Monday, April 30, 2012

Recovery Day: Ease Back and Relax

     These past two weeks have been very taxing on this guy, it is time for a day off  and just kick back and let the world drift by.    It is sort of cloudy and a real threat of rain today, so it is feet up and enjoy the rest.   

     If the weather lets up this afternoon, it is out on the dinghy and some cruising through the mangroves and hopefully some new pictures for the Sunday edition.   If not it is a nice day to sit on the aft deck in the Rum Lab and have a couple of glasses of really nice rum and guess what, RELAX.    Enjoy your day, I'm out for the count today.   ;o)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Partida Spirit Bird Challenge: A Tequila Mixologist Challenge

     This is going to be a real change for me, I'm entered in the Partida Spirit Bird Challenge in Key West.     Not a Rum event, but rather a Tequila event, this should be a lot of fun and we'll see if I can shift gears and be competitive mixing tequila.     The event is drawing mixologists from all over South Florida and should be a great time just being involved in the event.

“Come as you are!” to The Partida Spirit Bird Challenge, a cocktail competition sponsored by Tequila Partida in Key West!

Tequila Partida, the world’s top-rated tequila, is an authentic, all-natural and ultra premium tequila made from 100% blue agave in the heart of the Tequila Valley. A favorite within a wide circle of industry experts, Tequila Partida has a clean, smooth, exceptionally pure taste that is admired by tequila aficionados worldwide.
This June, what better place to experience a perfect Partida cocktail, named the best tequila in the world by The Spirit Journal, than in the tropical paradise of Key West? Mixologists and bartenders from South Florida are invited to capture the essence of Key West and the True Spirit of Tequila in a cocktail that will wow our expert judging panel! The big showdown will take place on Sunday, April 29 from 6 to 9 pm at the Southernmost on the Beach on South Street in Key West.

     I guess all that I can say is wish me luck and we'll see if my little idea for a tequila cocktail will work.     Keys Tequila Daiquiri is what my entry is called, but I 'll have to just wait and see how I do in my first mixologists contest like this with any type of liquor.   No matter what I'm sure that I'll have a fun time being involved in the Partida Spirit Bird  Challenge.    Cheers!    ;o)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Beach Daze

    There is something about walking down a beautiful sandy beach that I find very relaxing.     I think it is the combination of the ocean's din, the sea breezes, and the sand between my toes that makes me so happy when I'm there.     People  sun bathing, listening to their music and carrying on conversations is all a part of the scene as I pass by on my journey down the beach.

     Watching the power of the surf and a kiter toying with the waves is an exciting sight as I continue my ambling along the edge of the surf zone.    I guess that it is really mother nature at he best and worst as she shapes the land with the sea's power.     Together they are creating one of her most beautiful land and sea scape's.   

     Man has learned to enjoy this meeting of the two major masses of our earth and have fun as they clash to tear each other apart.    Take some time to visit this spectacle in the near future and enjoy your day in the sun.  ;o)   

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fee Brothers: Bitters, Cordials, and Syrups

     The spirits and juices are all very important to a cocktail, but you need the "Salt and Pepper" of cocktailing to put that finishing touch on the product.   This is where Fee Brothers and their line of fine products come into play.    The four brothers started out in the wine business.   They made their own wine as well as importing European and California wines to the liquor store in Rochester, New York.     The also handled various brands of liquor that were mostly stored in wooden barrels in the store.    

     During the prohibition era Fee Brothers continued to make altar wines, something that was legal to produce and was sold throughout the United States.    The brothers would travel out to individuals homes and set up a barrel with grape concentrate,water, sugar and yeast to make wine, then return a few months later to check on the progress of the wine.    They also made a non-alcoholic beer, that was labeled with "do not add yeast to this product as it is likely to ferment", kind of a creative way around actually producing ans alcoholic beverage.    Most of these were mad by in experienced people and really didn't taste very good, so Fee Brothers began to produce flavorings and cordial syrups to overcome this problem.

     After Prohibition, the Fee Brothers found that the wine and the Cordial syrups were the real profit items and moved  the direction of the business in that direction.     This appeared to be the right direction because the Fee Brother's operation sells their 80 plus products world wide and is one of the most well known by bartenders and cocktailers as well.

     The use of the Fee Brother's line of products in the bar is like the spice cabinet is to a chef, these products add the personal touch to all of the cocktails.    They make syrups, bitters of all flavors, and flavored waters that all are there to raise your cocktail's flavor to a new level.    Try this when you start your next gathering and see your guest's eyes raise as the try your enhanced cocktails and beverages.    ;o)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

International Rum Lab

     The gathering of the international rum flock commenced yesterday afternoon on the boat and it turned out to be an unforgetable event.     We started out working on some new cocktails for Key West Rum, but it turned into a full out mixology extravaganza.   The British Tiki Mixology Team fresh off of their championship winning efforts at the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival were ready to party and mixed up some of their fun fare for all of us.     It was a great chance for many of the Rum XP's to let their hair down in Key West away from the pressures of the festival and have some fun.

     Mean while, the work of the lab was completed and we ended up with several new cocktails that bring the flavors of the new Key West Rum to the forefront.    This new rum that will be on the shelves in September or October is a great mixer, it does not clash with anything that we tried mixing it with and the cocktaill flavors were excellent.    This is going to be a must have in your liquor cabinet for making those premium cocktails.

Key West Coconutty  

  • 1 1/2 oz. Key West Gold Rum
  • 3/4 oz. Amaretto
  • 3/4 oz. Cream of Coconut
  • 3/4 oz. Grapefruit Juice
Place all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled.  Pour into a collins glass filled with ice and garnish with an orange wheel and a sprig of mint.

      With the finishing of the lab work it was off to the Hurricane Hole and a continuation of the party. This night was filled with Karaoke, food and more fun cocktails.    All in all a great afternoon into night Rum Lab and party in Key West for a crazy group of rum lovers.     ;o)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Results are In: 2012 Rum XP International Tasting Competition

   The final results for the 2012 International Tasting are in and there were so many great rum in the competition this year.   All of the Rum XP's spent a lot of time over three days evaluating these rum and we hope that you all enjoy them as much as we did.    This is a competition that is held in high esteem and it is an honor to be a part of it and an honor to have been a part of the panel.   ;o)

The 2012 RumXP International Tasting Competition was held at the Deauville Beach Resort on Miami Beach April 18 to 20 as part of the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival.
More than 25 members of the International Rum Expert Panel participated and more than 100 of the finest rums in the world were presented for evaluation.
The RumXPs were sequestered in their tasting room for three days of blind tasting trials. The rums were grouped and judged in categories of white, gold, aged, old aged, premium aged, dark, spiced, flavored and overproof.
Their collective expertise as a group of judges is unrivaled in the spirits world. Their combined experience spans many dozens of countries and hundreds of brands. They are authors, lecturers, trainers, historians, journalists, consultants, collectors, proprietors, mixologists and promoters of rum.
Gold - Best In Class
1 Barrel
Gran Añejo
Jamaica 2000
Plantation XO
20th Anniversary
Poesia Cachaça
Rhum J.M. White
SantaTeresa Araku
Siesta Key Spiced
Panama Red

10 Cane
Atlantico Platino
Bermudez 1852
Brugal 1888
Brugal Ron Añejo
Dictador 12
Dictador XO
DonQ Coco
Dos Maderas
PX 5+5
Dzama Blanc
Prestige 84°
Medellin 8
Prichard’s Peach
Mango Rum
Siesta Key
Tiki Lover’s

Private Cask
Bacardi Oakheart
Botran Reserva
Clarke’s Court
Dictador 20
Diplomatico Añejo
Diplomatico Reserva
Dzama Vanilla
Rhum 10yr
Barbados 2000
Panama 2000
Rhum J.M. White
Rhum St. Barth
Vizcaya Cristal
Plantation Original
Dark Overproof
Appleton Estate
Atlantico Reserva
Bacardi 8
Barrillito 3 Star
Bohemio 15
Botran Solera
Carta Viejo Añejo
Centenario 7
Don Q Añejo
DonQ Pasion
Dos Maderas Luxus
Dzama Cuvee Noire
Flipflop Spiced
Trinidad 2000
Prichard’s Crystal
Santa Teresa Añejo
Santa Teresa
Orange Rhum
Siesta Key
SX Samba
Vizcaya Cask 21
Rum Fire

Monday, April 23, 2012

Home in Key West after 7 Days at the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival.

     It was a great show and very enlightening for me as I visited all of the booths for the past two days.     Today it was back to work at the Rum Bar this morning and now up in the office putting the final notes on the Rum Renaissance Festival.     I guess the best way to wrap it up is with a few photos.

Congratulations to all of the winners in the rum competition and especially to Plantation with 1 Best of Class and 5 Gold Medals, Way to go.

This was a great year and I really enjoyed the week, but it is good to be back in Key West where things just move at a slower pace and life is chilled again.     ;o)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rum Renaissance Day 6: The Grand Tasting

     The day that we all have been waiting for has arrived and the anticipation is running high.      All week long through the briefings and the judging and the parties, it is the wandering through the aisles of rum producer's displays is what is truly the most fun.     It is the fine rum and the beautiful servers that make this such a spectacular event, oh did I mention the great rum we get to taste all day long.    There is one more day of the Grand Tasting today, and the curtain comes down on the 2012 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival.   I plan to make the most of it and sample a few more of the fine rums and enjoy toe fabulous scenery.

     Flip Flop rums had a briefing for us over breakfast yesterday morning to make us aware of their new rums that will be readily available very soon.  This is an entry level inexpensive quality rum aimed at the younger market just getting into the world of rums.   I look at this as I did some of the rums like Bacardi Superior when I was a 21 year old.   It was inexpensive and readily available and mixed well with many things.   I think that this is a smart thing, and a niche that needs to be filled.

Now here is a look at a bunch of pictures from yesterday's Grand Tasting.  

This life keeps getting tougher and tougher, but I still feel I'm the one that can do it up right  ;o)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Rum Renaissanse Day 5: Final Judging and More Parties

      Breakfast with Plantation Rums is always a great event.  Guillaume Lamy always has a surprise up his sleeve and this year was no exception.    In addition to the new Three Star White Rum , we got to taste several of the research rums and the original Plantation offering from Jamaica.    Plantation is always bringing out new vintage rums plus it continues to add to the 5 Year collection as well.    Per tradition we enjoyed a wonderfully prepared breakfast and Guillaume's witty and informative presentation.

     Next it was off to the fifth judging session, this morning with the ultra premium offerings.   Only one left for the afternoon.

     Today's lunch meeting is also an exciting on with Brugal who is offering a new Blanco Especial and the Brugal 1888.    It was a great "island style" lunch and a tasting along with a history and explanation of the concepts behind the rums.    As usual it was great conversation and great food. 

   Final judging session was upon us and it was the flavored rums.    We all did our parts throughout the tastings and I feel that this year we will have some really fine rums that will take the awards and  we can all be proud of our work.    A few bottles of hard to find rums were shared by the panel after the final judging session to celebrate the completion of the tasting portion of this year's event.

Tito Cordero
     Party time is approaching, but first one more briefing at the Surfcomber for Diplomatico and their new Ambassador ultra premium rum.    Tito Cordero the master blender at Diplomatico was our speaker, a real honor to have the man behind the masterpiece present it to the Rum XP's.   This rum is a story all by itself, and will be in the future, but for now lets say this is an effort that starts with the soil and where the distillery is located and finishes with one of the world's finest rum offerings.

     With the introduction of the Diplomatico Ambassador complete it is time for the Diplomatico party to begin.    First it is off to the pool area to enjoy "three cubes of ice and three fingers of Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva",   This is another of the extra ordinary party's of the week and it is fitting to follow the introduction of their Ambassador.   Hula and fire dancers, great rum, so many friends to speak to.     The atmosphere is one of fun and celebration of good times and great rum, a feeling that we will carry late into the evening before heading back to the Deauville Resort  for two more events.

     Caliche from the House of Serralles is the latest offering from Rande Gerber and Roberto Serralles.       This party is in the Jazz Club here at the Deauville Beach Resort.  When Esteban Ordonez takes the helm of a party you know it is going to be fun.   This new rum really has a nice flavor, on that you can sip or mix in a premium cocktail.   The party roared on and again it was great rum and great people to enjoy the evening with.      
Esteban Ordonez
     Today begins the Grand Tasting, where everyone with a ticket can come in and enjoy all of the rum offerings of over 100 rum producers from around the world.  This is truly the highlight of the week long event and I'm so ready to get on the floor and spend some time with so many of my friends.   ;o)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Rum Renaissance Day 4: Big Parties and Many Briefings

   The morning starts with another rum breakfast with Tiki Lovers Rum from Germany as the host.   They are offering a white and dark rum for their initial offering.     They are also well known for their syrups and liqueurs.     Though these rums are not available here in the United States right now, they are working toward getting them here in the near future.    The white rum is a normal 80 proof, but the Dark is a bold 114 proof and will be a great rum for "tiki" style drinks.    Guess what it was another overproof breakfast, seems that every morning starts with the breakfast for the serious rum lover.    The company is working hard to produce their "niche" products filling a need for products that are not readily available.   Looking forward to the day when their products will be available here in the states.

     Next it was back to the judging room for round three of the six scheduled for the week.   Age dated premium rums and spiced rums are the subject for session three.

     Lunch was with a new product from Tico Libre.   It was to introduce their new low calorie rum and cola in a can.   They had us tasting two different versions of the product that I feel has really good sales potential.   Bradley Tuyn, Luyen Nguyen, Leonardo Salazar, Chris Dods, and Michelle Prue make up the management team and are working hard to launch this new product here in the states.     Libre is the name of the low calorie rum and cola in a can.    It sports a good quality rum and a cola taste made from a natural ingredient cola formula of their own.   Look for it soon in your area, a six pack in your cooler instead of beer, just perfect for the tail gait party.

     This day just doesn't want to slow down as we head back to the judging room for session four.   Aged rums and overproof rums are the subject of the last session for today.    After the conclusion of session four there was time for a few minutes at the pool before going to the Dzama briefing.

    Dzama or "ZAM" as it is actually pronounced is being offered for the first time in the United States within the next month or so.   This award winning line of rums is made in Madagascar, and is very unique in its flavor and aroma.  They are introducing a full line of rums including a vanilla flavored rum that actually has a vanilla bean in the bottle.   This is a welcome addition to the international flavor of rum these days.

     Finally it is party time!!!!   First it is off the the 8th floor of the Soho Beach Resort and the Brugal Party.   Brugal has a fine line of rums that cover the range of white to their fine aged flagship "Brugal 1888".     Their party showed the same attention to detail and fun as does their rum.   I've found a new liking for the clear rain coats and umbrellas.     The new president Paul Ross was present at the party and I believe will be addressing us at lunch today.     Anyway back to the party, great music, drink and apps kept it lively and enjoyable for all of us.    The atmosphere of the roof top garden made the party even more spectacular.

       Just when you are thinking that it can't get any better it is on the bus and off to Coral Gables and the Bacardi Penthouse for the final party of the night.     This is a very special one because it is part of the Bacardi 150 year celebration.     As usual, the elegance of the penthouse hospitality and museum area make the party a wonderful experience.    The XP's were asked to join a special tasting of some new products and to offer opinions as to which way Bacardi blenders might want to go on the products.   Always the highlight of the event for the XP's.     Pretty models to be photographed with really adds to the glamor and atmosphere of the event, not even mentioning the food and drink.     All of the components are there and the party was a complete success and the party was enjoyed by all.

     The day has been a very long one with a lot of rum that "had to be consumed", and it is time to get back to the hotel and  a little bit of sleep before it starts all over again tomorrow.   Friday is another full schedule and I need to get my strength up  to meet the challenge of another day of Miami Rum Renaissance Festival activities.   ;o)