WHAT IT'S REALLY LIKE TO START A LIQUOR COMPANY
When we were first introduced to Parce Rum, we joked that we wanted to partner solely because their branding is just so damn good. And so we did: Parce Rum was the official cocktail of our Print All Over Me Launch party and thankfully the rum was as good as their design.
We spoke to Parce Rum co-founder (and WNW member!) Jim Powers, who told us about his transition from the music industry to the wild west of running a booze company. The endless paperwork, the trips to Columbia, and how he's doing things differently. Jim also shared with us his One Bottle = One Tree initiative where he plants a tree for every bottle purchased. So now drinking means we're doing some good, too? We'll have another, please.
First: let’s talk about how amazing your last name is. Did you make it up?
Bequeathed to me by my father, from his father, and so on… from a lineage of Irish whisky bootleggers and horse “traders” from the Old Sod.
What’s your backstory?
Years working as an A&R guy for major record labels where I was fortunate to have a bit of success, and then I started my own indie label Minty Fresh, in Chicago. Growing up, I always was obsessive about music and somehow I found a way to get paid for my interests. When people stopped paying for music, it seemed like a good time to follow another personal passion, one that couldn’t be digitized. A good drink. Aged sipping rum.
How did Parce Rum get started? What makes you guys different from the other brands on the market?
Parce was started by myself, two brothers - Brian and Patrick, and a family friend in Colombia, Jaime Uribe. We were sitting on the porch of a finca (farm) a couple of hours outside of Medellin thinking about ways we could work with something associated with Colombia that we could all get excited about. After much back and forth, we looked at the drinks we were holding in our tumblers and it all made sense. Rummy rum rum!
When we first got introduced, we joked that the reason we wanted to team up was because your branding looked good with ours. Seriously though, who did it? Tell us about the design process.
Our bottle design was in collaboration with Mike Renaud. It took about a year and a half to arrive at the finished bottle.
Mike took thousands of pictures in Colombia for inspiration and we spent many hours in bars, looking at bottles already on shelves and asking ourselves how Parce could stand out while being bartender-friendly. Tough, tough work, requiring our consumption of many spirits along the way. Fortunately Mike is as gracious and fun to be around as he is talented so the entire process was great. We love his Parce design and the response has been fantastic.
What's been the most unexpected thing about running a liquor company? Where do you hope to be in five years?
The overwhelming paperwork and legalities of dealing with alcohol was/is even greater than we’d imagined. It kind of never stops, and you are always signing something. In five years we hope to have planted 300,000 trees in Colombia through our One Bottle = One Tree program. For every bottle of Parce purchased, we plant a tree native to Colombia as part of a reforestation partnership there. So far, we’re at over 10,000 trees planted and counting…
What’s up next for you?
We will introduce a Parce 3-year-old rum in the Spring. The flavor is fantastic and we think it will be the best 3-year-old rum out there, in our completely biased opinion.
Favorite rum recipe?
I’m a fan of Parce neat or on the rocks. Also love a true daiquiri using 2oz Parce 8yr, 1/2 oz lime juice, and 1/2 oz simple syrup. Year-round tastiness. Love a Manhattan using Parce instead of bourbon too. Yeeeumm.
Last few things you googled:
Re-engineered New Balance 1500, Che Bill Murray, Bandito (bar I was trying to find in Bogotá last Wednesday)
Advice you’d give your high school or college self:
Tie: “God is in the details” and “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.”
Kurt Vonnegut, EB White, Jonathan Ive
Biggest career “failure”?
A music app that applied crowd sourcing to content curation. I still love the idea, but the ever-evolving technology behind it was humbling.
Proudest career moment:
Having a couple of bands I worked with perform on Saturday Night Live. For a kid from Iowa who was first introduced to many great bands through that show, it was a real thrill to have previously unknown artists make it to that stage.