A First for Texas

The scores of sealed boxes waiting to be picked up and delivered to the distributor told the story.

Husband and wife Matt and Kelly Railean opened the sliding doors of their warehouse in San Leon only a few months ago. The business is already a great success.

'Spirits' moved them to start their venture - the Raileans make rum.

Railean Distillers caught on quickly with restaurants, hotels, bars and retail stores.

"It's been unbelievable," Matt Railean said. "We sell out everywhere. We hoped for a certain number of orders when we started, and it has doubled from what we thought."

He said part of the success is due to a trend toward regional and local micro-breweries and micro-distillers, and Railean Distillers fits the bill nicely with its superior product.

"People want more of a selection, and a Texas brand is popular. They love it because it's regional," he added. It's also the only rum distillery in the state.

"It's been wonderful and more than we expected," said Kelly Railean. "It's kept us very busy."

Railean Distillers, LLC sells directly to distributors, who in turn have a waiting list of retail buyers.

A big reason for being a box-office hit is their formula featuring high-grade molasses and fermenting in the 350-400 gallon tanks.

"Our molasses is blended special and we actually ferment, which takes three to four days," Kelly said.

Their unique still has seven trays and when it's done, "we get the heart of the spirit," she added.

The Raileans, who live in League City, met in high school and after so many years, they make the perfect team.

With a bachelor's in chemical engineering, Matt knows what rules of order make the perfect rum. His master's in finance also helps ensure their firm's profitability.

Kelly knows spirits inside and out. She has more than 11 years in alcohol beverage and distribution and serves as the firm's sales and marketing guru. It's a rum match made in heaven.

"We complement each other," she said.

The Raileans are boaters who have taken many journeys on their catamaran. That's how they actually came up with the idea for the distillery.

"We'd sail to various islands and take tours of the rum districts," Kelly said. "We saw all these micro distilleries.

"We had been looking for something to start in this area that's new and different and also fun."

So they combined their talents and laid the groundwork. Last year they received their permit.

They began with white rum last December and added dark rum just a few weeks ago. The dark rum has proved to be extremely popular. It is aged in 15-gallon American oak barrels, then bottled for distribution. Among the retail stores that carry their rum is Spec's, in addition to 40-50 restaurants.

Railean Distillers, LLC has plans for future expansion. They will go after other Texas markets and eventually all 50 states.

The couple is flirting with one or two possible tag lines for their product: First Texas Rum or Original Texas Rum. Either way, just label them Texas' Own.

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