Manchester Rum Festival

*Press Release*



Manchester’s first ever rum festival is coming to town this year, thanks to freelance drinks curator Dave Marsland, aka the Drinks Enthusiast.

Located at Revolución De Cuba, the festival will be held on Saturday 3rd June, and will boast over 40 types of rum including Bacardi, Chairman’s Reserve, Diplomático, Sailor Jerry and Mezan. Brunches, afterparties and shenanigans galore will mean it’ll be a Caribbean affair from dusk ’til dawn.

Tickets cost £15 for the festival (brunches and afterparties not included) which runs from 12pm-5pm, and include a welcome drink by sponsor Coco Re’al, along with a taster from each of the 15 stalls as you work your way round exploring the top brands.

And if that’s not enough booze for you, a team of mixologists and brand ambassadors will be on hand at the cocktail bar serving up a selection of rum cocktail favourites.*

Dave Marsland said “Rum is a staple within the Manchester bar scene, especially with the popularity of venues such as Revolución De Cuba, so I wanted to celebrate it! There’s so many incredible rum brands I felt the best way to celebrate them would be with a festival.

The festival will host entertainment, themed food and drinks offers and gifts, so we really are going all out, plus there’ll be events running throughout the day to get everyone in Manchester involved. I’m just looking forward to meeting guests on the day and seeing how popular the already much-loved brands become.”

Details for brunches and after parties and further rum promotions will be announced soon, but here’s how to purchase your ticket to the main festival –

I’ve also been able to get a few images of the cocktails on offer at the festival….these include a Bacardi Mojito, Banks Swedish Rum Punch, Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai and Pusser’s & Re’al Painkiller.

Mojito using Bacardi

Mojito using Bacardi

Swedish Rum Punch using Banks 5 Island

Swedish Rum Punch using Banks 5 Island

Mai Tai using Chairmans Reserve

Mai Tai using Chairmans Reserve

Painkiller using Pussers

Painkiller using Pussers


So there we are…the venue has been announced. The list of exhibitors is growing and there is something in the line up for those new to the category and for those growing tired of the additive laden side of the market seeking something pure and refined. This coupled with cocktails and a host of other events in the city, it looks set to be pretty amazing. Being so close to us, we’d be foolish not to attend. See you there?

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Rumfests 10th Anniversary is a Sell Out Success

*Press Release*

RumFest 2016



Saturday 22nd & Sunday 23rd October 2016 
London’s ILEC, Earl’s Court


Levi Roots with RumFest founder Ian Burrell at RumFest 2016

Thousands descended on London’s ILEC over the weekend for a very special edition of RumFest. Celebrating a decade of championing rum culture in the UK, organisers pulled out all the stops to mark the milestone with hundreds of rums from around the world and special guests including Levi Roots and Beach Bum Berry. Tastings, masterclasses and seminars gave an incredible insight into the world of rum for both newcomers and aficionados across the weekend, with the spirit of the culture brought to life with live music and RumFest’s renowned Carnival Hour. 2016 also saw the return of The Rum Auction raising over £4,000 for charity. Full details of the event can be found via The RumFest website.

Over 400 rums were on offer at this year’s RumFest, presented by distillers and blenders from all corners of the globe and all available to sip, savour, buy and take home. Well-known brands like Bacardi, St Nicholas Abbey, Diplomatico and Mount Gay showcased some of their lesser known gems while ticket-holders were given the chance to discover and sample newcomers like Cornwall’s own Dead Man’s Fingers and India’s Wild Tiger. Golden Tot tokens made a welcome return to give the more discerning drinker access to ultra-premium and rare rums, some of which retail for over £200 a bottle.

Those looking to heighten their knowledge of one of the most exciting spirits in the world, took part in intimate seminars and masterclasses over the weekend. Diplamatico presented some its newest releases and Mount Gay‘s master blender Allen Smith gave an exclusive UK first tasting of its limited edition pure pot still and column distillate rums. Sam Smallman of Rococo chocolates delved into Rum and Chocolate pairings in his third year at the festival, while newcomers were taught about rum tasting notes and vocabulary by Kim Lahiri to discover the key aromas in their favourite tipple.

On the main stage Saturday, RumFest founder Ian Burrell was on hand to take guests and bidders through rums on offer a the Rum Auction and a grand total of £4,000 was raised and all to donate to Max’s Foundation, a charity dedicated to helping detection of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and other heart conditions in pre-adolescent children. Celebrity chef Hasan De Four made a RumFest return and cooked up a storm to demonstrate how to get rum in the kitchen, while Jeff ‘Beachbum’ Berry told the story of the founding father of Tiki, Don the beachcomber. Sunday’s main stage hosted a takeover of the famous Levi Roots as he showcased a tasting of his new restaurant Levi’s Caribbean Smokehouse. The revered master blender Joy Spence was interviewed by Ian Burrell with a tasting of Appleton Estate rums and bartenders competed for a trip to Barbados in the fierce Doorly’s Rum Competition.

Kicking off the rum-fuelled weekend on the Friday, the trade-only Boutique RumFest returned for a seventh year providing a platform for the industry’s newcomers and independent brands. Rum wholesalers, distributors, buyers, bar professionals and importers congregated from as far afield as Panama and Japan, presenting the perfect opportunity to sample the next big thing.

Ian Burrell, Global Rum Ambassador and RumFest founder says, “We could never have predicted how successful RumFest would become when we started out all those years ago and what a ride its been. It’s great to see so many old faces back to join us in celebrating rum culture but also the new comers who are getting to know the spirit properly for the very first time. A huge thanks to the brands, blenders, ambassadors, speakers and rum lovers who came over the weekend, here’s to the next 10 years!”


We were fortunate enough to attend and personally think that it was one of the best years in terms of seminars and sheer variety of rums available. Something to suit everyone and with the addition this year of a Velier stand……it was pretty much heaven spread over a weekend. Our own write-up of the events from Friday morning until Sunday evening will follow once we’ve come down from the high of the weekend.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Toussaint Rum Coffee Liqueur

Master logo no texture Dark and rich_v2‘Inspired by a revolutionary who changed the world’ is the line that instantly hits you when you search for information about Toussaint Rum Coffee Liqueur. The revolutionary in question is Francois-Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture, the leader of the Haitian Independence Movement at the time of the French Civil War. A man who despite receiving no military training, drove Napoleon out of his country and led a nation to its independence.

Tousssaint LouvertureIn the 1700’s, Saint-Domingue (later to become Haiti) was a colony of slaves ruled by a very small French minority on the sugar and coffee plantations on the western side of the island of Hispaniola. The eastern half of the island was under Spanish control. Despite France declaring its own freedom in 1879, this ‘Liberte, egalite and fraternite’ did not apply to French Colonies. During this time, slave revolts were not uncommon, and they frequently ended in failure and with executions as the result. This story has a slightly different ending though.

Little is known of Toussaint L’Ouvertures early life, but he is thought to have been born into slavery on the plantation of Breda at Haut de Cap in Saint-Domingue somewhere between 1739 and 1746. Though born a slave, Toussaint was told of Africa by his father who had been born a free man there. He was aware that he was more than a slave, he was a man with dignity and intelligence. Toussaint was also a well-educated man. He was trained as a house servant which allowed him to learn how to read and write. He read all that he could and he became fascinated by the writings of the French Enlightenment Philosophers. They spoke of the rights of the individual to equality.

In 1789, France was rocked by the French Revolution, and this had a major knock on effect throughout the sugar plantations of Saint-Domingue. Early moderate revolutionaries began to seriously question slavery, and though they themselves were not willing to end it, they applied the rights of man to all Frenchmen. Plantation owners were enraged and fought the measure, eventually forcing the revolutionaries to retract the measures in 1791. News of this betrayal triggered mass slave revolts in Saint-Domingue, and Toussaint L’Ouverture became the leader of the largest slave revolt in history.

Starting in 1791, 12 years of brutal fighting commenced that was to finally result in Haitian Independence in 1804. Toussaint led his army rabble to numerous victories against the French, British and Spanish. In 1793, the French Revolution was in the hands of the Jacobins, the most radical of the revolutionary groups. This group was responsible for the ‘Reign of Terror’ that was a campaign to rid France of all enemies of the revolution. Though they brought indiscriminate death in France, the Jacobins were idealists who wanted to take the revolution as far as it could possibly go. Again they considered the issue of equality and voted to end slavery in all French colonies, including what was to become Haiti. Jubilation spread through Saint-Domingue and Toussaint agreed to assist the French in removing the Spanish and British. He proved to be a brilliant general, winning 7 battles in 7 days and he became a de facto governor of the colony. The British attempted to capture Saint-Domingue but this ended in a costly and humiliating failure, forcing them to withdraw in 1798.

Meanwhile in France, the Jacobins had lost power and the people were tiring of all the blood shed and this resulted in Maximilian Robespierre, their leader, being sent  to the guillotine. This ended the reign of terror, but reaction set in. As the French people wished to get back to business, more moderate leaders came and went, and these were eventually replaced by Napoleon. He ruled France as a dictator and responded to the pleas of the plantation owners by reinstating slavery. This plunged Saint-Domingue back into war. By 1803, Napoleon wanted rid of it, and he and Toussaint agreed to terms of peace. Napoleon agreed to recognise Haitian independence in return for Toussaint agreeing to retire from public life. Months later, the French invited Toussaint to negotiating meeting, promising safe treatment. Upon arrival, the French, under Napoleons orders, betrayed Toussaint and arrested him, placing him on a ship headed for France. Napoleon ordered that he be placed in a prison dungeon in the mountains and murdered by means of cold, starvation and neglect. He died in prison, but others carried on his fight for freedom. In 1804, Napoleon eventually abandoned Haiti to independence.

So that is a very brief, potted history of an amazing man.

Toussaint Rum Coffee Liqueur – 30% abv

Toussaint Bottle

Toussaint Rum Coffee Liqueur is made with aged Caribbean Rum and Arabica Coffee Beans and has been designed to give the taste of an espresso yet have reduced sugar content when compared with other liqueurs of a similar style. A three-year old rum base is blended with the Arabica coffee. Whilst developing Toussaint, the master bender selected the three-year old rum from an array of ten possibilities as they thought that it would add sweetness to the liqueur without the need for additional sugar. They also spent time choosing the specific blend of coffee to arrive at the right flavour profile. The product was developed in Haiti although is now a product made in the UK and it has gained a few awards along the way. It received a 5 Star Rating from Diffords Guide, a Gold Medal in the 2013 Drinks International Competition and a Gold Medal in the 2014 spirits Business Rum Masters. How does it taste though……..

Tasting Notes

In the glass: Toussaint is a dark mahogany with slight red flashes. It’s a little foreboding! It’s quite thick in the glass as it’s a liqueur but it’s not syrupy at all. It’s also not overly sweet which is a surprise. Dark coffee and chocolate notes jump out of the glass along with light rum elements. It’s not too complex but has a very warm and inviting character.

In the mouth: Straight away my first thought is that it is nowhere near as sweet as the two other coffee and rum based liqueurs that I own. It also dries out remarkably quickly. Dark espresso coffee hits you instantly followed by punchy heavy cocoa wrapped in a little alcohol warmth. There is no real defined rum taste to the liqueur but it’s dryness and lack of a syrupy sweetness make it very appealing to me. It has a medium finish full off coffee, chocolate and a warming spice note that is very dry. Lovely stuff.

Numerous mixed drink recipes can be found here and alongside such favourites as Espresso Martinis and White Russians, the one that jumps out at me is the Cap Haitian. This consists of 25ml Toussaint, 20ml Skipper Rum, 20ml aged Caribbean Rum and three drops of Orange Bitters. This is stirred together over ice in a rocks glass. Sounds amazing.

Toussaint retails at around £19 for a 500ml bottle. At that price it is a little more costly that its main competitor, and it is a smaller bottle…….but in MY opinion, the dryness and the fact that it carries less sweetness, makes it a far more attractive proposition. As always, feel free to pop in and try some……..

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

*information sources – BBC History, History Wiz Archives, Encyclopaedia Britannica*


Ron Santa Teresa

SANTA TERESA LOGOHacienda Santa Teresa can trace its origins back to 1796 in the fertile Aragua Valley,Venezuela, where it was founded by Martin de Tovar, or The Count of Tovar as he became known after receiving the Royal Charter for the lands of Tovar from King Charles III. Sugarcane has been grown and aguardientes distilled in the valley since the middle of the 19th century but the Venezuelan War of Independence saw the lands of the Hacienda Santa Teresa ruined. Following the war, Hacienda Santa Teresa was purchased by the Vollmer Family and rum production began in 1896.

Now, more than 200 years after the founding of Hacienda Santa Teresa and over 100 years after rum production began in earnest, the Fifth Generation of the Vollmer Family still grow their own sugarcane to produce their rum and their modest mill has grown into one of Venezuela’s large modern agro-industrial complexes. The estate also grows the coffee which is used within their Araku Coffee Liqueur and the oranges that are used to produce their Rhum Orange. Ron Santa Teresa is also the only distillery in Venezuela that produces a single brand and it is also the Fourth largest producer of rums in the world. The family prides itself on the quality of their rums and in 1909, Santa Teresa was registered as the first Ron de Venezuela brand.

Ron Santa Teresa produce a wealth of expressions ranging from Claro, Anejo, Selecto, 1796 and Bicentenario along with their flavoured expressions in Araku Coffee Liqueur and Rhum Orange. Sadly I do not have the Bicentenario expression in my collection (one day perhaps), I do however have the other expressions to tell you about.


In an attempt to retain a higher quality product, Ron Santa Teresa do not exceed a 24 hour time limit between harvesting the sugarcane and processing it to obtain the molasses and a continuous fermentation process is employed rather than batch fermentation. This shortens the process of fermentation to around 15 hours. Distillation is carried out in both pot stills and column stills and Ron Santa Teresa choose to use a combination of American White Oak and French Limousin Oak to age their rum. Venezuelan Rum MUST be aged for 2 years as a minimum.

Claro Close UpSanta Teresa Claro – 40% ABV

In keeping with the guidelines, Santa Teresa Claro is a blend of rums aged between 2 and 3 years in ex-bourbon barrels and contains rum predominantly from a column still with a small amount of pot still added.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The rum has been filtered to remove the colour gained from its two years in the barrel but what remains is still a straw yellow. There is a light hint of vanilla carried on a buttery and creamy aroma. The rum smells fresh, green and a little vegetal. There is a slight sweetness but the alcohol puts pay to any longevity in the  aromas.

In the mouth: The rum tingles on entry and then washes over your mouth with a little sweetness that seems to hit all corners before fading quite rapidly. Fresh sugarcane, vanilla and light fruit are present with a buttery edge that hints at further complexity but you just cant break down that alcohol.

As for drinks suggestions, I’ve tried it in a daiquiri and it works well. It’s not overpowered by the lime but I toned the sweetness down for my tastes.


Anejo Close UpSanta Teresa Anejo – 40% ABV

Again, the rum is predominantly from a column still with a small amount of pot still rum added. It is a blend of rums aged between 3 and 5 years in ex-bourbon barrels.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The rum is a light gold and to be honest, out of the bottle, there are only a few shades difference between the Anejo and Claro. There is however a clear progression in the aromas. Vanilla and a little burnt sugar sweetness although not massively concentrated. That buttery edge is there along with very slight oak.

In the mouth: Initially there is a sweet lead which dry quickly to an oakiness partnered by vanilla, a peppery kick and faint chocolate. It has a very light body and a medium finish that rounds out with pepper and a little chocolate. I’d say that although pleasant, it is still in mixer territory.

As for mixed drinks, when accompanied by a little ginger beer (not too fiery), lime and very light use of bitters, it makes for a refreshing drink.


Selecto Close UpSanta Teresa Selecto – 40% ABV

The rum is predominantly from a column still with a small amount of pot still rum added. It is a blend of rums aged between 3 and 10 years (an average of 8) aged in ex-bourbon barrels.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The rum is gold with red flashes and is clearly the next step on a journey. Stronger oak leads into the crispness of apple backed with deep, dark, sugary vanilla.

In the mouth: The rum is smooth and peppery with more oak and a slight hint of coffee and dark chocolate. It has a medium body and light viscosity and there is still some alcohol present but it doesn’t detract from the overall experience. The finish is consistent every time. It’s all chocolate and coffee. Very tasty stuff.

This rum is more than drinkable neat but the coffee lends itself to a coffee and rum martini. I’d suggest using the Araku too. The Selecto and Araku compliment each other well.


1796 Close UpSanta Teresa 1796 – 40% ABV

This is where the real magic happens. This rum is a blend of rums aged for between 4 and 35 years. As the solera method of ageing is used in the production of this rum, the average rum age contained in the bottle is around 18 years. The rum is from a column still with a large amount of pot still rum added and ex-bourbon barrels are used within the solera employed by Ron Santa Teresa. The blend is then allowed to marry within large french oak vats that once contained cognac. 1796 has won a host of awards. Gold ‘Exceptional’ Medal at the Chicago Beverage Testing Institute in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009. Gold Medal in the San Francisco World Spirits competition in 2009. Gold Medal in the IWSC 2006. Spirit of the year Malt Advocate Award in 2006 and it was voted Rum of the Year 2005 by Dave Broom.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: This is where your money goes. The rum is dark gold with mahogany flashes. It’s creamy and oaky on the nose but not too heavy. Buttery fudge and stewed fruits are wrapped in a vanilla spiked toffee sauce and topped with pecans and a buttery crumble. There is a slight creamy chocolate and a touch of cinnamon. This rum is clearly part of a family of rum as each expression has touches of its younger sibling within. It’s a pleasure to sit and nose this rum. It truly is like a stewed fruit crumble with a cinnamon sugared topping.

In the mouth: Initially the rum is sweet on entry with some oak dryness. Stewed fruit comes through with an almost date sugar and spiced sweetness. Toffee and nuts are here with an almost buttery mouth feel yet the rum still has a medium viscosity. It’s not chewy at all and you are not overcome with sweetness. There is a real balance here and coffee rounds out a medium length finish that dry’s out with a little vanilla.

If you were to mix it, definitely try a rum old fashioned. 50ml of 1796, 5ml of sugar syrup, a dash of bitters, slice of orange and a large cube of ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.


Rhum Orange Close UpSanta Teresa Rhum Orange

The base of this Rhum Orange is the same 2 year old rum that forms the basis of the Claro. This is then macerated with sweet Valencia oranges for between 1 and 4 months.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The rhum is gold with orange flashes and there is a little alcohol burn there alongside the intense orange.

In the mouth: The rum is thick and viscous with a really sweet entry. This dry’s out quickly. It’s just so easy to drink. It wont be for everyone, but I love it.

Try it in an orange daiquiri but I omit the sugar syrup due to sweetness. Be careful with the amount of lime used and I’ve found that a touch of sparkling water really helps to make the drink unbelievably refreshing.



Araku Close UpSanta Teresa Araku Coffee Liqueur

Again this uses the same 2 year old rum base as the Claro and Rhum Orange but this time the rum is infused with fresh ‘Caracas Blue’ 100% Arabica Coffee.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The rum is black with elements of gold around the edges. There are deep dark coffee and chocolate aromas.

In the mouth: The liquid is thick and viscous with a dominant sweetness. Again this dry’s out with instant dark chocolate and coffee. It’s like eating chocolate coated coffee beans such is the intensity. You’ll never go back to Kahlua!

I love this in a twist on a very boozy White Russian. I use 25ml Araku, 50ml Selecto, 25ml Mozart Dark Chocolate Liqueur and then top it up with milk. Lots of ice. Occasionally a drop of Black Walnut Bitters……..and relax.


Hopefully this little run through of the range will encourage you to seek out Santa Teresa Rums as each expression has something to offer. They are truly a family of rums from a family owned company and at least one expression should be a staple in your collection. My thanks to Mangrove for filling in the gaps in my Santa Teresa collection and for allowing me to experience some excellent Venezuelan rums. Go and seek them out, you will not be disappointed.

©Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.