Rum Auctioneer Inaugural Auction

The specialist Whisky Auctioneer event in May of this year saw some great bottles for sale…..I managed to write about a few of them here. They are now back with a dedicated Rum Auction site.

*Press Release*

World’s first online rum auction platform launches with a host of rum rarities!

RumAuctioneer.com is the first online auction platform dedicated to the buying and selling of rum.

Perth, Scotland – The launch of Rum Auctioneer will transform the secondary rum market, offering an exciting new avenue for rum collectors and drinkers to explore the spirit, gaining access to bottles that they might never find at retail. The monthly auctions will feature an unrivaled selection of rare, unusual and interesting rum of varying ages and styles, sourced from around the world.

The Inaugural Auction highlights will include a full cask of Port Mourant MPM 2010 Barrel #2 and an exceptionally rare and highly regarded bottle of Saint James, a true piece of rum heritage that was distilled in 1885.

A launch to celebrate the Inaugural Auction was held at the award winning King of Islington rum bar, Dundee, with a range of delicious rum cocktails served up by 2018 Global Monin Cup cocktail competition winner Dimi Savvaidis.

Launched by the team behind one of the world’s largest and most successful online whisky auctions, WhiskyAuctioneer.com, Rum Auctioneer will offer users an intuitive and user-friendly website that has been tried and tested over the past five years of selling whisky.

Whisky Auctioneer’s decision to launch the new site came in response to the increasing numbers of rum appearing in their regular auctions and a hugely successful stand alone rum auction in May 2019.

Iain McClune, Managing Director of Whisky Auctioneer and Rum Auctioneer, said: “The rum market is an exciting and dynamic place currently. Over the past 2 years we have seen the volume of rum consigned to our monthly whisky auctions increase by over 70% and the value of rum sold increase by over 80%.

A once underrated spirit, rum has now developed a devoted following who are searching out rarer and more unusual bottlings and premium offerings from our auctions. With our established reputation as specialist auctioneers and our in-depth knowledge of the drinks industry it was a natural move to launch a dedicated website to meet this demand. In fact, even before our first auction has gone live we have already seen over 1000 registrations on the new Rum Auctioneer website.”

Industry expert Ian Burrell will collaborate with Rum Auctioneer, appearing as a featured blog writer for the site and acting as a behind the scenes consultant.

Ian Burrell, Global Rum Ambassador and founder of UK Rumfest, said “It’s great to be involved with this new venture. A dedicated rum auction site is a welcome addition to the rum marketplace, giving fans the chance to explore and discover different producers, styles and ages and in the process hopefully growing their passion, knowledge and understanding of this amazing spirit.”

A previous stand out rum sold via Whisky Auctioneer is the incredible Wray & Nephew President’s Reserve. Only 12 of these bottles were produced in 1982 to celebrate the visit of President Reagan to Jamaica. Bottle number 4 was sold by Whisky Auctioneer in May 2019 achieving an auction record breaking hammer price of £31,500.

The Rum Auctioneer Inaugural Auction will go live on 30 August and will close on 9 September.

For more information on the auction or to register to participate please visit https://www.rumauctioneer.com/

*End*

I have to admit that I have already signed up for the site and have quite a few bottles on my ‘watch list’ along with having two bottles in the auction myself.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. 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.

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MHOBA Rum – Pure Single Sugarcane Rum – Part 2

Time for Part 2 in the series of MHOBA Rum reviews but the third part in the full MHOBA series of articles. You can pick up on Part 1 of the reviews here and also read a lot more into MHOBA and the inner workings of what they do here.

You can clearly see in those two articles how much effort goes into the production of the output MHOBA and how much care is taken to prepare the casks for the maturation of MHOBA Rum. This article will feature three of the four matured Rums in the line up. These are:

MHOBA Strand 101

MHOBA American Oak Aged

MHOBA French Oak Cask

*There is another release, the Glass Cask which will be included here once I have completed my notes*

Let’s get right into them.

MHOBA Strand’s 101 – 58% abv – Pure Single Sugarcane Rum

Now called Strand 101 for its LMDW release, it remains however inspired by its namesake…the “Crazy Dane” Knud Strand. Knud has a history of working with large brands from Bacardi to Cachaça Novo Fogo and this bottling, like quite a lot of MHOBA ideas was a happy accident. Following an extensive sample tasting process Knud found himself with samples of the first run of the High Ester and the super woody 2 year Glass Cask Aged. He mixed the two together to hopefully balance the in your face funk of the High Ester and super woody profile of the glass cask. During a few tasting and presentation sessions Knud found that the blend proved to be popular. The desire was to have the product as an homage to some of Knud’s favourite products. The 101 to reflect his enjoyment of Wild a Turkey 101….Knud expected a direct proof to abv halving as per the US system but true to Roberts heritage, Imperial Proof was what we got. The Blue and Gold of the label reflects Knud’s love of Smith & Cross. But what is the liquid like.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Bright vibrant cane. Very pungent. Acetone. Varnish. Earthy root vegetables. Menthol. Herbal and perfumed. A hint of oak influence excerpts itself with a whiff of smoke. A lot of fermented fruit and wild strawberries carry through on the nose. It remains astringent and pungent with crisp green apples. It’s almost the best of both worlds. Vibrant youth and more balanced age.

Mouth: Beautifully sweet and oily entry accompanied by a lot of heat. The bite of a youthful spirit rules the early exchanges with fresh sugarcane, fermenting tropical fruit and cider. A lot of funk. On the mid palate the aged component begins to envelop your tongue and becomes quite tannic, drying out your palate. This leaves a medium length finish that develops from tinned fruit with fresh cream through coffee, an oaken influence and then into a warming peppery finale. Good balance of youth and maturity.

Very very enjoyable Rum……and if you’ve met Knud, you’ll see how it reflects his character…..approachable, warm and a little bit crazy.

4 / 5

I attempted to pair it up with Smith & Cross in a Mai Tai but it destroyed the Jamaican in standard recipe proportions so it needed re-balancing. Once I’d done that, it made an unbelievable drink.

MHOBA American Oak Aged – 43% abv – Pure Single Sugarcane Rum

Initially left to mature in large glass demijohns with wood fire charred and cut American oak staves, this Rum is then transferred to Ex South African Whisky casks for a second maturation period. It is then reduced and bottled.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Charred wood. Smoke. Caramel. Vanilla. Burnt wooden splints. Light sweet grain notes. Bonfire embers and powdered sugar. Warm fudge. Black pepper and pencil shavings.

Mouth: Heavy, drying oak. Damp cardboard. Grilled smoked meat. Warm charred timber…memories of woodwork classes at school. Butterscotch. The mid palate brings a slowly growing coffee influence. Dark chocolate. The charred embers of a fire on the beach. The dry and medium length finish is all dominant oak, light vanilla and powdered cocoa with lingering charred, smoked wood that grows increasingly bitter.

Not at the top of my list as far as the aged Rums go, but I do have a small cask sample of just the ex South African Whisky barrel matured and its a bit special.

3 / 5

MHOBA French Oak Cask Rum – 65% abv – Pure Single Sugarcane Rum

The French Oak Cask release sees a real step up in bottle presentation. It is housed within a hand constructed laser engraved bamboo box and the front and rear bottle labels are laser engraved bamboo. As you’ll note, this bottle was personalised and given to me at the UK Rumfest in October. Receiving it was a very humbling experience. The Select Reserve Rums are some of the Rums adjudged to be the most exceptional. In this instance the selected distillates have been matured for a minimum 12 month French Oak casks that previously held Cape Red Wine. These casks are brought in by MHOBA and are refurbished.

Barrel Charring with Hardwood Coals

The first eight French Oak casks obtained by Robert we’re stripped, ground and reassembled before toasting and sealing. Toasting would be via either the use of coals of an LPG torch. Each cask was filled over a two day period. First half filling with a single distillate Rum, Robert then sampled the cask blend the day after and make a decision on where to go next. Second distillate Rums are then added along with water for dilution reducing the abv to somewhere between 65 and 70%. Only when happy with the contents are the barrels sealed. The French Oak Cask reviewed here is taken from an equal blend of the best six casks from the initial eight. I do have an LMDW order bottle that has seen an additional six months in the barrel so I will update when that is opened.

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose displays a lot of control for a 65% spirit. The oak is well integrated into the spirit but a perfumed and fragrant effect from the French oak is definitely present. A perfect balance of spiced notes from the barrel and classic, grassy sugarcane notes. Reminiscent of some truly wonderful aged agricoles. Bright acidic fruit, crisp apples. Growing tropical fruit….ripe mango. Guava jam. The oak is ever present but never overly dominant. Warming and spicy. Pencil shavings. Hints of red grapes and tart cranberries.

Mouth: Well balanced entry. Initially sweet, intensely so with a touch of powdered sugar and tropical fruit leathers. The freshness of the cane shines through. Intense moisture sapping dryness and huge amounts of grip on the mid palate from the French oak. There’s also a mineral quality. It remains soft though and never aggressive. Well balanced spice notes from the oak bounce off the vibrancy of the spirit to provide a fulfilling experience. The exceedingly long and intense finish sees sugarcane and tropical fruit mix with a huge oaken influence laden with spice, barrel charr and wet cardboard. Cranberry juice and succulent, crisp apples. A well balanced, fulfilling experience that will surprise a lot of people. Well crafted well executed rum.

Some producers have been working for years and have still not produced something as accomplished as this Rum.

4.5 / 5

I am fully aware that the Rums reviewed in this series will and may have moved on from these expressions. Different batches, harvests and more cask time are all components, welcome ones of being such a small producer and that fascinates me. It is also why I feel that MHOBA are so exciting as a producer, changing, developing and growing in both output and confidence all of the time. Robert has full autonomy over the distillates and therefore has the ability to experiment with fermentation methods, time, dunder, cane varieties and also with cask maturation enabling so many possibilities. Updates will be provided moving forwards.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. 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.

MHOBA Rum – Pure Single Sugarcane Rum – Part 1

I shared a rather large article a short while ago and it comprehensively told the story and explained some of the processes behind the creation of MHOBA Rum. You can find a link to it here. Right….if you went down that rabbit hole it’ll be a short while later and you’ll either be enthused to find out more about MHOBA Rum given how personal and hands on the creation of the Rum is…or complaining that you’ll never get that time back…..I’m hoping that it’s the former given the effort spent and time devoted by Robert to inform the article….but as a drinker I totally understand the latter. So I’ll assume that you’re enthused and keen to find out more. This review will be split into two and I will look to cover the Unaged and Flavoured releases in Part 1, and that encompasses 4 products.

They are:

MHOBA Pot Stilled White

MHOBA Select Pot Stilled White

MHOBA Pot Stilled High Ester

MHOBA Franky’s Pineapple

All of the distillates start off with the freshly pressed sugarcane juice extracted from the sugarcane varieties N57 or N36. This begins fermentation almost immediately as it is pressed due to the naturally present yeast. Following transfer of the juice to their 2000 litre fermentation vats, the fermentation processes split dependent upon the end product to be created…..High Ester long ferment or standard length ferment.

MHOBA Pot Stilled White – 43% abv – Pure Single Sugarcane Rum

This Rum utilises a 7 to 10 day fermentation period using standard bakers yeast. The fermentation is not temperature controlled. Distillation occurs on the handmade pot stills and the resultant distillate is chosen, reduced in abv using local pure crystalline water prior to bottling by hand.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Bright. Fresh. Vibrant notes of freshly cut cane. Plenty of plastic notes. Acetone. Furniture polish. Model Glue. Creamy with a hint of menthol.

Mouth: Initial sweet and creamy entry. Reminiscent of slightly sweet freshly whipped cream. Cane notes creep into the mid palate along with a herbal quality. The finish brings fresh cane, cream, light brine and plastic.

Its a functional and versatile offering. Makes a decent Daiquiri or Ti Punch.

3 / 5

MHOBA Select Pot Stilled White – 58% abv – Pure Single Sugarcane Rum

This Rum is the result of the 7 to 10 day fermentation period using bakers yeast and sugarcane variety N57, this blend is slightly different though. The new make spirit at MHOBA is collected in small separate fractions (cuts) and this blend is adjudged to comprise the best cuts taken over the period listed on the front label. In this case the batch number is 2018SR1 with a collection period of July to September 2018.

Tasting Notes

Nose: This builds upon the foundation of the Pot Stilled White with vibrant sugarcane at its core, and adds layers of complexity. It becomes increasingly vegetal. Earthy notes of turmeric and saffron. Quite a herbal quality too. Bright acetone notes sit atop well cooked root vegetables. Powdered sugar. The hint of fresh fruit.

Mouth: A sweet and bitter quality on first sip. Roasted root vegetables and light white pepper. The bitterness is reminiscent of bitter gourds such as Korola. A robust mouthfeel. Deep sugarcane flavours develop on the mid palate bringing menthol and a hint of apricot. The finish brings tinned apricots and fresh cream with classic Agricole notes of grassy cane.

This really does offer up plenty to enjoy as an unaged Rum. It is flavourful and offers a robust depth that matches a lot of established and well respected sugarcane juice Rums and Rhums. Probably my favourite in the unaged line up and just about as good as it gets insofar as the balance of aroma and flavour is concerned. Makes a great Fish House Punch.

4.5 / 5

MHOBA Pot Stilled High Ester White – 78% abv – Pure Single Sugarcane Rum

Note that later batches are at differing, lower abv levels but the release reviewed is Batch number 2018 HE1 using sugarcane variety N57 from the September 2018 harvest and is bottled at 78%. The initial small period of wild yeast fermentation that is present in all batches is then boosted in the fermentation tanks with the addition of dunder prior to the commercial yeast. It is presented in its straight from the still form.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Far more approachable than you’d expect for a product that has a 21 day fermentation period utilising dunder. This is the sum of everything that preceded it and so much more. Very grassy, cane driven nose initially. Unmistakably Agricole like with vegetal notes but completely recognisable as a heavy pot still product. It steps foot in Jamaican funk territory. Olives. Brine. Acetone. Fresh tropical fruit. Layers upon layers. Starfruit. Guava. Ripe mango. Boiled fruit sweets. Sweet cane and the perfumed aroma of small wild strawberries. Fermenting fruit. Furniture polish, solvent glue and black pepper.

Mouth: A full and encompassing, oily mouthfeel. This is a big rum. A lot of heat in the initial exchanges. This rum has more of an obvious earthy and savoury quality on the palate. Spiced pumpkin soup. Black pepper. Turmeric. Mustard oil. The mid palate brings a return of the fresh vibrant cane. All encompassing, the rum dominates your palate. Grilled tropical fruit. Fruit leathers. Strawberries and cream. Brine. Salty preserved lemons. Citrus oils. Eucalyptus. The finish has real length and is initially peppery, with black olive tapenade and the sweetness of liquorice root.

A real exercise in crazy. Its an absolute monster and can get away from you initially. Its an all encompassing sensory assault but once you are acclimatised it allows you to access a little more nuance. Its like a cross between the A1710 La Perle Brute and Savanna Lontan. High Ester with a lot of bright acidity and fruit plus that solid base of accessible pot still backbone that the A1710 possesses. I can’t drink too much of it in one sitting but it definitely warrants your attention.

4 / 5

MHOBA Franky’s Pineapple – 43% abv – Flavoured Rum

At its base is the Glass Cask Aged Rum along with a blend of two differing unaged Pot Still Rums. These are infused separately with ripe and fresh Natal Queen pineapples that have been seared….the infusions are then blended to produce Franky’s Pineapple. Pineapple seems to be the big thing as far as flavouring Rums go at the moment and there are a fair few available. Stiggin’s seemed to have started it but the door did not close. This should be an interesting prospect as I know of only one other sugarcane juice Rum flavoured / infused with Pineapple.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Full on pineapple sweetness up front. Initially freshly cut pineapple but there’s greater depth. An almost charred, bbq pineapple with caramelised syrup and a hint of smoke. Hints of grassy cane spike through the sweetness almost like a Rhum arrangé.

Mouth: Entry is not as sweet as the nose would suggest. The influence of young wood appears initially on the palate and this then develops into bbq pineapple. A light but sweet pineapple sponge cake. Warming mid palate with hints of charred fruit. Quite an earthy note is present. The relatively short finish brings more pineapple sponge cake with a drizzle of fresh cream. This is very much an infusion rather than a sweetened pineapple rum, and it is all the better for it.

I have used it in Pineapple Daiquiris and also in a Pina Colada and it does exactly what you want it to do.

3 / 5

If you’ve not tried anything from MHOBA as yet, you really should seek them out. Availability is growing and I now know of two outlets with Europe wide shipping and one that definitely ships to the USA. All very different, all have their own character and personality. If you were to buy only one it would for me be a toss up between the Green Label Select and the Red Label High Ester……it depends what kind of experience you are after. I like the occasional high ester offering but prefer steady drinkers and for that reason the Select is my go to.

So, that’s Part 1 over. Next up will be the Aged products. Glass Cask, American Oak, Strand’s 101 and the majestic French Oak.

For availability click the link to Richard Blesgraaf’s online store in the right hand panel or visit LMDW.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. 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.

MHOBA Rum – A South African Farm to Bottle Story

MHOBA translates as ‘Sugarcane’ from siSwati which is the language spoken by the local Swazi people.

Seemingly appearing from nowhere, MHOBA Rum have started to make themselves known in the Rum world. I first encountered them at the UK RumFest in London in October 2017 where they had three or four expressions of their Pure Single Sugarcane Rum that were creating a bit of a stir. I got chatting to owner, Robert Greaves about the brand and their expressions. I purchased two bottles in 2017 and stayed in touch with Robert. Fast forward to the UK RumFest in October 2018 and MHOBA are again present at both the Boutique Rumfest and the main weekend event. This time they have brought with them eight individual expressions and have taken the Boutique Rumfest by storm with a huge buzz surrounding them. This continued over the course of the whole weekend with MHOBA becoming a bit of a talking point among the attendees post RumFest. I knew that I needed to get some information written about them to hopefully get the limelight directed to a team that I thought were humble, engaging and willing to chat. The intention was to get a few questions out to Robert to build an interview……to find out his background, his motivation and his processes. It rather quickly became apparent that a simple question and answer interview would be underplaying the wealth of information that Robert has discussed with me during our conversations and I hope to recount the timeline from the beginning to that landmark 2017 Rumfest visit up to the recent delivery of a large order to LMDW in France which is a significant moment bringing the Rums of MHOBA to a global audience. So please stick with me if you will, as I attempt to tell you an in-depth and quite personal story of a proudly South African ‘Farm to Bottle’ Producer.

MHOBA Rum – A South African Farm to Bottle Story

Robert Redvers Greaves was born to an Artist Mother and a Mining Engineer Father in Johannesburg, South Africa in January 1978. The families of both his Mother and Father have been in South Africa for 3 or 4 generations. His Fathers lineage is entirely British as far back as the family have been able to trace, whereas his Mother is descended from Scottish and Dutch origins. Schooled and raised in Johannesburg, Robert then studied Mechanical Engineering at Stellenbosch and WITS Universities. Post studies, he began working as an Engineer in the Mining industry in underground construction contracting until his Father offered him the opportunity to take over his small Mining business. The business, built up since 1985 comprised two small-scale and marginal Mining operations in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Robert made the decision to relocate from Johannesburg to the larger of the two mines near Malalane to manage the mine himself and to save any costs associated with having to employ a Manager for the operation. As a result of the drastic deterioration of the Mining industry in the whole of South Africa over the course of the last 20 years, business income needed to be supplemented. To do this during the period of decline, they started growing sugarcane on their property to sell to the local Sugar Mill.

Robert and his family live on the Eastern side of South Africa near the border with Mozambique. Their property is just south of the Kruger National Park nature reserve in the Nkomazi area of Mpumalanga, not far from the small town of Malalane. By far the largest business in the surrounding area, and the raison d’être for the existence of town of Malalane is the recently renamed RCL Foods (previously TSB) Sugar Mill. The surrounding farms that provide the Sugar Mill with sugarcane alongside the supply of all other goods and services that the Mill requires provides a livelihood and to a certain extent, a way of life for the majority of the areas residents. Relocating from the ‘New York of Africa’……Johannesburg, to the rural farm life in Malalane had a profound and significant effect on Robert. Having an involvement with and being surrounded by the sugarcane farming culture influenced his lifestyle and his way of thinking. For most of its existence the mining business started by his Father had been marginal as far as profitability goes and with the steady and apparent decline of South Africa’s economy and the mining industry being plagued by problems, other opportunities needed to be identified to both supplement and possibly provide an alternative direction the keep the business running and the property maintained.

Growing sugarcane and being embedded in a cane growing region, sugarcane and sugarcane products provided a focal point for Robert to develop an opportunity involving their produce. Given the low value of unprocessed cane locally and his farm being relatively small in terms of yield when viewed alongside other larger properties in the area, producing sugar that could compete with the large expanse of the RCL Foods Sugar Mill was out of the question. Robert considered the production of alcohol from their cane. Without the knowledge that he now possesses, Robert initially thought that Rum was only made from molasses. Following a period of online research, he realised that Cachaca was a spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice. Socio-economic parallels are often drawn between South Africa and Brazil and the idea of making what he initially viewed as ‘South African Cachaca’ quickly gained traction as he had the sugarcane, and the similarities of their local cane growing cultures meant that locals could take to a sugarcane spirit as the Brazilian people had done. Robert had the vision of making a ‘Single Malt Whisky style spirit’ insofar as that he wanted it to be the product of batch / pot distillation and did not want to sully the distillate with colour or flavourings other than the oak. As he had not yet discovered Rhum Agricole, it would be a ‘Brazilian Style Rum’.

The eureka moment, the realisation of a future in Rum making came in 2013. Robert and his wife attended a wedding at the hotel Belle Mare Plage in Mauritius, and a man named Guillaume Graffeille was the person that helped him arrive at this pivotal decision.

Robert recalls sitting at the hotel bar and being mesmerized by the quantity and variety of available Rums on the back-bar and it far exceeded anything that he had previously laid eyes on. Fortunately it seems, the barman had disappeared for a short while and as he perused the weird and wonderful bottles on display, Robert was assisted by a bald chap who was buried in paperwork and appeared to be a Senior hotel staff member. His name was Guillaume. Rather reluctantly, but whilst retaining every ounce of his professionalism, he broke away from his administrative tasks to assist Robert in his requests to view some of the numerous bottles on the shelves and also provided answers to the numerous elementary questions being asked. Robert specifically recalls that at one distinct point the man asked, “Where do you come from?” and when the question was answered with “South Africa”, his retort was, “Yes, you guys know nothing about rum. You only know grapes, wines and brandy”. As discussions progressed, it was reveled that the hotel had a selection of 120 Rums and that they enjoyed being able to take guests on a “Rum taste tour” with Rums sourced from across the globe. “Wherever there is sugarcane, there is Rum” advised Guillaume. It was at this moment that the penny dropped for Robert. Just about everywhere that sugarcane is grown, some form of Rum is produced, and in the area that he lived it was actually one of the exceptions to the rule. If Rum worked in so many other diverse cane growing locations, why not where he lived? Surely all that he needed to do was make good quality Rum? Its at that point that Robert seemingly went headlong down the path to becoming a bit of a Rum maniac.

Early Efforts

Upon returning from Mauritius, Robert immediately started juicing his sugarcane by hand in a vice on a workbench making small 10 litre fermentation batches that could take several hours. These were left to ferment in buckets. He also hand built his first rudimentary stainless steel gas fired still during that first fermentation from what was once a milk urn. Numerous batches of ungodly and revolting distillates were produced, all enthusiastically tested by him and anyone else that was unfortunate enough to be near and willing enough to try……there were not many repeat volunteers. With a lot of persistence, a willingness to try many variations on his fermentation’s and several revisions of small handmade stills, Robert managed to produce what he (at that stage) and the majority of willing volunteers believed was a really good, “smooth” spirit by triple distilling to 95% abv. He continued to experiment and perfect the pure spirit that he wanted to produce at that stage and as feedback became more and more positive he decided to apply to obtain a license to allow the production and sale of his own Rum commercially.

Following months of objections from neighbours, several consultants and countless lawyers bills, Robert eventually received his “Micro Manufacturers Liquor License” and excise account from the relevant South African tax authorities in June 2015, opening the gate and allowing him to produce and sell MHOBA Rum. Very much a ‘hands on’ and practical chap, he built their first roller cane press and a 200 litre stripping still which allowed them to do quite well in terms of selling their “White” and “Glass Cask” aged Rum in the local market. This is even more impressive given that this relative success of their first two Rums occurred in a country that has considerably lower levels of Rum knowledge and appreciation. Positive feedback was raining in from “those in the know” within the industry and that is the point when Robert met Andy Kiloh, also known as the RumBro. Andy was able to carry samples of the MHOBA output to The Miami Rum Festival in 2016 and he returned with encouraging feedback and opinions from those introduced to the Rum. A key driver to the 2017 Rumfest appearance was a visit by Robert to the Mauritius Rum Festival in 2017 as this is where he met Ian Burrell. Appearing to be quite taken with MHOBA Rum, Ian invited Robert to the UK Rumfest a little later that year. Ian’s enthusiasm for MHOBA was a huge confidence boost for Robert as it was the first time that he understood that there would be a potential market far beyond local sales. UK Rumfest 2017 proved to be a steep learning curve as it presented the ability to taste Rums that were previously unheard of to him and more importantly he had the opportunity to meet the producers whilst simultaneously receiving very positive feedback from some well respected names. He specifically received some constructive advice and feedback from Richard Seale at the 2017 UK Rumfest and that advice has been key to allowing Robert to raise his game quite substantially. Having some of the most knowledgeable people in the Rum world compliment his Rum was a big deal to Robert and this alongside the constructive feedback provided the energy required to elevate MHOBA to bigger and better things.

Amazing how economic situations can give rise to new opportunities to motivated and hard working individuals and the story is testament to the fact that chance meetings and words of encouragement can change the trajectory of a persons path by allowing them to focus on new goals that may have been in front of their eyes the whole time.

Processes

The “Farm to Bottle” aspect of MHOBA is no empty moniker. As a team and a producer, they do things themselves. From owning the land where their cane is farmed, manufacturing their sugarcane press, their fermentation vats, their stills, their labels etc, Robert has created an environment whereby they may be reliant upon materials, but they know how to repair equipment and he knows the distillation equipment intimately….after all, he built it. The following information will cover the sugarcane from fields to harvest, sugarcane pressing, fermentation, distillation, maturation and bottling and thanks to Robert, it will be littered with some pretty unique images.

Cane Fields and Harvest

This is a crucial stage in MHOBA‘s rum making and a major part of what differentiates them from a molasses producer or even a cane juice producer buying juice from someone else. The varietals that do well in their area were developed by the South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI) which makes them unique internationally, and when combined with the local climate, soil type, magnesium rich water and local microbials gives MHOBA rums a most definite, distinctive and unique terroir.

Very few people (even in the international rum geek fraternity) really understand how much work goes in to being a true “Farm to Bottle” producer. They plant their own cane, grow their own cane, cut and de-trash their own cane by hand and then shred and juice the cane using manually operated, hand fed machinery. There is a massive amount of work, all done by the MHOBA team, that goes in to producing each and every litre of their pure sugarcane juice wash. Once a tank of freshly squeezed juice is fermenting, the rest of the rum making process is then relatively easy in comparison to getting that juice ready for the yeast.

Another thing worthy of note is that MHOBA have begun the process of becoming accredited as the first fully organic sugarcane producer in South Africa.

Sugarcane Pressing

Robert has built two types of cane presses in the last 6 years. The first was a more conventional roll type press which had two counter rotating large steel wheels which squeeze the cane sticks between them. This old press is no longer in use, though is pictured below:

Original Redundant Cane Press

Press Feed Conveyor

Cane Press Location

They utilised the rotating roller press for about two years before Robert designed and then built the current press, which is totally unique. He have never heard of anyone else using a press of this type. The press works on a batch principle which makes it slower in terms of cane throughput, but it is significantly more effective in extracting the juice from the cane. It is basically a large, thick walled steel pipe which is filled with pre-shredded sugarcane. This shredded cane is then pressed with a hydraulic plunger which presses the shredded cane with a force equivalent to a weight of about 60 tonnes.

Removing Spent Bagasse

The process of juicing sugarcane at MHOBA is as follows:

  • After cutting and de-trashing (removal of the cane stick tops and leaves which contain no juice) cane by hand it is placed in heaps in the fields which are again loaded by hand on to a small tractor-trailer which delivers the freshly cut cane to the cane press
  • The cane sticks are hand fed into a hammer mill which shreds the cane into a more compressible coarse pulp. This pulp fills a stainless steel hopper or bin which is the correct volume to fill the press
  • Once the feed bin is full the hammer mill is stopped and the hopper contents are fed by conveyor belt in to the barrel of the press
  • The full press barrel is then moved sideways into the press position underneath the hydraulic ram and the ram moves downwards by means of a hydraulic cylinder and compresses the shredded cane at the bottom of the barrel
  • The pressure on the cane is maintained for several minutes until no further juice is seen exiting the bottom of the barrel
  • Once the press is completed, the ram is retracted and the cylinder is then moved sideways to the bagasse ejecting position and a smaller hydraulic cylinder and ram are used to push the plug of compressed bagasse out of the bottom of the cylinder on to a conveyor belt which places the spent bagasse on a stockpile
  • A portion of the spent bagasse is mixed with cattle and chicken manure to form an organic fertiliser which is returned to the cane fields and the remainder of the bagasse is burnt to generate heat for the stills
  • The cane press produces between 1 and 4 000 litres of pure cane juice per day

Pure Nkomazi Sugarcane Juice

Cane Juice Collection Tank

Fermentation

MHOBA grow 6 or 7 Sugarcane Varietals on their farm which are supplied to the local sugar mill. There are two dedicated varieties grown in their fields which are dedicated to the production of MHOBA Rum. These are N57 and N36. Both are South African developed varieties, developed by SASRI (South African Sugarcane Research Institute). It is these two varieties that as mentioned above, MHOBA are in the process of acquiring organic certification for.

2000 litre Fermentation Batch (7-10 Day)

Because MHOBA shred their cane prior to pressing as mentioned above, quite a bit of the naturally occurring yeast is washed off the outer portions of the cane when it gets squeezed and ends up in the juice. Their press is also quite slow to operate so it takes several hours to press a full batch of juice and during its time in the tank the juice begins to ferment naturally. Once a full 1000 litre batch has been pressed it is usually fermenting moderately using only the natural yeasts. They then transfer the 1000 litre fermentation batch to the fermentation tanks and add a commercial yeast which is standard baking yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Yeast pitching and variety are uniform for all of the currently released Rums thus far, including the High Ester long ferments. Robert has experimented with some 100% wild ferments but they have not yet made it to sale.

Dunder / Long Fermentation Batch (21 Day)

MHOBA do not use temperature control during fermentation as due to the small size of their batches, the critical mass has not yet been achieved in terms of the yeast activity raising the temperature of the ferments to a detrimental level. They have recently begun using 2000 litre fermentation’s in anticipation of their new 1000 litre pot stills which will be fired up over the next few weeks. These larger batches are getting significantly warmer than the 1000 litre batches. If the decision is made to step up from 2000 litre batches, cooling may well be required. All normal ferments last for between 7 to 10 days.

Dunder / Long Fermentation Batch

High Ester ferments are for a period of 21 days. The dunder in these High Ester batches is added when the cane juice is transferred to the fermentation tanks so the initial few hours of natural / wild fermentation is the same for all batches but once in the tanks, dunder is added before the commercial yeast.

Dunder / Long Fermentation Batch at the Halfway Point

Distillation

Robert has built several pot stills since starting to make rum, and he has never actually distilled anything in a still that he didn’t make himself. The lighter distillates created by Robert didn’t hold up too well to cask maturation initially and following his discovery of ‘Single Blended Rum’, but not having the required still types, Robert decided to blend heavy single pot distillates with lighter twin distilled high ABV Rums to mimic a single blended distillery output.

The Three Pot Stills

The pot stills in use at MHOBA have all been made from copper and stainless steel. Copper contact with the vapours and distillate during distillation is very important as it helps with removing sulphur containing compounds from the new make spirit. The pots, which hold and heat the fermented sugarcane batches are made from 316 stainless steel as this section of the still needs to be structurally strong to support the weight of the still and the batch of fermented sugarcane juice.

The Three Pot Stills

The pot portion of the still contains no copper as its influence submerged in the wash has almost non existent effect on the taste of the distillates that the still produces. The structural parts of the tall narrow upright necks of the stills are again fabricated from 316 stainless steel for it’s strength, ease of fabrication and resistance to corrosion.

Pot Still Temperature Display

Condenser Piping Arrangement

Within the outer stainless steel shell of the still necks is a lot of copper. The entire vapour path inside the still necks is packed with copper wool plates and pipes which they make themselves. There is significantly more copper contact in the vapour path in their stills than in a traditional copper alembic type still or even in a more modern copper bubble cap type pot still.

Condenser Assembly

Condenser Return Manifolds

Robert is a firm believer in “form follows function” and stainless steel is the natural choice for the structural components of a still as it is strong, chemically neutral in the process and is easy to cut, shape and join using conventional fabrication techniques. Copper required for its chemical influence on the distillate and it’s excellent heat transfer properties is machined to maximise its surface area and placed in the vapour path of the still where it is exposed to the rum distillate in vapour and liquid states.

Drilling Copper Spacer Plates

Drilled Copper Spacer Plates

As mentioned above and clarified with the images of the components being fabricated and assembled, there is more copper in contact with the MHOBA rum during distillation than most conventional copper stills but the copper in their stills is not visible once they are assembled.

Maturation

The Team

The maturation of MHOBA Rum occurs in a steel and galvanised sheet metal warehouse which allows the benefits of the hot humid South African climate to act upon the casks and the rum they contain. There is much talk internationally of tropical vs continental ageing in rum, MHOBA have something similar to Caribbean tropical ageing with heat and humidity except that their temperature variations are more extreme both daily and seasonally as they are not on a small island where temperatures are moderated by the surrounding ocean.

Barrel Warehouse

Robert expects to be able to accommodate around 1000 casks in their current warehouse and they will hopefully need to start building a second warehouse in the not too distant future. 

Barrel Racks

Although MHOBA are still extremely small and have only accumulated around 100 casks of which 20 are ex-American whisky casks with the remainder being European oak casks which are all ex-Cape red wine casks. Their casks are of various sizes between 200 litre Barrels and 500 litre Puncheons all of which are previously used casks and many of those are completely dismantled and refurbished by the team before being filled the rum. Their oldest cask aged rums are currently almost 2 years old. 

American Oak Ex South Africa Whisky Casks

As mentioned above, they have mostly French and American oak casks……and now one Hungarian oak barrel.

Refurbished Hungarian Oak Cask Containing MHOBA Rum

Some of the casks are left in the state they were from their previous use as they are used for secondary maturation (finishing) and other are completely dismantled and refurbished and re-toasted to get much more oak influence into the rum. When charring with hardwood coals, the cask is rotated about a foot at a time and then left for around 5 minutes before rolling another foot or so. Each cask is usually subject to 3 or 4 full rotations until desired char levels are achieved on the staves. The cask is then stood upright so that the coals char the inside of the cask head. The head that has been removed is toasted separately by using hot coals.

Barrel Charring with Hardwood Coals

Barrel Medium Toast with LPG Torch

Bottling

The bottling of MHOBA rum is very basic and entirely manual as is the rest of their rum-making process.

Hand Filled Bottling

Rums which are blended and or diluted to a specific ABV are blended in stainless steel vessels and the blend and ABV are adjusted to suit. The ABV is roughly checked using density based measurements via a Hydrometer or Digital Portable Density Meter until the blend is correct and the rum is then left to rest to allow as much sediment to precipitate and settle as possible.

Rums which are blended and / or bottled at a specific ABV are first blended in stainless steel and roughly proofed using a hydrometer

ABV Estimation Using a Density Measuring Device

The batch of rum is then filtered at ambient temperature using a stainless steel plate filter which removes the majority of solids in the batch from ageing and / or dilution and blending. The rum batch ABV is then finally adjusted and checked to be within the allowable tolerance of the stated ABV using a highly accurate alcolyzer system. The batch is then re-filtered using cotton wool plugs or filter paper and then stored in sealed glass demijohns before being poured in to the final bottles which have already been labelled.

Rum Filtering

The MHOBA cask strength rums and single batch white rums are not diluted or adjusted in any way and are bottled at the ABV at which they were maturing in cask or at the ABV at which they were distilled in the case of the Pot Stilled High Ester Rum. These rums are only filtered through a cotton wool plug before being bottled.

ABV is Finally Measured Using an Alcolyzer

Robert is unbelievably proud of the fact that so much of the final product that is produced is made by the team at the distillery. He personally designed nearly all of the labels and they print and engrave all of the labels at the distillery before applying them to the bottles.

Printing of Foil Labels is Done at the Distillery

The Premium aged rums are labelled with thin laminated bamboo which is laser engraved and cut by two laser engraving machines which run at the distillery.

Laser Engraving and Cutting of Bamboo Labels is done at the Distillery

These same rums are then packaged in individual boxes which are also cut and engraved by hand before assembling the pieces to form the final boxes.

Pure Sugarcane Happiness

MHOBA are currently producing 10 expressions. The original two of these rums are only for sale in South Africa and the remaining 8 are predominantly aimed at the export market but are also bottled in 750 ml and are available in South Africa.

Robert with the 8 expressions for export

Their rums vary greatly from light easy drinking, versatile multiple distillate, lower ABV rum right through to heavy, robust High Ester, dunder fermented rum which is bottled at distillation strengths of 60 to 70% ABV.

Export order for LMDW

Their aged rums vary considerably too with some aged only using American oak and another only in French oak casks.

Select Reserve Rums Before Being Sealed and Placed in Individual Bamboo Boxes

They are also now maturing rums which are not yet available in various other casks including Hungarian oak, once used “fresh” Bourbon casks and ex South African whisky and wine casks. The Whisky casks have been a mixture of ex-South African Grain Whisky and Malt Whisky casks, with the Malt Whisky casks having a peaty aroma. Something that I think will work very well with their distillates.

Hopefully this has been an informative read for you and my thanks goes to Robert for the time that he has spent recounting the details to me and the level of information which he has shared. There is a companion piece that will follow this article and within that I will cover each of the available MHOBA Rums that are available from LMDW.

*All images provided by Robert for use within this article have either been taken by Robert or by Sven at Phonix Capture

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. 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.

LONDON RUM WEEK LAUNCHES THIS OCTOBER

*Press Release*

LONDON RUM WEEK LAUNCHES THIS OCTOBER

From the makers of RumFest, London Rum Week is a week-long celebration of rum across bars all over the capital, ahead of RumFest 2018

London Rum Week
15th – 21st October

RumFest
Saturday 20th & 21st October 2018
London’s Earl’s Court
ILEC Conference Centre
rumfest.co.uk

RumFest tickets start from £44.55 and can be purchased here

Bigger and better than ever before, RumFest is launching London Rum Week to prolong the celebrations of one of the nations favourite tipples. With an abundance of events taking place from rum launches and Tiki Thursday to rum masterclasses, rum-lovers from across the capital will have endless opportunities to get involved.

RumFest, the world’s premier festival of rum, will also return to London this autumn to host an abundance of tastings, masterclasses and delicious food all under one roof. Taking place 20th-21st October, over 400 world-class rum brands, mixologists, master blenders and specialists will jet in from around the world, to celebrate their passion for all things rum, taking visitors on a rum pilgrimage to explore the exquisite and unique. For more information on Rum Week and RumFest, visit the website.

RumFest is the lead event in the newly launched London Rum Week this October. Kicking off on Monday 15th, rum-focused activities will take place across the capital for the first five days, including the launch of Hampden Rum from one of Jamaica’s oldest distilleries at Usain Bolt’s new London bar Tracks & Records, a Q&A with Bailey Pryor, the five-time Emmy Award-Winning Director and Producer, a showcase of rare rums & cigars at La Casa del Habano with award-winning rum maker Richard Seale and much more.

Also part of London Rum week is The 6th Golden Rum Barrel Awards & Dinner, to be held at The Holiday Inn Kensington Forum, on Sunday 21st October. This star-studded night will see awards given to best in the rum industry including the Best Rums of 2018, Best Rum Master, Best Rum Bar, Best Rum Brand Ambassador and Rum Influencer of the Year .

Running as the highlight event, RumFest – the worlds finest festival of rum, opens its doors on the Saturday 20th – Sunday 21st October. With over 400 rum brands united together under one roof, guests will be able to enjoy exclusive tastings and pairings, take part in a variety of masterclasses and learn the art of perfecting a rum cocktail from leading mixologists.

New for this year, Ian Burrell, renowned Global Rum Ambassador and RumFest Founder, will be leading a one-off tasting on the Saturday and Sunday, showcasing five rare and expensive rums with a combined retail value of £1500. Tickets for all masterclasses (except those stated) are included within the entry ticket, however, places are limited and must to be booked in advance.

Sponsoring the main stage this year is London’s newest tropical escape bar Laki Kane. Co-founded by award-winning mixologist Georgi Radev, the bar produces innovative cocktails and is the first bar in the world to make all syrups in-house without using refined sugars. Using the finest rums, sugar cane syrups and a hand-picked selection of rare and exotic ingredients, Laki Kane will be showcasing their mixology expertise.

Speaking about this year’s events, founder and Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell;
“RumFest is a fantastic chance to get the inside track on the next big thing in rum as well as try some hidden gems on the market. Last year proved once again that this is THE event for anyone in the business of rum, with the worlds best brands, master blenders, distilleries and aficionados from across the globe. 2018 promises to raise the bar again with a few more surprises!”

A variety of additional masterclass sessions will take place across the course of the weekend. All sessions will involve tutored rum and cocktail tasting by spirit experts.
Saturday Masterclasses:
– Angostura
– La Hechicera
– Velier Masterclasses with Luca Gargano
– Canadian Rums
– Appleton Rum
– Flor de Caña

Sunday Masterclasses:
– Real McCoy
– Foursquare class with Richard Seale
– Appleton Rum
– Velier Masterclasses

For rum connoisseurs, the RumFest Golden Tot Tokens will give you the opportunity to taste limited edition and premium rums, retailing from £80-250.

In addition, Saturday guests will be able to place their bids at the Rum Auction, with premium rums priced from £500 – £2000. There will also be a host of chef demos throughout the weekend from Shivi Ramoutar, The Modern Caribbean Chef & Hassan de Four.

RumFest tickets are now on sale from £44.55 per day, which includes tastings of over 400 rums, complimentary invites to all masterclasses and seminars (except those stated) and rum experience tasting glass. For full information on RumFest and to buy tickets, head to rumfest.co.uk.

A full itinerary for London Rum Week can be found on http://www.londonrumweek.com. Activities across the week include Hampden Rum launch at Usain Bolt’s new London bar, a showcase of rare rums and cigars at La Casa del Habano plus much more to be announced. For more information regarding London Rum Week or to get involved contact info@rumfest.co.uk.

*End*

Rum Week is back with a vengeance! Some amazing events going on. It’s a shame that we’re up in Manchester at times like this but that theres still plenty to look forward to! We hope that we see a few of you over the course of the weekend.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. 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

SELL OUT SUCCESS FOR RUMFEST 10

THOUSANDS OF RUM LOVERS JOIN THE UK’S LEADING RUM FESTIVAL FOR TASTINGS, MASTERCLASSES & 10TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS

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

rumfest.co.uk

rumfest-2016-photo

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!”

*End*

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.

RumFest Announces 10th Anniversary Event

*Press Release*RumFest 2016

RUMFEST CELEBRATES NATIONAL RUM DAY & ANNOUNCES 10TH ANNIVERSARY EVENT

TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR THE UK’S LARGEST CELEBRATION OF RUM CULTURE

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

rumfest.co.uk

RumFest Carnival Hour 2015

With the arrival of National Rum Day today, RumFest announces its return to the capital for the nation’s biggest celebration of rum and rum culture. Pulling out all the stops for an impressive 10th anniversary year, the event will host a myriad of rum-related offerings with the spirit’s leading brands and aficionados all jam-packed into two days at London’s ILEC, 22nd-23rd October. Over 400 rums will be available for ticket-holders to sip, savour, try and buy to take home with RumFest’s Golden Tot tokens making a welcome return to give the more discerning drinker access to ultra-premium and rare rums, that would otherwise cost over £200 a bottle. The comprehensive programme will see rum tastings, in-depth seminars, The Rum Auction sponsored by Christie’s, incredible food and a party atmosphere to match, not to mention a new Sunday rum roast and special guests Levi Roots and Beach Bum Berry joining in on the celebrations. Tickets are now on sale from £39.50, including a VIP package priced from £69.50 which includes fast track entry, goodie bag and a three course Caribbean lunch. More information on tickets and the event can be found on the website via rumfest.co.uk.

Launched by Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell, RumFest has become the main event of the rum calendar and the event’s 10th outing is set to be its strongest yet as it invites the nation to delve into the world of rum.

Over 400 rums from around the world will be on offer, with a myriad of exhibitors including Diplomatico, Havana Club, Don Q, Bacardi, Mount Gay, Pussers, St. Nicholas Abbey, Richland Rum and many more.

Seminars and workshops take place across the two days where brands, ambassadors and leading industry figures give an in-depth insight into the world of rum including rum and food pairings and the making of rums. Top blenders, mixologists and distillers will be on hand to teach ticket-holders the art of cocktail making as well as more ways to enjoy their favourite tipple. Highlights include a rare rum seminar with Ian Burrell himself, an Aroma Academy, a sit down with award-winning master distiller Richard Seale, chocolate and rum pairing plus an exciting look into the world of rum with author Dave Broom. Head to the RumFest website to book seminars in advance from September.

This year RumFest are going big on Sunday. Reggae Reggae Sauce’s Levi Roots will be taking over the main stage and sharing some of his incredible cooking secrets and bringing his newly open Caribbean Smokehouse restaurant to RumFest. Sunday’s RumFest will also team up with Sandals Resorts to offer the chance for two lucky ticket-holders to win an incredible seven-day holiday to a Sandals Resort in the Caribbean to get even closer to rum’s roots. Rum & Roast will be introduced for Sunday ticket-holders, cooking up a Caribbean twist on the Sunday classic and VIPs will be treated to a roast option for their three course meal.

The Rum Auction sponsored by Christie’s returns to auction off yet more precious and rare rums for charity to the highest bidder while the action heats up with live stage demos showcasing rum pairings, cigar & rum pairing, cooking demos, cocktail competitions. On Saturday’s RumFest “the Indiana Jones of Tiki drinksBeach Bum Berry will delve into the art of Tiki cocktail making. Rounding off each day, rum-lovers will be invited to party with RumFest for its famous carnival hour, celebrating the spirit of rum with live bands and dancers.

RumFest Founder and Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell is the leading name in rum. Dedicating his life to promoting rum and rum culture around the world, over the years Burrell has been recognised with a number of industry awards as well as regularly appearing as a rum expert at events and on television shows like Sunday Brunch, the Alan Titchmarsh Show and more.

Speaking about the 10th year, Ian Burrell says, “When we launched 10 years ago we could never have imagined how successful RumFest would become. For us rum has always been a way of life and we’re thrilled to still be spreading the word and celebrating the spirit a decade on. We’ve got something for everyone this year with even more rums, tastings and talks as we hope to make RumFest 2016 one to remember for rum-lovers up and down the country.”

RumFest takes place in London at the ILEC, 22nd to 23rd October 2016. Standard day tickets are now on sale from £39.50, which includes access to all areas of the event and tastings from all exhibitors. VIP tickets are on sale from £69.50 and allow for early access of one hour ahead of standard ticket buyers along with a three course Caribbean lunch. Golden Tot Tokens are £5 each and allow for additional access to the more premium rums on offer. One token can be exchanged for rum retailing £80 – £100 and more expensive rums will be available for additional tokens. For full information on RumFest and to buy tickets head to rumfest.co.uk.

*End*

We’ll be there again and (not wanting to wish the next few months away) can’t wait, with highlights being the chance to see Jeff Berry in action! Again it looks like there is a whole host of fun planned! Roll on October.

© 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.

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