Naked Spirits Founder Brian Knappmiller

Published by The Rumlab ago about the Naked Spirits company

Naked Spirits Founder Brian Knappmiller article cover image

Naked Spirits is St. Louis’ premiere experimental distillery specializing in unique and limited flavored rums. Founded in 2019, they believe in pushing boundaries, that rules are meant to be broken, and that nothing is out of reach. Creating rum that embodies those ideals is their goal and purpose.

But at their core, Naked Spirits is a group of good friends who came together through their shared interest in living their best lives. They love cool cars, rock ‘n roll, BBQ, baseball, traveling the world, hanging with family, and–of course–sharing a good cocktail. For them, Naked Spirits is a lifestyle more than anything.

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

Rum is flavor, rum is enjoyment, and rum is community. As partners, we each came to like rum in different ways, but we all share the same major draw, which is the communal aspect that a bottle of good rum brings. We love sharing our rum with others and walking into an event with a bottle, knowing that we are bringing the party with us.

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

– Flavor: this is the most important. Taste is everything.

– Quality: craftsmanship in process and quality of ingredients.

– Story: The story behind the rum, the rum makers, and what led to that creation is an interesting piece to every rum.

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

We have yet to make that big contribution to the rum industry, as we are still fairly young. If we had to state what we would like to contribute, it would be the idea that rum can be high quality and fun at the same time. Too many people see “party” rum as inferior quality and look at high-quality rum as top shelf only. There’s no reason that you can’t party with the good stuff!

TRL: Benefits that the rum industry has given you.

It’s given us the opportunity to express ourselves through our rums. It’s also given us the opportunity to meet so many great people, both in the industry and with other rum fans.

TRL: What’s another thing you are passionate about besides rum? Why?

We’re passionate about so many things–family, cars, music, food–it’s hard to talk about just one. I think the unifying factor between them all is that we are passionate about our passions. We truly believe that life is short and you have to live it to the fullest, so we live a passionate life and bring that same energy to our products.  

For me personally, I love cooking. Crafting a creative meal, figuring out the best flavor combinations, and working to elevate the dining experience for those I’m cooking for, that is one of my biggest passions. There is not much better than bringing joy to people through a shared meal.

TRL: What is your favorite place for drinking rum?

My favorite is drinking our rum with first-time customers in our tasting room. Helping to guide someone on their maiden voyage into the world of Naked Spirits is exceptional!  Second to that, sitting around a fire pit with good friends.

TRL: Favorite drink + Recipe

Our current favorite drink is what we call our Gooey Mudslide. Fill a rocks glass with ice, then start by drizzling some Hershey’s syrup down the sides of the glass. Then pour 1 part Naked Spirits Gooey Buttercake Rum into 2 parts Vanilla Almond Milk. Sip and enjoy!

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

There are a lot of misconceptions about rum, so educating the consumer is part of our daily job. I love talking to bourbon people and introducing them to the world of rum and seeing their eyes go wide when they taste a good aged rum and realize there is another avenue in the world of spirits that they can enjoy.

TRL: Any tips to train the palate and taste a good premium rum?

I always tell people to slow down. A good rum should be sipped, examined, and experienced. Take your time tasting it and learn to identify and pick out the depth of flavors that are present.

TRL: Who would like to meet in the rum industry? What would you say to him/her?

We love meeting maser distillers/blenders, other distillery founders, and other rum aficionados. We learn from everyone we meet and find the passions and excitement of others exhilarating.

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

Our goals are to continue to expand, reach new consumers, and bring our rum and lifestyle to other like-minded individuals.

TRL: Plans you have when you leave the rum industry.

We’re new, so we don’t have any plans to leave the rum industry. We’re hoping to be around for a long, long time!

TRL: Why is the role of the bartender important in the rum industry?

Bartenders are so important as they are the primary interface between consumers and your rum. We love our bartenders and love working with and meeting bartenders. They are the gatekeepers, so getting them excited about a new rum means their customers will be excited about it too.

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

Follow your passions, surround yourself with like-minded people who share your passions and work ethic, then do the work and don’t give up.

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

https://www.instagram.com/nakedspirits/ https://www.nakedspirits.com/