Passenger Pick of the Month

Tortuga Rum Company

Tortuga Rum

Enjoy this month's Passenger Pick as we explore the story behind the beginning of one of the Cayman’s best known treasures: Tortuga Rum and Rum Cakes.

In 1984, while working for Cayman Airways, Captain Robert Hamaty and his wife Carlene, an in-flight supervisor founded the Tortuga Rum Company, Ltd.  They introduced the first rums of the Cayman Islands, primarily to appeal as a souvenir to the growing tourist and cruise passenger business.  The name, Tortuga was chosen from the original name given to the Cayman Islands by Christopher Columbus -- Las Tortugas, the Spanish word meaning turtles -- for all the turtles he saw on the islands’ sandy shores.

In 1987, the Hamaty’s opened the first Tortuga duty free liquor store and later that year introduced the now world famous Tortuga Caribbean Rum Cake.

For years Carlene had baked rum cakes for special occasions, using a four-generation old family recipe. Friends in the food business encouraged her to make it part of the Tortuga line.  First offered at a local restaurant, her moist delectable rum cake was an instant hit.

By 1990 the demand was so great that the company expanded with a bakery, making their cake the Caribbean’s first commercially produced rum cake.  A custom vacuum-seal packaging machine was added in 1991.  The process prolongs the cakes’ shelf life for up to 12 months or indefinitely if refrigerated or frozen – ideal for distribution anywhere in the world.

Today, Tortuga rum cakes continue to be made from the same secret family recipe, using the finest ingredients and hand glazed with a special oak-barrel-aged, five year old Tortuga Gold Rum.  They are sold in three sizes and eight tropical flavors.  They can be found worldwide in a variety of locations and can also be ordered online at www.tortugarumcakes.com

Tortuga Rums now are available in many varieties, most of which can only be found in the Cayman Islands.  These include the original Tortuga Light Rum and Tortuga Gold Rum in addition to Banana, Coconut, Mango, Vanilla, Pineapple, Spiced, Rum Cream, Rum Liqueur, Coffee Rum Liqueur, Ponche, Orange Rum Liqueur and their international acclaimed, award winning aged rums -- Tortuga 5 year old and 12 year old Premium Gold Rums.

Tortuga also provides a wide variety of branded, Caribbean gourmet products such as: 6 flavors of flavored syrups, fruit punch, 3 flavors of rum fudge, chocolate rum turtles with sea salt,  rum truffles, 6 flavors of gourmet rum coffees, a selection of hot and savory Caribbean sauces, honey, pepper jelly and more. It's most recent addition to the line - Tortuga 100% Jamica Blue Mountain Coffee - (whole bean and roasted & ground) has just received a 2013 Editor's pick New Product Award from The Gormet Retailer, an American speciaity food magazine. Tortuga Chocolate Rum Turtles with Sea Salt was recognized by the magazine in 2012 with a similar award.

The Tortuga Rum Company has become Tortuga International Holdings, Limited with operations and bakeries in Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Barbados and the Bahamas and a distribution center in Miami, Florida.  Robert’s daughter, Monique Hamaty-Simmonds is the Chief Marketing Officer for Tortuga International and her husband, Marcus Simmonds is Chief Executive Officer.

Robert and Carlene Hamaty continue to own Tortuga Liquors, their wholesale and retail liquor distribution business in Grand Cayman and are shareholders in Tortuga International.  Their locations include duty-free shops in Georgetown, West Bay, two shops at the airport and numerous local retail Tortuga Liquors, Fine Wine & Spirits thorough Grand Cayman.

The Tortuga brand is well-known by the more than 20 million annual Caribbean tourists and cruise ship passengers.  Tortuga Caribbean Rum Cakes are the #1 export of the Cayman Islands and named the 2013 “Best Cruise Souvenir” by Porthole Cruise Magazine for the eighth consecutive year.  Tortuga products are sold in gift and specialty food departments and gourmet stores throughout the Caribbean and North America, in onboard gift shops of nearly 100 cruise ships and shipped to 70 countries around the world.  

"We are very proud of our deep roots in Grand Cayman," says Monique Hamaty Simmonds, Tortuga's chief marketing officer. "December 17, 2013 will be the 30th anniversary for the company. We plan to celebrate this milestone throughout 2014."

Special Online offer for Passenger Pick readers – Use promo code VALPICK13 and save 13% off your online order.  Valid Oct 1 – Dec 1, 2013.

To pre-order duty and tax-free liquor, call (345) 815-7201.

Duty-Free Specials:

- Buy 2 medium 16 oz cakes for $USD 30.00.

- Buy 2 large 33 oz cakes for $USD 40.00.

- Buy 2 (1 Litre) Tortuga Rum for $USD 24.00.

Pick of the Month Archive:

Pick Of The Month 2011

Pick Of The Month 2012

Pick Of The Month 2013

Pick Of The Month 2014

Guy Harvey's Island Grill 2015

Tortuga Rum Company 2015

Tiki Beach 2015

Agua Restaurant & Lounge 2015

Red Sail Sports 2015

Eagle Rays Bar and Grill 2015

Cayman In A Nutshell 2015

KARoo 2015

Eden Rock Diving Center 2015

Abacus 2015

Michael's Genuine Food & Drink 2015

SNUBA Cayman 2015

Capt. Marvin’s Watersports 2015

Copper Falls Steakhouse 2015

Discover Scuba Diving with Red Sail 2015

Catch Restaurant & Lounge 2015

Capt. Marvin’s Watersports 2015

Lobster Pot Restaurant & Wine Bar 2015

Tukka Restaurant and Bar 2015

Cayman Kayaks 2015

The Jolly Roger 2015

Catch Restaurant & Lounge 2015

Guy Harvey's Island Grill 2016

Eden Rock Diving Center 2016

The Bistro 2016

Paradise Sailing & Snorkeling 2016

Agua Restaurant & Lounge 2016

Red Sail Sports 2016

Cayman In A Nutshell 2016

Eagle Rays Bar and Grill 2016

The Jolly Roger 2016

Grand Old House 2016

Capt. Marvin’s Watersports 2016

Osetra Bay 2016

Copper Falls Steakhouse 2016

Discover Scuba Diving with Red Sail 2016

Capt. Marvin’s Watersports 2016

Catch Restaurant & Lounge 2016

Cimboco 2016

Lobster Pot Restaurant & Wine Bar 2016

Tukka Restaurant and Bar 2016

Cayman Kayaks 2016

Cayman In A Nutshell 2016

Guy Harvey's Island Grill 2016

Catch Restaurant & Lounge 2017

Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park 2017

The Bistro 2017

Red Sail Sports 2017

Agua Restaurant & Lounge 2017

Cayman In A Nutshell 2017

Eagle Rays Bar and Grill 2017

Eden Rock Diving Center 2017

Cimboco 2017

Casa 43 2017

Pedro St James 2017

Agua Restaurant & Lounge 2017

Capt. Marvin’s Watersports 2017

Copper Falls Steakhouse 2017

SNUBA Cayman 2017

Lobster Pot Restaurant & Wine Bar 2017

Eden Rock Diving Center 2017

Tukka Restaurant and Bar 2017

Divetech 2017

Eden Rock Diving Center 2017

Catch Restaurant & Lounge 2017

Red Sail Sports 2018

Guy Harvey's Island Grill 2018