The man behind House of Agricole
Rhum Clement USA, Rhum J.M USA & Rhum Damoiseau USA
1) Who is Benjamin Jones?
After some formative years working inside a small micro-brewery, and then working with winemakers creating their brands and launching these brands in the United States, I was inspired to turn my attention to a personal passion for Martinique Rhum Agricole. Because of my family connection to Rhum Clément, it was simple to reach out to my uncle and cousins and ask the question: “why no Clement in the USA?” The answer was challenging and even more motivating. With a lot of great support and encouragement, it is with pleasure to have lead the re-launch of Rhum Clément in the United States, and introduce Rhum J.M and Rhum Damoiseau to the American market.
I am one of many inside of a growing group of people who appreciate fine food and beverage, and appreciate culture. Rhum Agricole is not a new category of rum, but it is a style of rum that has new found appreciation among cocktail and spirit enthusiasts. I am fortunate to work with really exceptional rums with great heritage and the brilliance to challenge the rest of the world to appreciate unique styles of great rum. The rums I work with have strong character and virtue, and I am proud to represent them. I have a unique privilege to work with the great people behind these rums and experience the great care that is invested into how these rums are made. Equally as rewarding is to promote not just a great rum, but also the culture and heritage in which these great brands are woven into. Any great personal achievements that I will have accomplished for the rum industry are in front of me.
3) What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?
Rum is simply the first spirit I have ever tasted. When I tried whiskey, brandy or tequila, I found myself always comparing it to rum. Usually what people grow to love first, remains one’s first true love. What made me fall in love with rum is that it was booze, and forbidden because I was ten years old. It was the family hooch I can readily get my hands on.
4) What is that thing that makes you want to continue in the rum industry?
It has been fun to see a community of cocktail drinkers embrace Ti’ Punch. I want to see Ti’ Punch be a regularly called out cocktail. I also have been impressed by the growing range of Rhum Agricole that has come available in the United States. Lots of new finishes, cuvée’s, new styles, and techniques. We are just scratching the surface. I want to see where this ride goes.
5) Favorite Rum Drink + Recipe?
I am one that believes no one should make their own drink, just as one should not cut their own hair. So if I prepare my own drink, I like it simple like a Ti Punch (my own recipe) or my simplest go to…
2 oz. of 10 Yr. Aged Rhum Agricole
Bar spoon of sugarcane syrup
One large ice cube
If I am not feeling lazy or I am in the company of a good bartender, this drink gets some dashes of bitters and a fat citrus zest (I like grapefruit with aged agricole).
That there is called an Old Fashioned.
Bartender’s out there will also here me call out an El Presidente or Rhum-zerac from time to time.
6) Where do you see the rum industry today and in the next 5 years?
This year is a “Rhum Year”, and the next 5 years will be momentous for the rum industry. I think it is fantastic to see many new rums from all over the United States and around the world hit the market. And we are currently waiting for the flood gates of Cuban rum to open up, which will bring great rum exposure to typical rum drinkers. I sort of expect there to be an “absinthe effect”, meaning many people will try Cuban rum and like it, or not. But the great thing is that they will try rum. When this happens, we expect the pool of Rhum Agricole drinker’s get much deeper and mature a lot faster.
7) Share some (2-3) of your mentors and how they have help you.
I have had great mentors in my previous experiences as well as I have great mentors that I work with today. I have been lucky to be around people who have demonstrated courage, patience, resilience, ethic and diligence. These are some of the qualities necessary to move a heavy rock up a steep hill. Some people have guided by example or with their knowledge, and some people with care and support. There are too many people to narrow down to two or three, but one person that has been with me through the total journey is my wife Lisa. She has been the biggest and brightest mentor and support to me.
8) What 3-5 things do you have in your bucket list for the next 12 months?
Try more rum and keep learning
Blend/create something really cool, maybe different bases of sugar distillates in different casks and/or from different stills?
- Give people greater access to fine rum and help them learn more about great rum
9) Any last words?
Open your mind up and try more rum!