Entrepreneur launches new Jamaican rum

Most people who know of Chris Blackwell are familiar with the entrepreneur for his successes as a hotelier and record label magnate.

Blackwell, 70, creator of Island Records, wants to add one more descriptor to his resume: rum manufacturer.

His product is called Black Gold, Blackwell's Fine Jamaican Rum. The dark rum will be produced, bottled and distributed by the iconic Jamaican rum producer Wray & Nephew, which at one time was owned and managed by the Blackwell family.

The recipe for Black Gold comes from a family recipe that dates to the Blackwells' 17th Century rum trade efforts. According to Caribbean Business Report, 12,000 bottles will be produced annually, with the first 150 cases already produced and earmarked for advanced sales. It will sell in the U.S. at a suggested retail price of $33.

The official public unveiling of Black Gold is scheduled for two venues in Jamaica -- the Terra Nova Hotel All-Suite on June 9 and Montego Bay's Half Moon Hotel on June 11.

How much chance does a newcomer have in the crowded rum field?

Consider Blackwell's business record. He made worldwide stars of the likes of Bob Marley and signed such recording stars as U2, Roxy Music, Sly & Robbie and Marianne Faithful before eventually selling the Island label to PolyGram. In the hotel field, he has such high-end Jamaican spots as Goldeneye in Oracabessa, The Caves in Negril and Strawberry in rural St. Andrew.

And, consider his partner. Richard Kirshenbaum of the New York advertising agency Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners helped create such brands such as Kenneth Cole, Coach and Snapple and helped reinvigorate Target, Jergens and Moet & Chandon.

Sounds like it has all the earmarks of a successful startup.

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