Kasama Rum Founder Alexandra Dorda (Interview)

Published by The Rumlab ago about the Kasama company

Kasama Rum Founder Alexandra Dorda (Interview) article cover image

Kasama means “together” in Filipino. In a world where the connection is measured in signal strength, Kasama is all about the joy of physically coming together. Distilled from freshly pressed noble cane juice, then aged in American oak barrels, Kasama has all the flavors of the tropics: sweet pineapple, a hint of vanilla, and just a pinch of sea salt.

TRL: Who is Alexandra Dorda?

Alexandra Dorda is the founder of Kasama Rum, a small-batch rum inspired by her mother’s native Philippines. Alexandra’s love of craft spirits comes from her Polish father, who co-founded Belvedere & Chopin Vodkas. After graduating from Stanford University with a degree in International Relations, Alexandra worked at Chobani Yogurt for two years in Manhattan before returning to Poland to work for the family business doing marketing and new product development. She then moved on to work in private equity for 4 years before she was drawn back to the spirits industry, forging her path with the development of Kasama. Alexandra’s first solo venture not only brings to light her industry knowledge, heritage, and entrepreneurship that runs in her family but also a sense of optimism that many consumers are craving right now.

TRL: What does the rum mean for you? What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?

I realized that I could authentically create the kind of rum that was missing from the market while also celebrating the Filipino heritage that I am so proud of. My mother is Filipino and I’m very in touch with that part of my heritage, and when I learned that the Philippines is one of the largest producers and consumers of rum in the world I was intrigued. When I became curious about the rums on the market, I realized that there weren’t any brands speaking to me or my millennial demographic and lifestyle – one that was free of the typical tropes often associated with old-school rum brands like sailors and pirates with heavily spiced flavor profiles. So I was motivated to create a new-school rum brand that does just that.

TRL: Three essential characteristics that define the rum according to your perspective.

First, we take pride in our Philippine heritage. Although the Philippines is one of the largest rum producers in the world, this is a little-known fact in the United States (our first and largest market), so many people are surprised to hear about Kasama’s origins. Also, sugarcane, which is the base ingredient for all rums, is native to Southeast Asia, so we have some of the best sugarcane in the world.

Second, it has a very approachable semi-dry flavor profile that is meant to draw new consumers to the rum category. Kasama is light and easy to sip, with delicious notes of pineapple, vanilla, and a touch of sea salt. It is a great sipping rum, but also a fabulous base for tropical cocktails. The aging process gives Kasama its golden hue, mellows the overall flavor profile, and leaves you with a hint of vanilla on the nose and palate.

Third, we are on a mission to disrupt the rum category by veering away from outdated nautical tropes and creating a lifestyle brand that is exciting and relevant to a new generation of rum drinkers.

TRL: What is the most important contribution you have made to the rum industry?

I am proud that I have brought a fresh approach to the rum category, and that I have been able to use Kasama as a platform to celebrate the Philippine culture that I am so proud of.

TRL: What is your favorite place for drinking rum?

My favorite place to drink Kasama is in good company.

TRL: Favorite drink + recipe

I like to keep my drinks relatively simple. I like to make a twist on a daiquiri with calamansi juice (a tiny Filipino fruit that looks like lime but tastes like a cross between a mandarin and a lemon). Lately, I have become a fan of Rum Negroni, which is made by swapping out gin for rum. It is my go-to when I am in the mood for a drier cocktail.

TRL: Why is it important to educate the rum consumer?

Education about the rum category is so important because I feel like it’s a very misunderstood category that is thought of as a vacation drink to be sipped poolside in sticky sweet cocktails. Rum is one of the most diverse spirits in the world, with a myriad of styles and terroirs based on the type of sugar cane it is distilled from, where it is distilled, and how. Rum works well on so many occasions and in many different recipes.

At Kasama, we’re on a mission to change the perception of rum and truly believe it should be considered alongside some of the best-aged spirits on the market like ryes and whiskeys. Rum has an inherent appeal with a sweeter profile than other dark spirits and positive connotations surrounding vacation and the tropics. It’s versatile enough to be used in cocktails or sipped by itself and the aging process gives it a mellow flavor with a ton of depth.

TRL: What are your next goals in the rum industry?

For years, the industry has talked about how rum will be the next “big thing” in spirits. Rum is a fantastic, nuanced, and diverse spirit that deserves the same recognition and appreciation as whisky and tequila. This time, I truly feel that we are on the cusp of a rum renaissance, and I hope Kasama can help bring that about.

TRL: What is your advice for new generations in the rum industry?

The industry is vast and there are so many ways to get your foot in the door, so I recommend getting as much experience as you can so you can learn the different angles. A great place to start is by working for a company or brand that you admire, and using the skills you learn there as a springboard. When I graduated from university I went to work at Chobani Yogurt, which is the company that created the Greek yogurt category in the United States. While it wasn’t a spirit or rum brand, it was a fantastic education on how to build a pioneering food and beverage brand.

TRL: How can people learn more about you? Website? Social media page?