Wednesday, April 30, 2014

2014 Miami Rum Festival a Review in Pictures

     After seven days in Miami I was ready for some rest, tastings, informative meetings and parties.  This year was no exception to the rule, it was a chance to get together with so many friends in the world of rum.  It was a chance for some fun and to become aware of what all is happening with so many of the rum producers from all of over the world.   Here is a review of the week in just a few of the thousand or so pictures that I took last week.  Enjoy the week at the Airport Doubletree Hotel in Miami.

This was such a special week for all of us that were involved, and I hope you enjoy the chance to see all of the pictures of the fun and the people that make it so special. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

This is a Great Day to Just Look Upward

     After a week with my nose is a rum tasting cup and talking to a great group of wonderful people and enjoying some great rum, today is all about putting my feet up in the air and watching the sky pass by.  I just enjoy looking upward and seeing what is passing by my vantage point.  


     Sometimes it is the birds, sometimes an airplane, but no matter what does pass it is something for me to enjoy as I lie on the aft deck of the boat and chill out on a warm and beautiful Key West day.  All I can tell you is this is something that always helps calm me and make the rest of the world go away.  Today it is just the sky.  I really don't care what actually passes over right now, because the sky I holding my attention and helping me decompress after a very long, interesting and fun week at the Miami Rum Festival.  ;o)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Rum Chata: A Special Expression

     Rum Chata is a tropically inspired rum cream, with its origins in early Egypt and Spain.  Created from a world wide recipe that starts with five times distilled rum from the Caribbean.    Every delicious batch of Rum Chata is mixed up from scratch and contains its own unique blend of premium Caribbean rum, which is selected for its light and smooth character.   Take that rum and homogenize it with the finest dairy cream from Wisconsin and you have Rum Chata.

     "Chata was originally concocted by the ancient Egyptians for the Pharaohs, a feat easily as impressive as the Pyramids.   The pioneering Egyptian Horchata, which was made with chufa, also known as the tigernut, was so revered that it soon found its way to Spain during the time of the Moorish kings."   
     Today, you can find horchata made with this same recipe in most areas of Spain and remaining a very popular summertime beverage.     Chufa plantations aren't exactly a booming business in the Americas, so horchata in the Western Hemisphere is made from a slightly different recipe.   Rice based horchata is now served throughout Mexico and Central America, where the recipe has been passed down from generation to generation.   These  recipes usually include varied mixtures of rice, sugar, vanilla,
     I really enjoy working with Rum Chata, it is a very easy expression to mix with in so many cocktails, it fits well with most any thing that I have ever tried.   Today I'm in a Bajan mood, so here is a recipe that you might enjoy.
Bahama Bob's
Rum Shoppe Chata
·         1 ½ oz. Rum Chata
·         1 oz. Doorly’s XO or Other Fine Bajan  Rum 

Place all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice, shake until chilled and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.   Garnish with fresh ground Nutmeg.





Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Grand Tasting is Happening, Where are You Today?

     This is the final event of the 2014 Miami Rum Festival, and a chance to taste and talk to the people that produce your favorite rums.  It is an opportunity that few people ever get the chance to enjoy.  This a chance to sample the nearly 200 rums at the festival, and talk to the people that produce them.

     Many of my friends are here, and it is always a pleasure to learn more and more about the process of making rum and all of the ingenious methods that the master blenders have come up with to give you the wonderful tastes that you love in your personal favorite rum.  I enjoy not only seeing the friends from the rum world, but so many of my Rum Bar friends are here as well. 

    It is a world of beautiful people, great rum and a chance to be educated by the best of the best in the world of rum.   As you wander through the aisles and taste the rums, you will get the opportunity to talk with all of the people there making you more aware of all the nuances of fine rum.

     I find it a pleasure to sit at the "Ask a RumXP" booth, trying to answer questions about the rums and what we do as judges.  It is always very interesting to take the questions from the visitors, they sometimes as very unusual questions.

     People and Rums make very wonderful "bed fellows", there seems to be a fun aspect to the rum and it is a thread that runs through the people that are involved with it.  If you haven't found out about it, you still have today to get down to the  Miami Airport Convention Center and visit the Miami Rum Festival.  Tickets are available on line at  .

     I know I have really enjoyed the week of "rum fun" here in Miami and will so be looking forward to the show when it returns next year.  ;o)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Week of Special Events Hosted by Our Favorite Rum Producers

     The breakfast and lunch events of the week have been very special with an introduction to Don Pancho Origenes 8 Year Old, Koloa Hawaiian Rums, Selvarey Rums, The Real McCoy Rums, and Plantation Rums tomorrow morning.   These presentations were very nice and filling, but most important it was a chance to familiarize myself with the history, processes and most important the flavors of the rums they represent.

     Koloa introduced us to their new coconut and spiced expressionsAgricole style rum that is being developed and the new aged rums that will be coming out soon.  There are exciting things coming from Koloa and I'm glad I had the opportunity to hear about them over breakfast.  Did I mention that we also got the opportunity to try the new expressions.
as well as unavailing their plans for the new plant.  They talked about the new Hawaiian

   Selvarey Rum is another new expression from the likes of Don Pancho and Carlos.  They have a 5 year old white rum and their new Cocoa flavored rum.   The chocolate provided Don Pancho with some challenges.  Making a chocolate rum that would be able to survive the heat and shipping without the loss of flavor was a difficult task that was handled after a grueling period in the laboratory.   It is made from real Central American chocolate that was macerated and blended into the rum.   The Cocoa seems to be a hit with the first people in southern California to taste and work with it.  The white is a very smooth 5 year old rum that has been filtered to remove the color.  It is actually just shippable and very flavorful.

     The Real McCoy made our lunch today very interesting with some history of how Bailey Pryor and Richard Seale got together to formulate and create The Real McCoy line of Rums.  It seems that Bailey noticed on a picture of Bill McCoy he had that there was a barrel of rum on the deck of the Tomoka that was marked coming from Barbados.  It turned out that the rum was produced in the Foursquare Distillery.  Upon meeting with Richard Seale, he was really interested in producing the rum for the project.  I find it very interesting that the "The Real McCoy Rum" of today is produced in the same distillery as the illegal rum William McCoy was selling back during prohibition.   Today we got the chance to sample all three of the expressions, the 3 year old white, the 5 year old aged and the 12 year old aged expressions.  All three live up to being the "Real McCoy".

     Plantation is hosting the breakfast this morning, and it will be interesting to see what they have come up with this year.  Plantation did not disappoint us at all this year with new sample expressions right from the aging casks.  These were some ideas with the use of red wine casks and along with some new variants on the old ones.  It is always a pleasure to learn what Plantation has been up to over the year since I have last seen them.   I guess that is why we all look forward to the Plantation pool side breakfast each year.   ;o)

Friday, April 25, 2014

2014 RumXP Tasting Competition Winners

All of the Judges for 2014
    The Judging is over and all of the score cards have been tallied.  These are the results for the 2014 RumXP Tasting Competition.     This is a monumental task to taste and score each of the nearly 140 rum in six sittings over three days in order to give you all of these wonderful winners.

     The big winner this year was Plantation with 8 medals including 4 Best of Class.  There were a lot of new winners as well.  All in all, a good year yielding an extraordinary group of winners.  Below is the list of the winners.  I would like to send my congratulations to all of the winners for 2014.

Agricole Rhum
Best In Class - St. Barth Chic
Gold - St. Barth Cool

White Rum
Best In Class - Ocumare Platino
Gold - Skottlander
Gold - Tanduay Silver

Premium White Rum
Best In Class - Diplomatico Blanco
Gold - The Real McCoy 3
Gold - Plantation 3 Star

Gold Rum
Best In Class - Diplomatico Añejo
Gold - Hampden Estate Gold
Gold - Koloa Gold

Aged Rum
Best In Class - Plantation Original Dark
Gold - Pussers Navy Rum
Gold - Appleton VX

Aged Rum, 4-8 years
Best In Class - Plantation 5
Gold - El Dorado 8
Gold - Abuelo 7

Aged Rum, 9-12 years
Best In Class - Abuelo 12
Gold - Real McCoy 12
Gold - Medellin 12

Aged Rum, 13-18 years
Best In Class - Pussers 15
Gold - El Dorado 15
Gold - Flor de Caña 18

Aged Rum, 19-21 years
Best In Class - El Dorado 21
Gold - Centenario 20

Premium Aged Rum
Best In Class - Don Q Gran Anejo
Gold - Ocumare Anejo Especial Golden Reserve
Gold - Plantation 20th Anniversary

Super Premium Rum
Best In Class - Mt Gay 1703
Gold - Ron Barcelo Imperial Premium 30th Anniversary
Gold - Centenario 25

Ultra Premium Reserve Rum
Best In Class - Brugal Papa Andres

Special Cask
Best In Class - Plantation Guyana 2005
Gold - Plantation Jamaica 2001
Gold - Plantation Trinidad 1999

Dark Rum
Best In Class - Lost Spirits Navy Style Rum
Gold - Koloa Dark
Gold - Goslings Black Seal

Flavored Rum
Best In Class - Koloa Coconut
Gold - Admiral Nelson Vanilla
Gold - Blue Chair Bay Coconut
Gold - Selvarey Cacao

Spiced Rum
Best In Class - Bayou Spiced
Gold - Blue Chair Coconut Spiced
Gold - Blackheart

Overproof Rum
Best In Class - Plantation Overproof Original Dark
Gold - Rum Fire
Gold - Lost Spirits Navy Style Rum


An Evening at the Bacardi Penthouse

     One of the highlights of the Miami Rum Festival is the visit to the Bacardi Penthouse for their annual party.  This year was no exception and an enjoyable moment it was.   The combination of great guitar music, food and fine cocktails made this evening as wonderful as it always is.
      The Bacardi family always are most gracious hosts, offering their wonderful penthouse and museum to entertain the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival VIPs one evening during the week.  

     The tradition of bringing the RumXP back into the tasting room to sample new expressions was continued last night as well.   A new expression of what will become Gran Reserva was tasted and described by Willie Ramos for our information.   This is a part of the Bacardi Party that I always enjoy.  It is great information that will help as they introduce the rums in the future. 

     A special thanks again to the people of Bacardi for their hospitality.  ;o)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Grand Introduction of Origenes Reserva 8 Year Old

     Today begins the series of breakfasts and lunches then evening events to introduce us to all of the new brands of rums that will be available to the world in the very near future.  The highlight of today is Don Pancho Fernandez and Carlos E. Esquivel G introducing the new Don Pancho Origenes Reserva 8 Year Old Expression.   This one along with its older brothers will be here in America in June or July this year.   It will be called Don Pancho Origenes Reserva here in the United States and will also have a new label that was just approved this week.

     The entire line of Don Pancho Origenes anOrigenes are the fruition of his dreams of making a nearly perfect rum for the world to enjoy.  These rums are Don Pancho Fernandez's children and at 75 years old he is a very proud parent ready to introduce them to the world.   Since his early days in Cuba working for Havana Club he has dreamed of producing high quality traditional "Cuban style" rums that were good enough to put his name on them, these Don Pancho Origenes Rums are those rums.

     The Don Pancho Origenes Reserva 8 Year Old Rum has a beautiful dark Mahogany color with a very warm balanced aroma of sweetness and wood.  It is like some other rums that I have tasted in that I can't keep my nose out of the glass.  The first sip sends notes of the distinctive dry subtle nut and fruit flavors that inspires you just let the rum lay on your tongue for an extended time before swallowing.    The finish is warm with some pepperiness in the lingering flavor, it is just the flavor of a great rum and nothing else.  Don Pancho's Origenes Reserva 8 Year Old has nothing added, just well blended and heavy charred Kentucky Bourbon barrel aged rum.

Section of the charred Kentucky Bourbon Barrel
    According to Michael Lindell, Terlato Wines East Region Manager of Artisan Spirits, the 8 Year Origenes, 8 Year, 18 Year, and the 30 Year will be distributed in the United States.
Expression of the rum is expected to retail at $40.00 and is scheduled to be on the shelves in Florida by June or July this year.    All of the expressions of Don Pancho

     The Don Pancho Origenes Reserva will be a featured rum at the Rum Bar in Key West as soon as it becomes available to me.  It will join so many of the other Don Pancho inspired rums already being served at the Rum Bar, like Zafra, Panama Red, Fortuna and Bohemio.  I will keep everyone informed of its arrival.  I feel that everyone will really enjoy it.  ;o)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Judging the Rums

     Today is the first day of the three days of rum evaluation for the RumXP Competition.  We started the day with a good breakfast, an organizational meeting and then it was off to the judging chambers to score the first set of rums submitted for evaluation.   These are blind tastings, we score these rums first on appearance, (0 to 10 Points) aroma, (0 to 20 points) taste, (0 to 50 points) and finally finish (0 to 20 points).  The scores are then added up to give the final composite score that the rum was awarded.  In a way like scoring ice skating, different parts of the performance are given points and the composite is the important number.  This morning we were seated at a table with 20 glasses of rum sitting in front of us, 2 agricole rhums, 10 white rums and 8 gold rums.   That is three categories of rums, and the rums  are only scored against in the category that they are a part of.  

    It is 11 o'clock so let the tasting begin!   It will take between 25 and 45 minutes to sample all of the 20 rums we have before us.  It is necessary to cleanse the palate between each of the expressions in order to score each of the rums fairly.   You need to eat a piece of a very bland cracker and wash it down with water before moving on to the next expression.   Going through the process of first holding the rum up to the light to see if it is clear or cloudy, and if there is anything in the appearance that is particularly attractive to the eye.  Next the glass is swirled and you sniff the aroma emitted from the rum.  Now it is time to taste the expression and note how it appeals to you and how it finishes.

     Finally you total up the composite score for the expression and you are ready to move on to the next one.   This process is repeated for all 20 of the rums that were presented to us in the first round of the competition then again for each of the succeeding rounds. 

     Now comes the fun, we turn in our score sheets and get to see which rums are really appealing to our palates.  Sometimes you are really surprised when you go in for the reveal.   Good notes are taken and it is now time to play or just relax somewhere for a few hours until 3pm rolls around and it is time to begin round 2.   The process will be repeated for the next two days.  After three days of judging the rums and the data is scored,  Friday evening we will present the awards for each of the categories.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Miami Rum Renaissance Gets Underway Today

     After a great day o "Conchy Tonking" our way from Key West to Miami, we have arrived to the beginning of a week filled with great friends and fantastic rum.  We made stops at Baby's Coffee, Cracked Conch Café, Holiday Isle Tiki Bar for an original Rumrunner, Discount Liquors, and Jimmy Johnson's Big Chill before hitting the Florida Turnpike to the Doubletree Hotel and Convention Center for the start of the 2014 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival,

     Matthew Robold, the "Rum Dood" and the staff of the Cana Rum Bar from Los Angeles ran a "pop-up" bar at the Broken Shaker on Miami Beach.  The event featured Plantation Rum and a great time was had by all of us that attended.  

     In addition to the fine cocktails that were provided, we engaged is a lively ping pong extravaganza.  The evening was a first chance for all of us that are involved  in the event to get together since last year.   A lot of fun was had by all who attended, not to mention a chance to enjoy Matthew Robold's fine cocktails before heading back to the hotel and a good night's sleep before the judging gets underway at 11 am tomorrow morning.

     Keep up with the fun and all the adventures we are experiencing as we get to learn about many of the new rums and what the distillers and distributors are up to this year.  ;o)


Monday, April 21, 2014

Travel Day Today

     It is finally here and I'm headed to Miami with John Gibbons and Dan Silvers for the fun week of rum and friends at the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival.
    We are going to be "Conchy Tonkin" our way from Key West to Miami, this is going to be a blast.   Planning on hitting many of the fun establishments along the way.   It is always a fun time when you travel with these guys.

     I'll be keeping you filled in on all of the happenings with pictures and stories of new and well visited rums this week.   I know that my friends from Panama, Barbados, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Mauritius and many more will be present to fill our heads with knowledge about their rums and fill our bellies with fine rum.

     If you haven't gotten your tickets yet, they are still available through  their web site .     Hope that you enjoy my travels through the Miami Festival of Rum as much as I will living and sharing it with you.  ;o)