The ferry hummed along Hilton Head Island's Broad Creek, the open water of the Calibogue Sound ahead and the civilization of the island's behind.
Its destination was much more remote -- Daufuskie Island, a small speck of land accessible only by boat.
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"Welcome to the Daufuskie Island Rum Company, probably the hardest rum company in the world to get to," company tour guide Geoff Brunning joked Thursday as 20 or so people came ashore after a 50-minute ferry ride.
The final product, however, makes the arduous trip worthwhile, he said.
The company opened its doors -- and bottles -- just several weeks ago and is already attracting visitors from far and wide. It's had more than 1,000 people come onboard since December, some coming from as far as Illinois, California and Hawaii.
As they walk through the door, they are met with the sweet, sugary aroma of rum distilling on the other side of the observation window. But they're offered a closer view than that, including a tour of the micro-distillery and the chance to sample the rums.
The company offers three different types: a Silver Edition white rum, a spiced rum and its Gold Edition, oak barrel-aged rum.
Only the white is available now.
The distillery is expecting federal government approval soon on its top-secret spice formula -- it is kept in a locked cabinet that very few people have the key to, owner and founder Tony Chase said.
The Gold Edition rum ages for six months, making the company's first batch available in June.
At full production, the company will produce around 150,000 bottles of rum each year.
The idea for the company was born from a conversation between Chase, a medical executive, and a physician. Chase ran with it from there and often had to pinch himself to be sure he wasn't dreaming.
"Finally all that microbiology and organic chemistry I learned in the medical field could actually be put to use," he said. "Rum is an island drink and should be made on an island, so it just made sense."
The Daufuskie company is just one of a few in the United States producing the drink on an island, joining companies in Florida and Hawaii.
Not only will the tropical liquor be available on the island, but Chase met Friday with South Carolina and Georgia distributors to finalize agreements that will run rum into area stores, restaurants and bars.
The company is also working with local tourism groups and resorts to bring more visitors.
After visiting, Krista Bright, concierge of the Oceanfront Residence Club on Daufuskie, said she will recommend guests come to the distillery.
"I came to check it out and get the scoop on the company so I could answer my guests' questions, and I am so impressed," she said. "This is a fantastic stop."
The company also fills a big need, Bright said.
"There are not many places on the island to get good hard liquor," she said. "So this will definitely be popular among the locals, as well."
Chase said the company may expand in the future. There are even plans to grow sugar cane to replace the granulated sugar used now.
Each bottle is hand-sealed and the batch and bottle number handwritten on the label. That means customers can learn the history of their rum -- the days it was fermented, distilled and bottled.
"This tells people how handcrafted their individual bottle of rum is and all that goes in to it," Chase said. "There is both a science and an art to making rum. The science was part of my education, and the art is just trial and error. You have to keep trying until you find a good product. The response so far has been overwhelming, so I think we've done just that."