With a plethora of craft breweries, local distilleries and a nearby wine country, there is no shortage of different booze to sip on in St. Louis. Rum, on the other hand, might not typically come to mind when you think of Midwestern spirits, but Naked Spirits is trying to change that.
In Brentwood, Naked Spirits is distilling rum made with American-grown sugarcane in all sorts of varieties. The team is made up of three minority owners and two majority owners, all friends who had a passion for the spirit. One of the partners is Brandon Eckardt, whose spirit of choice has always been rum. He thinks it has to do with the sweet tooth he's had since a kid.
"I figured, why not figure out how to make liquor out of sugar?" he says.
When looking through the Naked Spirits website, you might assume that the distillery only produces two kinds of rum – white and spiced – but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Naked Spirits makes several different flavored rums, such as the Mocha Royale made with fresh-roasted coffee from Dubuque coffee, as well as aged versions of its rum. And it's rums like the Mocha Royale that make Eckardt and his team want to collaborate with more local companies. The next endeavor is aging rum in tawny port barrels from Mount Pleasant Winery in Augusta, Missouri.
Eckardt says that people constantly ask the distillery when they might dive into something different, like whiskey, but he says that the focus will always be rum.
"I am a rum producer," he says. "That's what I love. That's what I drink. That's what I make. And I'm not apologetic about that."
The only exception is the distillery's vodka, which is made by distilling sugar as opposed to the typical wheat, corn or potato that vodka comes from.
Even though the distillery – which launched just about a year ago – opened during what Eckardt says is possibly the worst time (only second to Prohibition, of course), Naked Spirits is still pushing forward positively, and will certainly still be making rum as long as they can.
"We love what we do," he says. "We're passionate about what we do, and we're having a lot of fun doing it."
You can locate a bottle of Naked Spirits rum on its website.
Naked Spirits, 1002 Hanley Industrial Ct., Brentwood, Missouri, 314.858.6722, www.nakedspirits.com