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, 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.