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. In 1987, they 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 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 twelve months or indefinitely if refrigerated or frozen – ideal for distribution anywhere in the world.
In 1997, Tortuga Imports/Tortuga Rum Cake Company opened in Miami, Florida to handle worldwide distribution, mail order and online sales. Headed by Robert’s daughter, Monique and her husband, Marcus Simmonds, the company was named to the INC5000 list of fastest growing private businesses in United States for four consecutive years.