Rum connoisseur interview of the week: Export Sales Manager for Worthy Park Estate producers of RumBar Rums.

 

Alexander Kong

    Export Sales Manager for Worthy Park Estate producers of RumBar Rums.

 

1) Who is Alexander Kong

I’ll give you the short version – born and raised in Mississauga, Ontario Canada; I moved back to my “ parental” (both my mother and father’s side are from Jamaica) homeland after graduating from the University of Guelph where I majored in Hospitality. Over the course of the next 10 years, I worked through various departments (Food and Beverage, Front Office, Guest Relations etc.) in different operations in Jamaica, Turks and Caicos and Florida. Which brought me to my current role as Export Sales Manager for Worthy Park Estate. You can say I’ve moved from one side of the bar to the other!

I love living in Jamaica, and when not immersed in rum you can find me in my second favorite spot in the house, the kitchen.

2) What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?

Well, since my family is from Jamaica I pretty much grew up spending my summer and/or Christmas holidays in Jamaica. It was only natural that, when I was old enough, of course, I was introduced to Jamaican rum. Let’s just say I had a lot of older uncles and cousins that “ tutored” me in how to drink a rum. The social scene in Jamaica is much different and a lot of the “all-inclusive” parties that happen throughout the year are sponsored by rum brands. At first, this started with the rum and coke or rum and ting, but as I kept returning to the island this grew into an appreciation for sipping rums.

So it’s hard to nail down one specific time or reason I fell in love with rum but I’d say, like any great relationship, it started slowly and developed over time!

3) The biggest achievement you personally feel you have accomplished for the rum industry.

Oh man, there’s way too many great people out in the industry that have done way more than me for the industry. Any accomplishment I would say would pale in comparison to most! I’d just say that for Worthy Park, I’m thrilled to be doing my part leading the development of our export market to help push the rum category and it’s appreciation of authentic, traditional rum to new levels. I mean there’s almost 350 years of history at Worthy Park I get to introduce people to – you can’t beat that.

4) What is that thing that makes you want to continue in the rum industry?

Definitely a couple reasons. I feel that there’s such a big push right now to really increase the perception of rum as a category and with that, there’s a definite nod to companies with authenticity, history, and heritage. Also, Jamaican rum has such a well-respected name out there, it’s really motivating to continue to be a contributor to the real rum movement and also be able to bring even more positivity around Brand Jamaica. Plus, I work for a great family-owned and operated company, and there’s always the motivation that comes with wanting the company to do well!

5) Favorite Rum Drink?

I’m a simple man so give me a Rum-Bar Gold on the rocks :-). Maybe with a splash of water depending on my mood. A little more water if I’m at the beach 🙂 There’s just so many great rums out there, and news one to discover it’s hard to nail down just one favorite. That being said, you can never go wrong with a Rum Old Fashioned if I’m in the cocktail mood.

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

I really believe that there is a trend – and I hate using the word trend because it makes you think it will go out of style – so let’s say a movement towards more transparency and honesty in the rum industry. Combined with consumer education there will be much more of a better categorization of rum to help wade through the many styles of rum out there. Rum will not longer fit neatly into the color categories but by methods of distillation, raw materials, and ingredients. The educators will educate but ultimately the consumers will have to demand this change.

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

I’m lucky enough to work closely with my Co-Managing Director, Gordon Clarke. He’s continually teaching me and showing me the ropes, especially from the technical side of the rum world. Outside of the company, it’s really hard to list just 2 or 3. This goes back to how amazing the rum world is because everyone I meet, they could be a distributor, writer, judge or even another rum producer (who would really be a competitor of ours) has welcomed me into the industry with open arms. Just to name a few (and I KNOW I’m leaving a ton of people out..) I have learned so much already from guys like Richard Seale, Luca Gargano, Roger Barnes, Peter Holland and Matt Petriek – all guys who have been unlucky enough to give me their contact info – now I harass them all the time for rum related things.

8) What 3-5 things do you have on your bucket list for the next 12 months?

Most would have to do with which rum fest’s I plan on visiting and I’m actually crossing off Berlin in a couple of weeks. I’d also definitely say re-entering the US market; breaking into the Canadian market. We’re working on some new releases which I hope we can bring to market sooner rather than later too.

9) Any last words?

That sounds ominous, how about parting words? I look forward to continuing to introduce Worthy Park to everyone and anyone that will listen. One Love.

10) Where can people learn more about you? Website? Social Media Page?

I have personal pages on Facebook and Instagram but you can find Worthy Park at WEBSITE – www.worthyparkestate.com | FACEBOOK: @RumBarRumJamaica | INSTAGRAM: @rumbar_rum | YOUTUBE: @worthyparkestate

Author: Fede

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