Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Weather has Returned to "Normal" for the Keys

     The winds and weather is finally turning nice and we were able to get back on the water again after a three month hideous.   The warmth of the sun and getting a little tune-up on my tan is a wonderful thing.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

If the Governor Signs, the “Take Down the Wall" Legislation Will be Law

Gov. Rick Scott
     It has been a long road, but it looks like we will be able to buy spirits in the grocery stores and other larger retail outlets in Florida.  The state has a chance to get into the 21st century with 28 other states.

     The Distilled Spirits Council today praised the Florida Legislature for passing SB 106, legislation that would allow spirits sales in grocery stores.   The legislation, known as the "Take Down the Wall" bill, allows spirits to be sold alongside wine and beer in grocery stores. Currently, retailers must segregate spirits into a side store separated by a wall, inconveniencing consumers. 

     "Florida consumers want a modern marketplace where they can purchase spirits, wine and beer at the same time and same place - like in most states," said Distilled Spirits Council Vice President Jay Hibbard. "We applaud the Florida legislature for listening to its constituents and urge Governor Scott to sign this pro-consumer legislation." 

     Following Governor Rick Scott's signature, Florida will become the 28th state to allow the sale of spirits, wine and beer in large retail locations such as grocery stores and big-box retailers.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Sailor Jerry Teams up with Harley-Davidson

     Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum has signed a multi-year partnership with Harley-Davidson ahead of the motorcycle company’s 115th anniversary in 2018.   To kick-off the partnership, Sailor Jerry will unveil a series of 22 customized Harley-Davidson motorcycles designed by US artists including Harley-Davidson’s own Styling Team, at a celebration this spring.
     Acclaimed tattoo artists Jonathan Valena, Oliver Peck, and Megan Woznicki have designed a selection of bikes as well as Miami-based muralist, Alexander Mijares, celebrated automotive designer, Michael Ramirez and artist L’Amour Supreme.   The artists were tasked with interpreting the flash art style of Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins into their motorcycle designs.   The motorcycles will be unveiled at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee on 2 May.
     Following the celebrations, the bikes will be available for viewing around the US all summer at alcohol retailers, Sailor Jerry’s Fleet Week New York celebrations and the Harley-Davidson Museum.   There will be a series of shared events from the two brands in the run up to Harley-Davidson’s 115th anniversary.

     “Between our shared American roots, values and traditions, collaborating with Harley-Davidson is an exciting and natural fit,” said Sailor Jerry senior brand manager Josh Hayes.   “Harley-Davidson shares Sailor Jerry’s genuine Americana values for freedom and living outside the lines. With Harley-Davidson, we look forward to a long partnership that celebrates our shared brand beliefs.”   Scott Beck, Harley-Davidson director of marketing, added: “Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum and Harley-Davidson are all about freedom of expression and customization, whether that is expressed by a Norman Collins tattoo or a bike. We are struck by the natural ties Sailor Jerry has to the motorcycle culture.”

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Abuelo Finish Collection Tasting Friday at the Rum Bar at the Speakeasy Inn

     Friday April 28th, Bahama Bob Leonard will be at the Rum Bar at the Speakeasy Inn to introduce you to Abuelo Finish Collection.  The tasting begins at 4:00 pm through 6:00 pm.  This is your opportunity to try these impressive rums.   These are three of my favorite expressions, because of the awesome flavors that the wine cask aging adds to this already fine 12 year old Abuelo rums.

    Ron Abuelo XV Finish Collection is a masterful series rums that is a limited edition created by the master blender at  Panama's Varela Hermanos Distillery. There are three expressions in the series, Napoleon, Tawny and Oloroso.   The names were chosen to reflect not just the character of the finishing wood, but also the places that inspired their creation: Napoleon for Cognac and France, Oloroso for Sherry and Spain and Tawny for Port and Portugal. 

      NAPOLEON: What better name for a rum finished in barrels that have contained cognac!  The French oak of these barrels and the delicate and complex flavor and aroma of cognac, with its characteristic fruity sweetness, give Napoleon its distinctive character, because different notes appear to those that we traditionally have in our rums.  The aroma has notes of wood, fruit and a hint of cacao.  On the palate it has a dry fruit and wood with a lingering elegant finish.

     OLOROSO: Finished in “botas” of Jerez Oloroso (Fragrant Sherry) made of American oak.  The Jerez Oloroso is a really aromatic wine with a lot of body and mildly sweet.  It is perhaps the expression that most maintains the traditional character of our rums, but with a more complex character, which gives it its final finish where the notes of dried fruit can be distinguished.  First pass by the nose give you a complex blend of citrus peel and smokey wood.  In the mouth there are notes of citrus and toasted almonds in the rear of the mouth and a long and enjoyable finish.

     TAWNY:  means “amber or dark brown”.  This was the name given by the British in the XVII century to the most aged wines from Oporto, because of their color. As a dessert wine, it gives our rum a special and distinctive sweetness with notes of “berries,” but without notably transforming its characteristics.  On the nose this is unique with a sweet and dryness that is a blend of the wood and the berries.  In the mouth, there is a natural sweetness of a well rounded blend.  The flavors in the mouth seem to remain for an inordinate amount of time with woody and fruited notes at the finish.

    Please join us on Friday afternoon for a couple of hours of rum tasting and education.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Back on the Water after Three Months as a "Landlubber"

     Finally getting my water fix. for the past three months between the work in North Carolina, Miami Rum Festival and a few other things we haven't been out on the "camper".  This morning we headed out to Bahia Honda and after a really nice ride here we are finally relaxing in the sunshine and enjoying the beautiful day.

     Made it to Bahia Honda and the boat is Tied up and the Kayak is
in the water.  Time to head out as see what we can find.  There is a little coral rock about 3/4 of a mile out into the Atlantic side from the old Railroad bridge that we haven't gotten over to in quite a while, so off we go.  A little bit choppy still, but undaunted, we head out to the rock and do some exploring.  The tide pools are really heat, there are many species of young fish riding in and out with the wave action over the pools.  Really interesting.  Several of the succulents growing in the tidal zone are starting to bloom with their tiny purple flowers, along with a few stranded sponges.

     The sunset cruise in the kayak out to one of the marker buoys for sunset is another highlight of every trip out to Bahia Honda and we didn't miss it on this trip.  Two rum cocktails in hand and away we go for an hour or so rocking along with the waves.  After returning it is time to turn on the blue courtesy lights and sit on the aft deck and enjoy the rest of the evening under the blue led lights.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

RumJava: The New Rum on the Scene

     RumJava Artisan Crafted Rums are all natural and inspired by the Brian and Mindy Cunninghams’ passion for Caribbean culture, rum, and coffee.   Created from Java'mon Coffee cocktails made in Cruz Bay, St. John bars, RumJava’s handcrafted selection of unique fine Rums are infused with five of their Java'mon coffee blends and other natural flavors. 

     RumJava is twice distilled in a copper stack pot from Florida sugarcane at the Citrus Distillery until it has reached between 80 to 90% ABV.    RumJava has been personally nurtured by the Cunninghams through every step of their proprietary process.  The formulation, mixing, testing, and tasting has resulted in this wonderfully unique expression. The rum is infused freshly roasted Java’mon Coffee beans to yield the perfect coffee flavor and then the natural ingredients for added give the blend a nice depth and balance.  This expression has subtle notes of vanilla, hazelnut, chocolate, caramel, coconut, cinnamon, oak, and coffee.  The result is a unique collection of smooth, silky, flavorful rums and rum creams unlike any other.   RumJava is proudly offered as a 100% handcrafted, hand filled, and hand sealed, and infused product that they are sure you will enjoy. “RumJava is a truly one of a kind expression and yes, it really is rum!”

Learn More at

Monday, April 24, 2017

The 2017 RumXP Tasting Competition Results

     The 2017 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival is in the books.  It was a really fun week as usual in Miami.  Lots of new faces and great to see many of the old ones.  The judging, the parties, and the grand tastings all made for some really fun and interesting times.  Here are the winners in the 2017 RumXP Tasting Competition.

RumXP Award Winners 2017
Antelope Island Rum - Best In Class
Diplomatico Planas - Gold
Texas Silver - Gold
Plantation 3 Stars - Gold
Maggie's Farm White – Gold

Plantation OFTD 69% - Best In Class
Lost Spirit Navy Style 61% - Gold
Mantawny 47% - Gold
Florida Mermaid – Gold

Carmelita's Spiced Orange - Best In Class
Alligator Dark Chocolate - Gold
Plantation Pineapple - Gold
Rumjava Signature - Gold
Rumjava Cacao'mon – Gold

Black Magic Black Spiced - Best In Class
Carmelita's Dark Spiced - Gold
Brinley Gold Spiced – Gold

Maison La Mauny 40% Hors XO - Best In Class
Trois Riveres VSOP 40% Reserve Speciale - Gold
Trois Riveres Rhum Vieux Agricole Hors D'Age 1998 2000 2007 - Gold
Trois Riveres 50% Rhum Blanc Agricole – Gold

Velho Barreiro Cachaca 40% - Best In Class
Paratiana Ouro Cachaca 42% - Gold
Werneck Gold 40% Cachaca – Gold

Monymusk Classic Gold - Best In Class
Maggie's Farm Single Barrel - Gold
Plantation Original Dark - Gold
Tiburon - Best In Class
Plantation Jamaican 2002 - Gold
Monymusk Special Reserve - Gold
Ron Del Barrilito - Gold
Plantiaton Barbados 5 Years – Gold

Premium Aged
Mount Gay XO - Best In Class
Cihuatan 12 - Gold
Centenario 20 - Gold
Plantation XO 20 - Gold
Centenario 25 - Gold

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Things You See in Miami

     Thursday night was the RumJava Launch party, which was a real great evening, but leaving the Langford Hotel in downtown Miami, I ran across a real 16 foot tall. Jumbee.  Now the Jumbee is a very interesting figure that comes from Caribbean folklore and can be a very scary demonic creature if you believe in many of the Caribbean cultural beliefs.

          A Jumbee is a type of mythological spirit or demon in the folklore of some Caribbean countries.   Jumbee is the generic name given to all malevolent entities. There are numerous kinds of jumbees, reflecting the Caribbean complex history makeup, drawing on African, Amerindian, East Indian, Dutch, English, and even Chinese mythology.   Different cultures have different concepts of jumbee's, but the general idea is that people who have been evil are destined to become instruments of evil (jumbee) in death. Unlike the ghost folklore which represents a wispy fog-like creature, the jumbee casts a dark shadowy figure.

     It gives you an interesting feeling when you walk out on to a dark street and meet one of these Jumbee's.

     Results from the Rum XP judging will be published here on Monday. along with the other wrap up stories from this years Miami Rum Renaissance Festival.  Tonight the Yolo Rum Clear Launch Party.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Day 3 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival

     These days are just flying by, the days turn into nights and the nights back to day before you even know it.  Especially today where we finished the night with the RumJava launch party and started today with breakfast presented by RumJava.  This is an interesting operation, founded in St. Johns along with Brian and Mindy Cunningham.  Fueled by Mindy's passions for fine coffee and  Brian's passion for rum, this is a real snapshot of their marriage.  Their flourishing coffee business, Java'mon was the basis of the RumJava and its creation.   They took rum produced in Citrus Distilling's Pot-column still and infused it with their "Signature Blend" coffee beans along with some added flavors to create their Rum Java Signature Rum.  They have created a total of 5 expressions that are now available here in South Florida and coming soon to the Caribbean.

     Round 5 of the rum judging was next with the aged rums with no age statement.  These are some of the more enjoyable expressions to judge.  The reveal had very few surprises, but an enjoyable session anyway as it contained many of the rums that I enjoy on a regular basis.

     Ok, its is lunch time and today it is brought to us by George Manska, the mastermind of Neat Tasting Glass.  George availed all of us of the latest scientific information about how we all taste things and the effect of the dropping the idea that your tongue can sense different aspects of flavor on different parts of the tongue.
Aroma makes up the  major part of what you taste and the flavors that you sense.  He covered why the NEAT Glass can give you a truer and more consistent evaluation of the aromas from your spirits compared to conventional glassware.

     The sixth and final session of judging paired us with the Gold Rums and the Overproof Rums.  Gold was really enjoyable as was the overproof.  Overproof rums these days have improved in quality tremendously over the past few years, but by the end of the session, my lips and mouth was numb.  Good thing they were saved until last.

     Tonight is the welcome party for all of the rum producers that are presenting their wares this year in the "Grand Tasting that begins tomorrow at 1 PM when the doors open.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Day 2 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival

Our Diplomatico Crew
     Today is starting out with a bang.  Diplomatico Rum of Venezuela hosted out breakfast.  They are
here to tell us about their new packaging and the changes being made to two of their traditional rums.

Diplomatico Planas
     The Blanco is getting a complete make over and the Reserva is getting a more subtle makeover.

        The Blanco has become Planas which is named for the valley in
Venezuela where the Diplomatico Distillery is located.  It also has a new bottle that is modeled after the traditional bottle used for the Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, their flagship traditional rum.  The rum is blended with rums up to six years old. and presented at 47% ABV.  The Planas was launched in the United States back in January and will be availablle throughout the US by years end.

     Reserva has been renamed to Mantuano, meaning a person with great taste and appreciates the finest things in life.   The new Mantuano has a richer taste and a higher percentage of pot still rum in the blend when compared to the Reserva and presented at 40% ABV.  The oldest rum in the blend is eight years old.  The label also has been redone to be more like the Reserva Exclusiva label.

     The Reserva Exclusiva has had no changes to the rum, but there is a slight modernization of the label.  Still the same fine expression that it has always been.

     There is a hint that in the fourth quarter of this year there will be a new technically innovative expression arriving from the rum masters at Diplomatico.

     Round three of the judging is in the books and the white rums fell under our scrutiny in this session.  Several really nice expressions again this year have appeared.
Richard Davis

     Lunch was one of those rare and wonderful experiences.  Richard Davis, Owner of Neptune Rum came here to the United States to give us an exclusive first ever here int states taste of his new Neptune Rum.
The Only Bottle in the US

     This is another of the Richard Seale Foursquare Distillery creation.   Richard Davis tells us that it is a 100% pure rum expression and that he is excited to have Foursquare Distillery producing and blending his rum.  He tells us that quality of the rum speaks for itself.

     The fourth judging session was very interesting, Agricole and Cachaca.   The Agricole's and the
Cachaca's are very unique expressions and require time to evaluate as they are very different and complicated.

     Later in the evening it was off to the Pawnbroker Bar at The Langford Hotel for the Launch Party for Rum Java Brand with its group of new expressions.  I love these special events that the rum companies set up for the judges.  WOW!!! What a great evening, tin pan steel drums and Havana style dancing lovelies.  Great time enjoying the rum, food and the entertainment.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Day One of the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival

     The day started at 9:30 am with the welcome breakfast hosted by the Rob and Robin Burr.  After a nice breakfast and a chance to get together for the first time with all of the judges, many of who we haven't see each other since last year.  All of the particulars were discussed and it was time for for the opening round of the judging.

     Off we went into the judging room for the first round of tastings and low and behold, it is spiced, flavored and rum creams.  29 of them to be exact.  These categories are usually saved for last, but this year we get to start with them.   This is a segment of the rum category that is tough on the judges because it is very hard to properly cleanse the palate between expressions.  This means a lot of water and bland crackers to wash away the taste of the previous one.  One by one the tasting moved ahead until they were all evaluated and it was time for a little break before lunch.

Robert Elliott
     Robert Elliott, owner of Marauda Rum filled us in on his Marauda Steelpan Blend Rum.  This is an interesting rum that has its roots in Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica.   A three year old column still rum from Angostura in Trinidad is blended with a three year old column still rum from Demarara in Guyana and a three year old pot still rum from Worthy Park in Jamaica to give you the very unique flavor. All of the rum is aged in first filled American Oak barrels and blended at barrel strength before it is reduced to 80 proof at bottling.  The three rums unite to give this rum a unique full flavor with a little bit of funkiness.

     Round two of the judging was premium aged rums.  This was an improvement over the flavored and spiced rums of the first round.  Only 10 expressions to judge made it a lot easier on us compared to the 29 in the morning session.

     Many of the gang are headed to the Mai Kai for the evening, but I feel like staying in and doing some writing and rest up up for the next few days when things will be getting a bit wilder and a lot more rum involved.  I'm looking forward to the Diplomatico breakfast tomorrow morning along with sessions three and four of the six total.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I'm at the 2017 Miami Rum Festival This is Going to be Great

Rainy Ride Down the Keys
     I rolled out of Key West in the pouring rain at about 11 in the morning.  The rain persisted until I got to Islamorada, the rain came to a stop, but it stayed overcast all of the way to Miami.    The traffic moved a a steady pace and there were no real slowdowns anywhere along the way.  The weather took a lot of the usual fun of "Conchy Tonkin'" my way to Miami.

The View  from the ninth floor is a nice one of the airport
     As I arrived at the Doubletree Miami Airport and checked there were several of the judges that had already arrived.  It is always good to see everybody at the start of the festival each year.  Tonight will be informal gatherings at the bar in the lobby to see who is arriving tonight. For me, it is an evening here at the hotel doing some writing and getting my act together for the rest of the week.

      The day starts out tomorrow bright and early at 9:30 am with breakfast with the Burr's welcoming all of us to the festival.  Then we are off to the first judging session at 11, Lunch with Marauda Rum, and tonight many of the judges and friends are loading onto a bus and heading to Fort Lauderdale for an evening at the world famous Mai Kai Restaurant and show lounge for dinner, cocktails and the great Polynesian dancing show.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"Conchy Tonkin'" Day - Traveling up the Keys to the 2017 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival

     Today is the that I get to drive up the keys on the way to the Doubletree Inn at the airport for a week of rum, parties and good friends.  This is a trip that always seems to turn out as an adventure rather than just another traversing of the keys.

     Even if there are no stops along the way it is a great drive.  The Overseas Highway always manages to give me a glimpse of something new every time that I drive up it.  Looking through the windshield on this road will give you a new outlook on the world.

     Hopefully I'll see many of you at the 2017 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival on Saturday or Sunday.

Monday, April 17, 2017

What is Aquafaba?

     I have a number of friends that are Vegan, and this creates some problems for me when I’m creating cocktails for them.  Today I ran across Aquafaba, this is the answer to take egg out of your cocktails.  Aquafaba is the thick liquid that results from soaking or cooking legumes, such as chickpeas, in water for an extended period of time.   It's the translucent viscous goop you probably rinse down the drain when you open a can of chickpeas.   In vegan cooking circles, it's become the silver bullet to making airy meringues and expert rum sours without any eggs.

      You can find many uses for this and you can substitute Aquafaba for eggs and egg whites wherever needed, the rule of thumb is: 1 Tbsp. for one yolk, 2 Tbsp. for one white, and 3 Tbsp. for one whole egg.   The consistency of your Aquafaba makes a difference. You can thicken it by reducing watery Aquafaba about 25 percent on the stove to thicken it up.  If it's already thick (as it sometimes is from canned chickpeas), you don't have to reduce. With some trial and error, you'll get a feel for it.

Bahama Bob's Vegan Rum Sour

  • 1 1/2 oz.  Pilar Dark Rum   
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • 1/2 oz. Agave Nectar
  • 2 Tblsp. Aquafaba

Place all ingredients into a shaker filled with  5 to 7 ice cubes and shake until chilled.  Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice and garnish with a lemon wheel.