Food & Drink

Interview with Marc Farrell, founder of Ten to One Rum

By Swingers

Interview with Marc Farrell, founder of Ten to One Rum

Rum Reimagined: Ten to One is breaking the mold in the spirits industry as a Black-owned rum brand inspired by Caribbean culture with a goal to reinvigorate the way people taste, experience, and talk about rum.

To learn more, we’ve sat down with Marc Farrell, the founder of Ten to One, to talk about the inspiration he found in his Trinidadian background, how Ten to One started, and what it’s like being a Black-owned brand in the spirit industry.


Hi Marc! Can you tell us more about how Ten to One came to life?  

My motivation to take the leap with Ten To One came about quite serendipitously. After working in management consulting, private equity and venture capital, I moved to New York and started my first business, in the sports and media space. Five years in, I ended up meeting Howard Schultz, the founder and CEO of Starbucks, whose mission and purpose I was immediately inspired by. That connection led me to move to Seattle, where I spent three years at Starbucks as VP, running point on eCommerce and retail business — an experience that pushed me to pursue my dream: creating a global-class product that genuinely spoke to my Caribbean heritage, which is Ten To One.   


What has growing up in the Caribbean / Caribbean culture taught you about rum?   

Growing up as a proud Trinidadian, I have noticed a gap between the way rum is appreciated where I’m from and the way it’s typically perceived here in the U.S. For us, rum plays a role in so many moments of celebration–big and small, high and low–it’s really a part of the social fabric and what we call “the art of celebration”. And for us, that celebration is more than an activity; it’s a frame of mind and way of life. Throughout the Caribbean, rum is a revered spirit with a centuries-long history and heritage, whereas in America a lot of that culture ends up getting lost in trope-ish rum narratives.  

What is the mission statement of Ten to One? / What is the goal of Ten to One in the industry?   

We saw an enormous opportunity to challenge the way rum has historically been perceived in the U.S., while reinvigorating the way people taste, experience and talk about the category as a whole. We have this saying, “anything you can do, rum can do better,” which speaks to both the elevated and versatile nature of our rums. The rum category has felt very narrow and caricatured outside of the Caribbean, often misrepresented by pirate themes and sugary, slushy drinks. I think a lot of consumers in this market don’t necessarily approach rum with the same reverence as they do some other spirits. Ten To One aims to challenge that, and find contemporary yet authentic ways to make consumers realize that rum can be both versatile and sophisticated. 


Can you explain what “Beauty in the Blend” means?   

So for a bit of backstory: the name Ten To One is inspired by the original Caribbean Federation, which consisted of 10 countries. As our prime minister at the time said, “One from 10 equals 0.” He was making the point that if you remove one from the collective, the whole thing falls apart. There’s a real beauty in bringing to life different distillation methods, different provenances and different terroirs through a single blend; our core lineup blends rums from Trinidad, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and now Guyana. This sense of unity and togetherness creates a beauty both in our blends and exists as the ethos of all we do outside of producing the liquid itself.  


As a Black-owned brand, how do you support your staff and communities?   

As mentioned, Ten To One takes this inspiration of togetherness from Trinidad and Tobago’s first Prime Minister, Dr. Eric Williams and his declaration that “One from 10 equals 0.” That idea of strength in community and collaboration is foundational to our brand and Ten To One’s championing of Caribbean and Black makers, be it our Artist Edition bottle in collaboration with Brooklyn-baddd artist Devin B. Johnson; our published cocktail manual, Kindred Spirits featuring recipes by Black bartenders; or this year’s inaugural TTO Salon series to kick off Black History Month. No matter what we do, we always look to cultivate a compelling, pioneering community of Black creators across industries and backgrounds, and give them a forum to meet, inspire one another and expand their networks.  


What does it mean to you to be a Black-owned spirit in the liquor industry? 

Our goal has been to create a product strong enough to challenge expectations in both the rum industry and spirits at large. We like to think we are well on our way: Ten To One has won nearly 100 awards and captured the attention of investors ranging from Grammy-winner Ciara to industry leading funds like Pronghorn and InvestBev. While our product is amazing, what really resonates is Ten To One’s authentic brand story behind the blends. Being a young Black founder who was born and raised in the Caribbean drives our narrative: we are advocates for what rum, rum culture, and Caribbean culture means to us. As we reimagine the rum category and lean into our story, we hope to subsequently inspire greater diversity in the spirits industry.   

What is your advice for people who want to get into the industry? 

In addition to ensuring you have a great product…my biggest piece of advice is that they need to be ready to roll up their sleeves, and be relentless in the pursuit of their dream. The spirits industry involves a lot of hard graft and hand to hand combat. You have to be fully prepared for it, and be ready and willing to share your story with passion and purpose.   


Quick fire: What’s your favorite way to enjoy Ten to One rum?  

I appreciate all three of our expressions for different occasions. Most recently, however, I have been enjoying our new sipper, the Five Origin Select. When it comes to our dark rum, you’ll often find me drinking it with a splash of soda water or in a rum old fashioned. And during the summer months, our white rum goes very well in a spicy daiquiri served on the rocks. It’s delicious, refreshing and carries the notes of white rum really well.  

 Quick fire: Ten to One is best paired with ________.   

As a versatile product, we pride ourselves in serving Ten To One with an array of food pairings. We love any opportunity to show how our rum, and the cocktails created with it, shine in very unexpected ways. We’ve done Omakase dinners with Ten To One cocktail pairings; anything that leans into that fresh citrus space pairs exceptionally well alongside our white rum. Our dark rum, which has more of those notes of baking spice, toffee and cooked fruits, goes well for sipping occasions after dinner and dessert-based occasions, for example we’ve hosted rum and chocolate tastings. By honing in on the notes the rum delivers versus the category it’s from, we’ve done successful pairings across cuisines — our first client was COTE, a Michelin starred Korean steakhouse, and the list goes on.  

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