David was born and raised in the NY/NJ area. He grew up immersed in the family apparel business. From an early age, it was always his dream to lead the 4th generation family business and to take it to additional levels. After a few years in the family business, David opened his own 1950s-style diner/restaurant and then managed two of NYC’s premier restaurants at the South Street Seaport where he hone his skills in identifying what consumers want. By 1997, the school uniform division of the family business had grown immensely. David rejoined the business.
Under David’s leadership, RK Uniform became the largest plaid garment supplier in the USA. David managed the school division, including design, fabrication, production, inventory control, sales, and customer service. David became the lead expert at the forefront of innovation and customer service in the school uniform industry, forever bringing customers’ voices to the table.
When Covid shut everything down, his thirst for knowledge kicked in, and found that aging rum was a new passion. He decided to use small oak barrels to experiment with combining aged rum with flavor, as the marketplace seemed to be very limited in high-quality flavored rum products.
He experimented with aging and infusing different variations of rums. He spent over a year studying and experimenting with rum, blending it with various tropical fruits, and maturing it in the barrels. With every iteration, the flavors became more refined and harmonious. It was then he decided that this was a product that should come to the market, as there was no other product that combined the sweet and smoky taste that he was looking to create.
Outside of work, David teaches yoga, is an avid traveler, and is a huge lover of all things to eat and drink! Passion for life and creating fun are just a couple of exceptional qualities David brings to the job. Let’s learn more about him in this interview.
TRL: What does the rum mean for you? What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?
Rum invokes for me the feeling of warmth, or fun in the sun and happiness. I have always been a rum drinker, but I really started appreciating the nuances and depth of the rums over the last few years. In my early years, rum was the go-to spirit to drink in my “umbrella drinks” but as I have matured, I’ve found the sweet flavors of just the rum seem to always come through. This has led to the development of a more refined taste for the actual spirit and all of its nuances.
TRL: Three essential characteristics that define the rum according to your perspective.
This is the first thing I do when opening a new bottle of rum is pour it into a glass. What do I smell? It sets up what comes next. This is as much a part of the experience as actually tasting.
The aging process brings complexity to the spirit. It gives it the flavor and allows the rum to mellow and develop the desirable notes of flavor and gives it its rich color that creates a pure, no coloring added rum, which I enjoy sipping.
The ultimate trait. Is it harsh? Is it flavorless? Is it overly sweet? The visual and the sensual may look great, but if the taste is not appealing, then it’s not something I would want to have again. Each sip of a good rum brings completely different tasting notes to the experience.
TRL: What is the most important contribution you have made in the rum industry?
We are new, but I believe we are bringing to market a rum that differs from anything out there. Taking an aged rum, infusing it with flavors, and then maturing it again is something different and I hope to expand the horizons of our industry. Our goal is to expand the mid-market rum drinkers into wanting to sip their rum and blend it into their favorite drinks.
Within a brief period, we have gone from the concept of a new brand to making it a reality in the marketplace. This is no simple task, as you are aware. My background in running companies played a big part in allowing us to do this. We are entering the market with our first of what we hope are many offerings.
TRL: Benefits that the rum industry has given you.
The people I have met on this journey have been open and welcoming and have helped me learn about this industry. They are passionate about rum and love to share their insights, which I love!
Doing something that you love is not a job, it is enjoyment. It invites you to share your knowledge, passion, and products to expand others’ knowledge of what rum is and can be while expanding my knowledge.
TRL: What’s another thing you are passionate about besides rum? Why?
Spending time with family and friends and just having fun. Life is too short not to enjoy it, so I always try to find joy in every situation. Life is a journey that you embark on and if I can always learn something new and share that with others, I will find joy in life.
TRL: What is your favorite place for drinking rum?
As I mentioned, rum can bring that tropical feeling wherever you are. It’s not really about a place to drink rum, but who you drink it with and the memories you create.
TRL: Favorite drink + Recipe
Balsamic Berry Blast—one of our original recipes!
1/8oz Balsamic Glaze (or Vinegar)
¾ oz Lime Juice
1.5 oz Reif Rum
¾ oz Strawberry Shrub
Add all ingredients except the Prosecco to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain over ice into a high glass and top with Prosecco. Garnish with a dry lime.
TRL: Why is it important to educate the rum consumer?
Beyond just creating a delicious rum, I wanted to challenge the conventional perception of rum as solely a cocktail ingredient. With Reif Rum, I wanted to show that rum can stand on its own as a sipping spirit, comparable to high-end whiskies and scotches. By infusing flavors and further maturing the rum in oak, I hope to inspire current rum drinkers and non-rum drinkers to explore new possibilities.
TRL: Any tips to train the palate and taste a good premium rum?
Everyone’s palate is different, but let’s start with nosing the rum in the glass. This will prepare the person’s palate for what will follow. Then swirl the glass slightly as this introduces a little air into the rum, which many times will bring out some of the subtle aromas. As you know the glass, be sure to part your lips slightly as this will give you a much better level of smell. Have the person look for fresh smells, like brown sugar, spice, and floral scents.
When someone takes a taste of a good rum, they should take a small taste and let it sit in their mouth for a few moments before swallowing it. This will prepare your palate for the next sip, which will be slightly bigger. This is the point where many of the flavors will be found. Enjoy sipping rum and the quality rum will shine through and allow you to expand your enjoyment of all the nuances that can be found in a good quality rum.
TRL: How can the rum contribute to improving the crisis in some countries?
As the popularity of rum continues to increase globally, this creates an opportunity for less developed countries to benefit from producing a new expanding export product or expand their current production. This export can generate badly needed revenue for individuals and governments to elevate their overall standard of living.
TRL: Is the commitment to sustainable development the key to success for the permanence of the rum industry in the world? Why?
As the spirit industry undergoes more scrutiny on the global stage, we must strive to apply sustainability through the entire manufacturing and distribution process. As rum is governed differently depending on the country of origin, this creates some challenges both inside each country, but also as an export into the destination country and for global consumers. With this in mind, many consumers are questioning a product’s impact on their environment. We, as producers of rum, should always listen to our consumers and address their concerns.
TRL: Who would like to meet in the rum industry? What would you say to him/her?
I want to meet everyone in this industry that I can learn something from (and share a drink with). From bartenders to consumers to master distillers and blenders! I wouldn’t say much. I would listen and absorb everything.
TRL: What are your next goals in the rum industry?
We will look to see how we can help the industry grow. We want to help educate current rum drinkers and people that don’t currently drink rum as to its flavor and its history.
TRL: Plans you have when you leave the rum industry.
No plans to leave the industry. Only grow and expand my horizons! Having way too much fun to leave!
TRL: Why is the role of the bartender important in the rum industry?
The bartender’s role is crucial in the rum industry as they contribute to brand promotion, customer satisfaction with their expertise and knowledge and their mixology and creativity in coming up with unique cocktails. Bartenders set trends by introducing new techniques and ways to drink rum!
TRL: What is your advice for new generations in the rum industry?
We are the new generation, so we are hopefully taking our own advice and learning everything we can from those who have been in the industry. Learn from them and be involved in as many industry events/training as possible.
TRL: How can people learn more about you? Website? Social media page?
Published by The Rumlab ago
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