After a few days of recovery and reflection, we have come down from the lovely cloud of rum we floated upon for three days in Miami. The Straw Hat Barmen had the pleasure of attending the largest rum festival in the world.
Rum Renaissance is held every year in Miami. It attracts people from many facets of the rum industry: distillers, bartenders, rum collectors and enthusiasts.
Rums from all around the world are offered for tasting. We sipped our way around the world in rum, including rums not yet available in the United States. We tasted rums from Austria, Japan and Peru, just to name a few unusual countries. This year “Rums of Puerto Rico” had an enormous setup in the convention hall. The Ron del Barrilito was a standout rum from Puerto Rico. Available in two and three stars, it is an excellent rum aged in sherry casks. This one of the oldest rums in Puerto Rico but probably one you’ve never heard of. They have manufactured rum since 1880. The Ron del Barrilito brand won festival awards in the Aged Rum and Gold Rum categories.
Cockspur Rum of Barbados was another stand out. This rum is easily found in most local liquor stores at a reasonable price. As their website states, they have been making the party happen since 1884.
There were even Florida rum distillers. You can find rum producers all across the state: Cape Coral (Wicked Dolphin), Fort Lauderdale (FWAYGO), and St. Augustine (St. Augustine Distillery). St. Augustine Distillery has Florida Cane Vodka and New World Gin available now. Their rum offering is coming soon. We’re very excited to try this rum when it comes out. Wicked Dolphin is a great Florida rum easily found in Publix, Total Wine and many other independent liquor stores. Drinking local is a growing movement, following on the heels of eating local.
Some other standout rums that we would recommend trying if you have an opportunity are as follows:
The Real McCoy won awards in the Aged Rum 12-15 year category for their Real McCoy 12. This richly warm rum includes notes of vanilla and citrus but has a fantastic warmness from the wood barrel. The Real McCoy also has a great Rumrunner Prohibition backstory to check out while drinking.
Lost Spirits Colonial American Inspired Rum won awards in the Overproof Rum category. According to the company’s website, this rum is their most successful to date and a harbinger of things to come. Be brave with this rum and incorporate it into a classic cocktail for an entirely new twist. Yes, it is overproof (124 proof); no, you should not be afraid of it. It has a lovely flavor profile. You can sip it straight, soften it up with a cube or two of ice, or make a Rumhattan with it. You could even blow your friends away by adding it as a float on top of a Zombie.
Bayou Rum, a Louisiana Sprits Product, had their Bayou Classic Rum mixed in a fantastic Mai Tai. They used their Bayou Satsuma Rum in place of Curacao in the cocktail for a super fresh citrus flavor.
And although I hate to gush about a rum not available in the United States yet, the Stroh 80 (160 proof) Rum was shockingly smooth and tasty. Their small booth in a Trade Only Section also offered European Chocolates infused with their rum. I tried one, then went back for two more!
Another not-yet-available-in-the-U.S. rum that stood out for us was Skotlander Spirits from Denmark. Denmark and the Caribbean have a long rum relationship. Their aged rum distilled in Denmark was unique, with hints of fruit and spice. Plus they have a great logo that instructs you to “enjoy with noble friends!”
And that is what Rum Renaissance boils down to, enjoying rum with friends. With rum, more so than any spirit, you can find something for everyone. Have a friend who likes to sip something strong flavored while smoking a cigar? Have a glass of Opthimus 25. Looking to make the perfect Pina Colada for your next backyard pool party? Try Don Q Coco Rum. Want to give your daiquiri-loving friends something with a twist? Use Plantation Original Dark and add a couple dashes of bitters to your standard recipe.
Rum has no rules. It can come from anywhere in the world, unlike Scotch and Bourbon. It is the least regulated form of alcohol. While some see this as something detrimental, I see this as something to revel in. So go forth, try new rums, mix new cocktails and meet new friends!
– Christina Jordan