth category and we foresee substantial opportunity to grow Tortuga, building on the success the Tortuga brand has achieved in the Caribbean islands. The consumer awareness resulting from the Tortuga Rum Cake business in the U.S. will assist in our development of the Tortuga Rum brand, which in its own right is well known to the more than two million annual visitors to the Cayman Islands.”

Gemini Spirits & Wine Company has a long tradition of bringing fine wines and spirits from around the world to discriminating consumers in the United States. Founded in 1934, the company’s early years were focused on importing exceptional French wines. A major departure took place at the 1964 World’s Fair when the company launched Yago Sangria, which became the first 2 million case imported brand in the U.S. PepsiCo acquired the business in 1972, giving PepsiCo rights to Stolichnaya, a 10,000 case brand at the time, and other respected brands such as Concha y Toro. The company flourished; during 1977-79, it was the only U.S. wine importer to have five 100,000 case brands. The company was also building Stolichnaya into a great brand during that period; by 1993, Stoli was 1.2 million cases. In early 1994, U.S. distribution rights for Stoli were moved to Carillon as a result of industry changes.

After over 60 years of continued success, the New Orleans-based spirit company Sazerac acquired the company in 1994. Sazerac is a privately held, family owned business. Gemini Spirits & Wine Company is headquartered and run from its offices in Chicago, Illinois. See

“This new relationship is an excellent springboard for the Tortuga Rum brand,” says Robert Hamaty, founder and managing director of Tortuga Rum Company, Ltd. “Gemini Spirits & Wine has a long tradition of building successful brands in the American market. We believe that Tortuga is an excellent fit into their brand portfolio and look forward to being their next success story.”

In 1984, Hamaty and his wife Carlene, started the Tortuga Rum Company, introducing the Cayman’s first private label rums to appeal to the tiny islands’ growing tourist market. Today the company is the largest duty-free and retail liquor business in the Cayman Islands. Its premium and flavored Tortuga Rums are specially developed, private blends of Jamaican and Barbados rums and a favorite souvenir of the millions of cruise passengers and other visitors who come to the Caymans each year.

Tortuga Rum Company, Ltd. is a family owned and operated business headquartered in Grand Cayman, B.W.I. with franchise bakeries in Jamaica, Barbados and the Bahamas. In Grand Cayman, Tortuga offers over a dozen premium and flavored rums and Tortuga rum liqueurs as well as all major brand-name liquors. In addition to its award winning rums, the company is known for its world famous Tortuga Caribbean Rum Cakes, the #1 export of the Cayman Islands and named 2008 “Best Cruise Souvenir” by Porthole Cruise magazine for the fourth consecutive year.

Tortuga Imports/Tortuga Rum Cake Company, named as one of the INC5000 fastest growing private companies in America, handles worldwide distribution, food service, mail order and online sales from Miami, Florida. See