Who among us hasn’t dreamed about trying our hands in the beverage industry, spending our days taste-testing the latest and greatest spirits? You may think it’s all free booze and parties, but just ask Hilton Head Island resident Tim Grovenburg, co-founder of Brass Ring Spirit Brands, and he’ll tell you: it’s all about hard work and dedication.
OK, so he did get to party with Jay-Z, but it was only that one time.
“Those are the kind of stories where people don’t believe you until you show them pictures,” he said with a laugh.
His brush with Mr. Beyonce came about when Sovereign Brands, the company he was working for at the time, sold its Ace of Spades brand to the rap mogul. Now a renowned brand in the industry, Sovereign was at the time just a small startup based in a New York City apartment. Grovenburg helped grow the brand while still in college at Bentley University.
That he held such a prestigious position while pursuing a degree and competing on Bentley’s football team is impressive on its own. That he graduated summa cum laude is a further indication of how driven Grovenburg is.
“My football teammates would all give nicknames to each others’ dorms, so we had The Rodeo, The Champagne Room; all these really fun names,” he said. “Mine was called The Library.”
Grovenburg’s approach to the beverage industry isn’t entirely academic. He’s seen it from every angle, from stocking shelves at his uncle’s liquor store at age 15 (“It was something we all did — chipping in and helping run the family store.”) to training as a bartender during college. (“It taught me to appreciate mixology and expand my knowledge of spirits and how flavors can mix.”)
And, of course, there is his time helping grow Sovereign Brands. “That was an incredible experience to be a part of a company like that, that young,” he said. “I had awesome mentors right off the bat.”
It’s that experience and drive he now brings to Brass Ring, the brand he co-founded and which owns Hilton Head Distillery on the island and Dark Corner Distillery in Greenville. His work with the brand is a reminder that the beverage industry is a far cry from the idyllic image of three-martini lunches and cocktails with celebrities. It is an industry, after all, and one Grovenburg tackles with the energy and passion of youth.
“You’ve got to really embrace the hustle, especially in the beverage industry. It’s insanely competitive,” he said. “I’m out there hustling, grinding, meeting, shaking hands every single day with as many people as I possibly can.”
Still, he is quick to credit the entire team at Brass Ring, from his co-founder, Tim Triplett, on down.
“Our team is what gets me up every day, just knowing that they’re out there grinding and hustling as hard as I am,” Grovenburg said. “It’s really a special thing to witness.”