Interview with Toby Beall – Founder and master distiller of Tailwinds Distilling Company

Toby Beall

Founder and master distiller of Tailwinds Distilling Company

1) Bucket List items for this year.

  1. To expand Taildragger rums in to several new markets including California, Arizona, and Texas
  2. Complete the expansion on the distillery to increase production and sales about 6 times
  3. Stop flying planes all over the world and spend more time with my family
  4. Start traveling more for fun again. I am due for trips back to Belize, Barbados, Brazil … well many places.
  5. Race and win the Baja 1000

2) What is the biggest achievement you personally feel you have accomplish for the rum industry

I am humbled to get asked this question with so many trying help make rum a well-respected spirit. My brother Jamey and I have worked hard to help turn people back to rum even if it is one person at a time. Like others I am trying to break the pirate and party spirit stereotype that is cast by a few major players in U.S. market, but also try to educate consumers on several key things: Do not judge a rum by its color- it says nothing about age or character.  The more raw the spirit the more you win- some of the most beautiful white rums and cachacas have foregone the carbon/ chill/ or heavy filtering. Not all rums are sweet- which sort of takes us back to the first point.   We have built our Taildragger rums around these very characteristics.

3) Favorite Drink + Recipe

Perfect for fall/winter

Drink #1: Mayan Mocha
Ingredients and Method: 

  • 2oz of Taildragger Coffee Flavored Rum over ice in rocks glass.
  • 4 dashes of Aztec Cocoa bitters
  • Top with Italian Sweet cream and stir
  • Peel of Orange for garnish

Drink #2: Taildragger Fall Colors Old Fashioned
Ingredients and Method: 

  • Smoke a block of Hickory under a rocks glass
  • In separate glass Muddle orange slice, cinnamon and organic cane sugar
  • 2 dashes of orange bitters
  • 1 dash of angostura bitters
  • 2 oz of Taildragger Amber Rum and stir
  • Add ice ball to smoked glass and cover it
  • Pour the old fashioned over the ice ball slowly replacing the smoke in the glass


4) Where do you see the rum industry today and in the next 5 years?

We have just paddled out and can see this swell beginning to rise. I think the coming rum wave will be one stay for long while due to rum’s rich history. It is amazing to be a part of a spirit made in so many different countries which in turn gives us so many different expressions. Due to this Bartenders are finding applications limitless for this versatile spirit. The resurgence of tiki culture has played great part as well. Consumers are taking notice as they are able to identify with greater selection of smaller independent brands and see that rum is not so scary…The Pirates have left, it is safe to get back in the water. The next 5 years are going to be exciting.

5) Share some (2-3) of your mentors and how they have helped you.

  1. Michael Delevante- Former distillery manager for Appleton Estates and founder of Delevante and Associates. Getting a rum distillery off the ground on a small budget can make for many sleepless nights. Michael was always there with words of encouragement through late night emails or phone calls. He would analyze our yields and let me know that we were right were we needed to be. I owe a great deal of our technique to this man and I am glad to call him a friend.
  2. Bahama Bob Leonard- The smiling face behind The Rum Bar, Key West and for many he is the guide of their first journey into rum. He is a master behind creating new applications for rum and driving the industry forward. Catch his blog or at least follow his adventure on Facebook. Not since Paul Newman have I seen so many ladies want to have their picture taken with someone as Bob.
  3. Jillian Beall- Tailwinds Distilling’s Brand Ambassador, Taildragger girl on the bottle and my wife.  It’s rare for a wife to allow her husband to be away from home for more than half of the month then constantly push him to bring his dreams to life which in turn means even less time at home. I am so proud of her hard work and how much she has advanced our brands.

6) Any last words?

Keep educating! It is really making a difference. From producers to RUMLAB to ambassadors to aficionados to bartenders to the consumer, making sure that the category gains integrity rests on us telling the true rich stories of the rum in their glass.

7) Learn more about Toby Beall?

Toby Beall is the founder and master distiller of Tailwinds Distilling Company in Plainfield, Illinois. Along with creating the award winning Taildragger Rums and Tailwinds Agave spirits, Toby is also a commercial pilot with over 10,000 hours in jet aircraft, performance driving instructor, musician and father of three boys. It was his travels as pilot that led him to the rums of The Caribbean, South and Central America. Built on a shoestring budget Tailwinds Distilling Company is now in its fourth year. Toby has truly made this a family adventure involving everyone close to him.  Personal quote “You can’t tell me that it CAN’T be done.”

Instagram: @rumrunner24

Author: Fede

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