Given the huge amount of Rum based events going on in the lead up to this years UK RumFest, there is a high likelihood that if this performance is repeated next year we may have to take a short-term rental in South West London! We thought that by making the trip on Thursday morning clutching our Rum University and RumFest tickets that we would be experiencing a lot……but in truth we didn’t even scratch the surface. What we shall attempt to do though is talk you through some of the more standout points of our 2015 RumFest experience!
Friday morning saw us grab a cup of tea take a seat on the comfy sofas in the lobby of the Ibis Hotel. We were soon joined by John Coelho-Charles, Helena Tiare Olsen, Keegan Menezes, Robert Burr and Paul Yellin. Much chatting ensued with topics as varied as Santeria Rum, the weather and the strange fruit on offer at the street market outside of our hotel……As we sat waiting, Ian walked into the lobby, made a b-line for the sofas and greeted us all. Good start. A short while later due to London traffic (among other things) we clocked Tito Cordero enter the building which meant that Rum University could start. We were all ushered into one of the seminar rooms off the main hall with a few of us taking a cheeky glimpse of the exhibition space being set up for the weekends fun.
The Diplomatico Rum seminar kicked things off with a really open insight into the sheer range of distillates that can be produced at DUSA. Now irrespective of your opinion on the Rums produced and sold under the Diplomatico brand, they have a pretty special collection of stills at DUSA….and we got to hear about all of them.
Next up was a pretty special olfactory seminar presented by Kim Lahiri of Aroma Academy. It was all about reconstructing the aroma profiles not deconstructing them which is done via Aroma Recognition and Aroma Vocabulary. Very interesting and enlightening stuff. After a quick break for lunch which consisted of the amazing Fish n Chips from the on site pub….(just ask Helena for a review) we were into the afternoon session.
The afternoons learning opportunity was provided by Richard Seale of Foursquare Distillery who led with his own rather brutal assessment of the current state of the industry and a real insight into alcohol plants vs spirit production. He also brought proposals for the future classification of the Rum category. A proposal in conjunction with Luca Gargano that would see Rum categorised as follows:
- 100% Pot Still (Pure Single Rum)
- Pot / Column (Single Blended)
- Column (Coffey Still)
The seminar ended with a little food for thought….’Not all Rums with added sugar are bad…..but all of the bad ones will have added sugar’. A very interesting day spent and a learning opportunity that we will be looking to undertake again next year! We were then released into the quite amazing Boutique RumFest……
This year saw some absolutely amazing Rums on display and the experience is probably best dealt with via a series of images….
Coming from Denmark and with Daniel Nunez Bascunan at the helm, the range of Rums available was great with our particular favourites being the Light & Dry (Barbados and Trinidad) and Pungent & Geeky (Jamaica and Barbados). We really hope that these get a UK release as we are mad keen to try them again.
Bristol Classic Rum
We were so so pleased to see the guys from Bristol Classic there. We are big fans of their output and the releases on display didn’t disappoint. Of the bottles on display, we already own the Worthy Park 8, Diamond Distillery 2003 and Foursquare 2004. Standouts were the simply sublime Port Morant 25yr, Haiti 2004 and Mauritius 5yr.We hope tobe able to pick up a few more Bristol bottlings over the coming year.
Hamilton Ministry of Rum Collection
This collection was quite simply stunning. The St Lucian 9 yr 100% Pot Still at 66.7% abv (which we fortunately ended up leaving with the remains of) is an absolute triumph, once again singling out St Lucia Distillers as one of the better current producers. Produced by their John Dore still it is an absolute melting pot of flavours and a real demonstration of a beautiful pot distilled Rum. We also have to say that the Jamaican Gold and Jamaican Black were no slouches either. Both from Worthy Park, the only difference is the addition of extra caramel colouring. We also got to meet Ed Hamilton too which was definitely one to tick of the list! European bottlers were being sought on this visit….though sadly not for the St Lucia 9yr as Ed’s allocation has all already been bottled.
These guys were a real standout for us. 100 % Pot Still Rum distilled here in the UK. There is a real signature profile running through both the Gold and Spiced with a real hit of smoke which keeps things interesting. We predict good things in 2016 for these guys.
Nine Leaves Rum
The Nine Leaves range of Rums from Japan have been on our list for a while and we finally got to try them. Three interesting cask finished including quite a powerful Cabernet Sauvignon Cask and an American Oak Cask were all very different and all offered something unique. As expected the wine cask was very heavy on tannins and not for everyone but I quite enjoyed it. The real star though was the Clear which displayed once again, a really large amount of character as a result of the fermentation and pot distillation. One to pick up in the future.
We are already quite familiar with a lot of the Rum Nation releases but it was great to see their Rums on display there. The new Caroni 1999 was another accessible Caroni from them and now resides on our shelves.
Hampden Estate were also present, or should we say that Christelle was present. We are more than aware of Hampden Gold which has no age at all but a hell of a lot of flavour. What struck us was the amount of flavour carried by Rumfire even given its 63%…..we don’t own it yet but we will be looking to pick it up soon.
Other exhibitors of real note were the sublime offerings of Worthy Park Rum Bar Rum, the amazing Real McCoy and St Nicholas Abbey with their slightly more mature 5yr and sugar cane syrup. A great evening where we also bumped into our friend Sian…this years Boutique really trumped last years (which was also good) and we came away from the event with a real sense of a proper progression and new direction for the event with an emphasis on a few more independent bottlers really helping shake things up.
Again, a series of images seems way more appropriate than paragraphs attempting to sum up what a photograph can do quite easily.
The seminars were also great fun this year too. We got to attend two separate versions of the Velier Seminar with the charismatic Luca Gargano and we also got the opportunity to attend the Rhums of Martinique Room with Jerry Gitany and Benoit Bail which was a great experience……
House of Velier Seminar(s)
Rhums of Martinique Room
That pretty much concludes the photo tour of this years RumFest….as far as previous years go…there was a real focus this year on the hot discussion topic of ‘real rum’ and the seminars and exhibitors really did reflect this. Sure there were a few big hitters missing but our time was fully spent getting to talk to the exhibitors and to be honest if there had been a third day we would have had just as much to do and to see.
In terms of standout Rums from the Boutique RumFest and RumFest, we have several. The Rum Bar offerings from Worthy Park, Gold, Overproof and Rum Cream were all outstanding. Matugga Rum made a big impression on a lot of people including us. The Ed Hamilton Ministry of Rum Collection was a joy to try. The Ekte Rums and Nine Leaves also impressed us a lot. The new Foursquare releases have us VERY excited and the upcoming Habitation Velier releases are going to inspire some Rum Pokémon in us (Gotta Catch Em All). All in all, 2016 is lining up to be very exciting and very expensive!
We couldn’t sign off though without a story and a few pictures of the great friends that we met again and also met for the first time. We met a couple from the US, Timothy and Louann Mace who were very complimentary about this site and in fact used our updates on RumFest to plan their trip over here to the event which was great to hear as its good to know that we are pitching the right content…and that it is useful!
Rum people truly are great people
© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. 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.