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Kenny Chesney makes a 'rum' at bottling that island vibe

1:30 PM, Apr 4, 2013   |    comments
Kenny Chesney
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By Maria Puente

Kenny Chesney is bottling up the island life and sharing it with his fans.

The country star is launching a new premium blended-rum brand, Blue Chair Bay, when he kicks off his annual summer tour in May.

"It's for the little bit of pirate in all of us," jokes Chesney about his three rum "expressions" (blends), produced at a distillery on a Barbados beach just yards from crashing waves. "It's an extension of what I do and how I live my life."

Chesney is the latest celeb to link with an alcohol (remember George Clooney's tequila? Willie Nelson's whiskey? Diddy's vodka?), but only a few (Jimmy Buffett) have launched a rum. And it's no mere endorsement deal; he says he was deeply involved in creating the blend, the taste, even the logo. "It was important for me not to take someone's money to put my name on it to build a brand not my own -- that didn't feel authentic."

A winner of eight Country Music Association Awards, Chesney, 45, is introducing the rum to his famously loyal fans, known as No Shoes Nation, during the traditional pre-show tailgating parties.

"I'm doing it to represent my fans, who are laid back but not lazy. They're very chill but have a lot of passion," Chesney says.

"And no matter where they are, they walk through the world like bare feet in the sand. It's why they're drawn to my music, and hopefully they'll feel same way about the rum."

Born in eastern Tennessee, Chesney says he's become an island boy at heart, spending his free time after tours "floating" around the Caribbean to recharge and "brush off the road dust."

Chesney waxes lyrical about the sensual delights of island life, which he and a master blender tried to capture in the rums.

"I'm trying to bottle all those emotions up," he says. "The way the sun moves across the sky, the warm air that makes the skin breath, the essence of lazy afternoons on a boat. I tried to create the rum that I want to drink."

The rums, which will sell for $18-$19 a bottle, include a light, white rum (aimed at women), ranked "excellent" in a recent beverage competition; a coconut rum; and a coconut rum spiced with Caribbean cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and pimento. He also enlisted a master mixologist to create Blue Chair Bay rum cocktails.

The brand name will be familiar to fans: Old Blue Chair is a ballad staple at his shows. "It seemed to fit," he says about the real blue chair where he wrote the song. "It seemed an authentic name."

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