Firstly, a little aside. If you have read any content on this site previously, you will know how much we enjoy and respect the work of Foursquare Rum Distillery’s Richard Seale. At Boutique RumFest we got to meet him. The evening was destined to be enjoyable after that moment.
So, on to the Boutique RumFest.
The whole experience was our first chance to sample the delights of the weekend as events had previously conspired to keep us away. We were fortunate enough to be allowed access to the Boutique RumFest which started off proceedings at 3pm on the Friday. We arrived at Euston, jumped in a taxi, checked into the hotel, took on refreshments and undertook the arduous journey down the stairs to the ILEC Conference Centre. Once inside we were greeted by a whole host of brands that we had not previously heard of and a few that we were familiar with. First up was Gold of Mauritius, who through good fortune, we had prior knowledge of. Amazingly, the Rums producer, Frederic Bestel was in attendance. There were then a few brands that we had not previously heard of. Amrut’s Two Indies Rum, various Rums (flavoured and unflavoured) from Fiji courtesy of Paradise Beverages, Koval Rum from Chicago and Sippin from London. All unique and interesting products in their own right. Familiar brands were also present in Ron Cubay, The Duppy Share, Dos Maderas, Clarkes Court, Green Island, Ron Centenario, Seven Fathoms, Opthimus, The Real McCoy, English Harbour and St Nicholas Abbey.
So many brands in a confined area for us to speak to, the beauty of the Boutique RumFest lies in the fact that you can grab more time with the exhibitors to hear about the Rums and their plans.
Two Indies from Amrut, which should hopefully see a release in the UK pre-Christmas is a blend of younger Caribbean Rums from Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana blended with a 3-year-old Indian Rum made from Jaggery Goor which is palm sugar obtained from the Date palm Tree. We have plenty of experience with jaggery goor (one half of Rum Diaries just happens to be Bengali) and when poured over fresh Luchi (a Bengali flatbread) it is sublime! This Rum was a real treat and I hope to grab a bottle as soon as it sees a release.
Paradise Beverages has a vast array of their Fijian Rums. Flavoured Rums included Golden Honey, Coconut, Coffee, White Chocolate, Banana (very successful which is hard to execute), Rum Liqueur and they also had a White Rum. Their range of Bounty Rums included a great Overproof Rum, Dark Rum, Spiced Rum and a White. Stepping things up they also had Ratu Spiced Rum, Ratu 5 Year Old Dark Rum and their limited release Lautoka 12 Year Old Solera Rum. We really need to reacquaint ourselves with these Rums as the range has a lot to offer.
Sippin had a very interesting pair of flavoured Rums. Both at 37.5% abv, there is a Mulled expression flavoured with Orange, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Ginger amongst other things which is going to be just right for drinking in a month or so as the weather chills and a Spiced expression containing Lime, Honey and Ginger which is both refreshing and has a real kick of heat from the ginger. Both would be ideal served hot or cold. Good stuff.
Dos Maderas with their sherry cask finishing methods add a new dimension to the base Rums and we would like more time with all there expressions. They had three expressions. The 5 + 3, 5 + 5 PX and Luxus. All expressions utilise Rums aged in their countries of origin, Barbados and Guyana. They are then shipped over to Bodega Williams and Humbert and aged for a second period. The 5 + 3 utilises 5 Year Old Rums and has an additional 3 Year Solera ageing in their 20 Year Old Dos Cortados Sherry Casks. The 5 + 5 PX utilises the same process and base Rums but also has another 2 Year Solera ageing in their 20 Year Old Don Guido (Pedro Ximinez) casks. The Luxus utilises 10 Year Old Rums as a base and then undergoes an additional 5 Year Solera ageing in their 20 Year Old Don Guido (Pedro Ximinez) casks. Rancio is the key word here………
St Nicholas Abbey
St Nicholas Abbey is a brand that we are familiar with. We own the White and 10 Year Old Expressions and really enjoy them both. We also got to try the 15 Year Old…unbelievable stuff. New to the line-up is the natural progression for St Nicholas Abbey, their own 5 Year Aged Rum. Made on their estate, in their still, and aged by them. Both the taste and aroma are wonderful and come it’s 2015 release, interest should be at hysteria levels for this Rum, and rightly so.
The Real McCoy
The Real McCoy is a brand that we’ve had our eye on for a while given that its origins can be found at Foursquare Distillery in Barbados. The Real McCoy is the Rum inspired by William McCoy, a Rum Runner who during prohibition times anchored off the coast of Long Island and supplied Rum to the knowledgeable few. We got to meet Bailey Pryor, company CEO and Emmy Award winning Director of The Real McCoy, a film about the life of William McCoy. We already had high expectations for these Rums and this was confirmed once we got to try them. The 3, 5 and 12 Year Old expressions are a great representation of Bajan Rum and once again, a real credit to Foursquare Distillery. They are not just repeats of Doorlys 3 and 5, they are their own animal and display their own characteristics whilst still belonging to the Foursquare stable.
Gold Of Mauritius
Gold of Mauritius is a brand that we have recently come to know as I was fortunate enough to meet a few weeks ago with Darius from Trilogy Beverages who are distributing the Rum in the UK. The Rum is an interesting one for sure and talking with Darius and Fred gave an insight into the processes involved and the essential barrel choice and barrel prep. The Rum has a pretty unique character that allows it to be unbelievably tasty on its own but also allows it to mix well. I also had the opportunity to try something that was pulled from beneath the counter.I REALLY need to try it again as it was another beautiful Rum.
Ron Cubay, a brand that we have believed in since their arrival in the UK had their new Extra Viejo expression available for tasting for the first time in UK. It is a blend of aged stock, both white and dark, which is then filtered before bottling in one of the most striking presentation bottles that we’ve ever seen, all accompanied by a beautiful display box. Look out for an update to the Ron Cubay article soon to including tasting notes for the Extra Viejo.
This then leads nicely onto what we believe was the truly defining moment of the whole evening. Antigua Distillery Ltd had brought along their English Harbour line of Rums. The 5 Year Old you can already read about on Rum Diaries Blog. We also got to sample the 10 Year Old which kicked things up a notch in terms of depth of flavour but still had that satisfying kick. They had also brought along the 25 Year Old English Harbour 1981. It was beautiful. Probably one of the more complex Rums that we have tasted up to this point. It was a discussion point all evening between us, so much so that whilst sitting in Euston Station on Monday morning awaiting the train home, we ordered a bottle.
We were also able to meet up with Peter Holland of The Floating Rum Shack, Ben Gane of Drink More Rum, Robert Burr of Rob’s Rum Guide, Helena Tiare Olsen of A Mountain Of Crushed Ice and numerous other Rum Royalty. We also had the opportunity to meet up with some wonderful distributors too. Maya and Francis from Distillnation, Jenny from Sip Or Mix, George and Jessica from The Westbourne Drinks Company and Darius from Trilogy Beverages to name a few. Boutique RumFest was a really great opportunity to experience new Rums and to get an insight into the processes involved in getting a new brand to market away from the noise of the main event……but of course the highlight for us was having a photograph taken with Ian Burrell, Global Rum Ambassador. A real gent and a true champion of Rum.
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