Thursday, February 18, 2016

Denizen Rum Arrives in Washington State

Denizen Aged White & Merchant's Reserve Rums
Leavenworth, WA
It's true, Denizen Rums are now stateside, Washington State side that is and it's about time. These two lovely blends of the E&A Scheer are an answer to a time past, but not lost and most definitely not forgotten. In fact, after tasting them, you might likely begin to question any previous ideas of using (or making) overly distilled rums, which have very little to no detectable flavor or that lack substance, well, like vodka. Sorry, not sorry! Each of Denizen's expressions are thoughtfully created for the purpose of mixing without losing the essence of the rum's character. The Aged White Rum consists of a blend of both aged and un-aged Trinidadian rums married with a small portion of high-ester Jamaican rums. Pot still with contrast, bingo! Almost sounds like medical speak, but rest assured, it's highly therapeutic. That's right rum lovers, they are freeing the funk out of it, literally! The Merchant's Reserve is the marriage of aged and un-aged Jamaican Rums with Rhum Grand Arôme from Martinique. This rum blend is a living reincarnation of the blend that Trader Vic Bergeron used to make his "second adjusted Mai-Tai"; a true homage to another blend and blender. So cool, not to mention tasty! A slow clap for the rum's founder, Nicholas Pelis of Citizen Spirits. Now, thanks to American Northwest, these two amazing rums are being distributed here!

Join us for Denizen's Official Washington State Launch Party Events!

Saturday, Feb. 20th 7-10pm
Details here:

Sunday, Feb. 21st 7-10pm
Details here:

Monday, Feb. 22nd 7-10pm
Details here:


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Rum Fire Arrives in Washington State

Rum Fire at Liberty
Drink by Andrew Friedman

Rum is not dead. In fact, it's just starting to catch fire, particularly in Washington State. A new arrival has just hit the market with much to do; it's called Rum Fire. Those of you who like that funky, hogo character in their rum are in for a treat. Straight out of Trelawny, Jamaica, in the Overproof (63% ABV) category, this rum, like its label, does not lie. No, we aren't talking flavorless, neutral, 151 proof formulations here folks, we are talking about mouth full of flavor, Jamaican pot still rum. Oh hell yeah! J. Wray and Nephew Rum might have been your go to workhorse up until now, but, let's not get confused, Rum Fire is a thoroughbred. Well-endowed in all the right areas, Rum Fire will improve your Tiki game, move your mixed drinks and simply take your breath away. Plus, a little goes a long way, so there is good value as well. For more information, take a look at our article recounting the historic Hampden Estate several years back to learn a bit more about how Rum Fire is made.

Not surprisingly, this rum is already making a statement. Andrew Friedman, owner of Liberty, one of the long-time respected cocktail bars in Seattle, has reported it to be one of the two rums used in their new 'house blend' well rum. In a recent post, Andrew writes:

"Next trend! House blends!"

Our new #HouseBlend well rum? 5 parts @Ron_Cartavio silver/one part Rum Fire.

Guaranteed better #daiquiri.

Rum Fire & Ron Cartavio Silver
photo credit: Andrew Friedman, Liberty


Similarly, Mojito Restaurant, who recently launched their new cocktail menu, has made their decision as well. One of their new drinks is titled, TNT aka "Trelawny 'n' Ting" and it's dynamite alright. Luam Wersom, co-owner of Mojito, remarks, "this...oh man, this is my type of drink!". I doubt many will disagree either, just take a look, or even better, go have a drink!

TNT "Trewlany 'n' Ting"
Mojito Restaurant

Rum Fire (like Ron Cartavio Silver and Ting) is being distributed by American Northwest. You will soon find this Rum at retail liquor stores like QFC University Village, Esquin, Capco, Bevmo and Total Wine among others. And if you don't see it at you local liquor store (or bar), that means something's not right. So, ask them to order the Rum Fire and get your party started!

Join us for Rum Fire's Official Washington State Launch Party Events!

Saturday, Feb. 20th 7-10pm
Details here:

Sunday, Feb. 21st 7-10pm
Details here:

Monday, Feb. 22nd 7-10pm
Details here:


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Dictador Rums: From Colombia with Love...and Gin?

Meeting Event at Liberty

Dictador is not your typical rum from Colombia, nor was this meeting typical for The Rum Collective. Several weeks after we explored a full line of rums from Peru, we continued this South American tour into Colombia. Now, Colombia is well-known for many of its quality exports, but rum, and definitely gin, are not among them. So, what was so different, you ask? Instead of a full range of rums, from unaged to aged expressions, we tasted only well-aged, mature rums and a pair of gins. Yes, you read it right, GIN! But, but...this is a purely rum focused society, isn't it? True, but these Colombian Gins are not only made from sugar cane honey (reduced sugar cane juice), but they are both aged, one of which is done in rum casks. So, technically, they're related to rum and quite interesting to contrast in this context. Intriguing, eh? Let's move on then. Here is a brand that didn't want to produce just another Colombian Rum; they wanted to change the way you think about Rums from Colombia. Their rums seem to transcend tradition without losing any of its class; from how it's made to how it's marketed. First, and most importantly, Dictador Rums are not government run or produced. I'm not going to mention names, but quite a few rums from this country are. Second, take a look at the photo (above), their bottles are visually attractive on the shelf. They could have simply used a plain-Jane transparent bottle and a paper label, but they didn't. They used a squat, tapered neck bottle and added a bold, black polymer coating from Japan giving it a hint of technology and style, not to mention a better grip for pouring. Its black, matte finish concealing the contents within is no nonsense and grabs your attention prompting the question, "I wonder what is inside?" Their age statements highlighted in color are distinguished. Seriously, before you pop the cork, rum lovers might as well admit crushing on their package (no pun intended, funny though:). The compliments paid to the bottles at our meeting were of that tone. But, let's get serious, it's what inside that counts, right?

The meeting started and one of Liberty's rather quiet and humble bartenders, Andrew Dalan, brought out the greeting cocktail he created for this meeting. Now, if you have had a few of his inspirational cocktails before, there wasn't any surprise, he nailed it. Here's a look at his cocktail presentation and its recipe (see photo below).

Fitzcarraldo Cocktail

by Andrew Dalan

1oz Grapefruit juice
.5oz Honey
.25oz Raspberry Liqueur

Shaken and served up, orange peel garnish

Our tasting began with the gins. The Ortodoxy - Colombian Aged Gin (white bottle) is bright, with only a select few dominant aromas and flavors, notably, Juniper and mint. Of interest, it is made from fermented sugar cane honey, which is then five times distilled, extracting its fruits, spices and botanicals during the last distillation before ageing 6 months in oak casks. Its more aged sibling, Treasure - Colombian Aged Gin (black bottle), is rounded, more mellow in its bouquet possessing a gentle sweetness in its balanced aromas. It reveals a soft lemon zest and orange peel amidst hints of vanilla. It ages for roughly 35 weeks in previously filled Dictador Rum barrels and its medium bodied mouth feel is appreciated neat. Remember, we are talking about Caribbean ageing, where spirits age 2-3 times faster than that of temperate weathered England. While many of the guests were enjoying the Treasure, both in and out of the cocktail, other rum lovers commented on how they just found their go-to Gin for their next Caribbean Gin & Tonic!

Now, onward to the Rum!

The transition from tasting Gins to their Rums required only an open mind and some hand-to-mouth that was found most enjoyable, particularly when starting off with their 12 year old Rum. First, a discussion of Dictador's history and brief orientation about their rum making process was due. Dictador Rums are made at Distilleria Colombiana, located off the Caribbean coast of Colombia in the city of Cartagena de Indias. The distillery was founded by Don Julio Arango y Parra in 1913, when Colombia was known only as Nueva Granada. Legend has it, Don Julio Arango y Parra was the 3rd generation descendant of Severo Arango de Ferro, who emigrated from Spain in 1751 and became well known for making Cartagena the most important trading post for the Spanish Armada. Severo's duty there was to "increase trade" or in other words, improve tax collection, between Nueva Granada and the mainland. His reputation grew as did his power, which aptly landed him the name, Dictador. This nickname became branded and still remains today.

As the excitement to taste the rums grew, we paused to experience Dictador on screen.

Oh yeah!

We tasted through the first two expressions and a few notes were taken...

The 12yr, a blend of alembic pot and column distilled rums aged 8-14yr, offered up a pronounced honey like sweetness amidst balanced aromas of roasted almonds, toffee and marzipan. In contrast, the 20yr was chock-full of raisins, vanilla bean, currants, cherry tobacco, oiled leather and aged port under the nose. Both expressions had a silky, medium bodied mouth feel, however the finish on the 20yr (blend of rums aged 14-24yr) was notably more extended as one would expect. These two rums have a certain elegance; sipping like a fine brandy, no doubt.

Dictador Rums are made from sugar cane honey that is pressed from cane grown in the area's surrounding fields. Use of sugar cane honey is relatively unique, so why not molasses? In Colombia, molasses is earmarked by the government for biofuel making it economically undesirable with practical challenges. They employ an alembic copper pot still and a column still to distill their 12yr and 20yr Solera System Rums. Their rums are aged in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry oak barrels in a solera system, as Spanish sherry has been done traditionally in Jerez for years and are then blended by their master blender, Hernan Parra Arango.

The final two samples we tasted began with the XO Insolent and finished with the XO Perpetual, both distilled using only alembic pot still. Rums aged up to 25yrs were selected from their finest barrels including ex-bourbon casks and ex-sherry barrels.

Although both XO expressions did not have the forthcoming bouquets as the younger expressions, the XO Insolent presented subtle aromas of sweet coffee cake, dark chocolate beneath oak-driven vanilla nougat and caramelized honey over marshmallows. The XO Perpetual was overall more on the earthy side with notes of moist tobacco leaves, new leather, charred oak, dark cacao, vanilla nougat. The silky smooth mouth feel was present in both, however the finish of the XO Perpetual was less drying and more pronounced in duration than the XO Insolent. These Rums would do well in cigar pairings, and despite attempts, Dictador's Cigars were not yet available in Washington during our meeting. It is worth noting that each of Dictador's rums are distinctly different from one another and may be tasted individually or in another order just as well. Overall, our small sample of refined palates were partial towards the XO Perpetual. However, both XO expressions are complex and well worth another visit to further explore their unique attributes.

Andrew Dalan's closing cocktail was served just after we finished tasting our final expression. With his reported idea of a Cuba Libre, reconstructed for better (or worse, as they are very drinkable!), this cocktail far exceeded any idea of just 'free'. It's simple, classic presentation, yet rich flavors embodied living life in style, refined and sexy. Dictador style!!

The Rum Gods bless you Andrew Dalan for this thoughtful gem of a cocktail!

Cartagena Libre

Cartagena Libre
by Andrew Dalan

.25oz Lime juice
.25oz Simple syrup

Build on rocks, top with soda water
lime wedge garnish

We sipped our Cartagena Libre while the next Dictador video began...

The end.
But if you fancy more, there are a few additional videos on YouTube

A big thank you to Andrew Friedman (owner of Liberty) for his generosity and continued support of The Rum Collective!

A round of applause to Andrew Dalan for a pair of rum-tastic cocktails!

Cheers to Dictador Rum for their support and to American Northwest for making this remarkable brand available to rum-lovers throughout Washington State.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Ron Cartavio: A Recap of the Official WA State Launch Party & Afterparty Events

Ron Cartavio Tasting at Liberty

The series of Ron Cartavio official launch party events began at Liberty in a similar style as many of our meetings. Rum-loving individuals slowly found their way to the back room and seating became scarce thereafter. This meeting marked The Rum Collective's second "official" rum launch of the year in Washington State; however in this case, there was a whole line of interesting rums, instead of a single expression. Rum from Peru, you say? Known more for its pisco and wine, rum didn't register yet as one of Peru's many fine crafts. Not surprisingly, guests left with a new perspective. This new view hastened by the refreshing greeting cocktail created exclusively for our meeting by one of Liberty's (and Seattle's) more than talented rum-oriented bartenders, Megan Radke.


Greeting Cocktail
photo credit: Andrew Friedman

Greeting Cocktail
by Megan Radke

.5oz Orgeat (Giffard)
.5oz Grapefruit juice
.5oz Lemon juice
.75oz Apricot Liqueur (Giffard)

Ron Cartavio's history surfaced as guests sipped their cocktail, looking over the five expressions in snifters set before them. This rum brand, although relatively new to Washington State (see our article from the WSCLB days here), is not new at all. In fact, it has been being produced commercially in Peru since April 29, 1929. The use of the term Rum is a bit more stringent in Peru. Fresh distillate or aguardiente, must be aged at least 1 year in a oak cask before it can be called Rum. This rum bears the name of el Capitan Español Don Domingo Cartavio, who acquired the land in 1675. Sugar cane began being harvested for refined sugar on the land shortly thereafter. This fertile area became known as the Chicama Valley named after the river running through it, located just south of the Ecuador border. Our meeting's discussion detailed everything from the brand's year-round harvesting of their sugar cane and scale of molasses production to their continuous fermentation and wood management program, including a most diverse portfolio of wooden casks for ageing. In conjunction with a slide show, guests got an inside look at their rum making process. To see a few of the photos from the distillery or more in-depth quality rum reviews, take a look at Rum Gallery. All of Ron Cartavio's sugar cane and the molasses, which they now use for their rums, is 100% Peruvian. That's important and not all brands can say that in today's rum business. The distillery, originally started by Jose Carnera, a distiller from Cuba, began producing their rum from fermented sugar cane syrup using a simple alembic still. Later, molasses became a more suitable base and the alembic was replaced with a 4000 liter John Dore Pot Still, made in England, circa 1953. Wait, Peruvian Rum from a Pot Still? Yes! Tell us more, the eyes in the audience nodded in approval. Today, with only a few exceptions, exclusive use of column stills are exceedingly the "norm" for most rum producers in countries colonized by Spanish. That isn't a bad thing, just a fact. In addition to Cartavio's pot still, they also employ a continuous vacuum column still in their rum making process. Here's the advantage of utilizing both column and pot stills, they can create "light" and "heavy" aguardientes, which they blend in various ratios and then age in selected casks to make each of their rums. A trivial question that was posed at the meeting regarding this was, "Which other rum brands do this?" Well, the time to taste had begun starting with their younger expressions, Cartavio Silver and Cartavio Black. The age statements on their label reflect a weighted average of the rums inside. The color, aromas and flavors of these two expressions are mostly consistent with their age statements. Here's a few notes summarized from the tasting:
Cartavio Silver reveals a light sweetness, anise notes and hints of oak in its aromas that are again appreciated on the palate. Its unfiltered and clearly darker sibling, Cartavio Black shows more caramelized sugar, vanilla, oak tannin and subtle baking spices of cinnamon and clove. Notable in these young rums is the front to mid palate mouth feel, pleasantly viscous, which transitions quickly to a mildly drying, heated finish. 
During many of our tastings, one can often identify industry (bartenders, bar managers, retailers etc.) in the audience as they raise the question of price faster than others and for good reason. In Washington State, sticker shock and pricing disappointments in rum and all spirits, are quite normal due to our leading tax and fee structure nationally. However, at this meeting, the prices announced were stunning. "I'm sorry, could you repeat that?", several people replied to the price. In fact, the Cartavio Silver (and Black) wasn't just priced competitively; it was priced to win the well and is arguably, one of, if not the best value, "light" or very young rums available by distributor in Washington State. Oh yeah! The Selecto 5yr was the next expression on the itinerary and a testament to unique harmony achieved by the various types of wooden barrels employed in their ageing program. Rums from 9 different casks were blended to produce this rather unique 5 year old rum. The bouquet of the Selecto 5yr opens up more fully after a few minutes offering soft vanilla, ripe tropical fruits (papaya, guava) and more pronounced spices amidst hints of leather and sherry. Its well-rounded flavors in the mouth progress evenly to a dry, sharper whiskey-like finish. Surprisingly, there are even soft cognac notes to appreciate, and after probing Federico Schulz, Cartavio's Master Blender, are due to the time in Slovenian oak casks. Clearly this is a rum full of potential for both classic cocktails or for simply pouring into a glass over ice. Like the Selecto 5yr, the Solera 12yr, was a crowd favorite, and with the pricing, again, solid value. This rum is aged in a classic Solera system; it's rich, complex flavors (toffee, prunes, candied nuts, cocoa) are in balance with a lingeringly smooth, yet dry finish. It begs for another glass, or let's be honest, another bottle! The final expression, Cartavio XO, is succulent, dessert-like rum of fine sipping quality with an elegant decanter to match. Released to commemorate their 80th Anniversary, it's a blend of rums with an average age of 18yr, that range from 10 years all they way up to 30 years! On any other night, the XO might be the choice rum for a nightcap, however, tonight, there was more on the agenda. Megan's closing cocktail was served straight away featuring the Cartavio Solera 12yr. Brilliantly boozy, stirred and full of big nut flavors.

Nuttin' but rum yum! 

Closing Cocktail

Closing Cocktail
by Megan Radke

.5oz Dry vermouth
.25oz Black Walnut Liquor
.25oz Raw sugar
3 dashes Black Walnut Bitters

The After Party part 1: Rumba

Entering the hottest rum bar in Seattle, one will always find something new and attractive; on this day, it was an exclusive menu to further highlight some of Ron Cartavio's mixing potential. Jim Romdall, Rumba's bar manager and bartender extraordinaire, offers a simple, yet diverse array of cocktails to satisfy each palate in the crowd. Here's a couple of our favorites...

Peruvian Punch

Peruvian Punch
by Jim Romdall

Make oleo saccharum from peels of 4 lemons and 8oz sugar...

Add 32oz black tea and dissolve sugar...

40oz Cartavio Silver & Selecto 5yr blend
10oz Macchu pisco
10 dashes orange flower water
6oz lemon juice
6oz lime juice
750ml sparkling wine

(Note, when I asked Jim for the recipe afterwards, there wasn't total recall...but isn't this the case with all Incan secrets?)

The Esoteric Industry Drink

The Esoteric Industry Drink
by Jim Romdall

The After Party part 2: Tacoma Cabana

Tacoma's Tiki game is strong and Tacoma Cabana doesn't hold anything back. If you have been in to visit Jason Alexander, co-owner and 2014 Iron TikiTender champion, then no introduction is needed. Jason went all out with the Cartavio cocktail only menu in light of Halloween. In fact, they were so spooky good, he literally ran out of a few of the rums to pour before the night was over!

Take a look at his menu!

They all looked as good as they tasted!!

Creepy Cartavio Cooler
by Jason Alexander

.75oz lime juice
.5oz Don's mix
.5oz honey syrup
.25oz curacao

A sincere thank you to everyone who came out to join us and learn about Ron Cartavio.

Big respect to Andrew Friedman, owner of Liberty and the talented Megan Radke for their support and generosity.

 Cheers to Jim Romdall (Rumba) and Jason Alexander (Tacoma Cabana) for their time and dedication to awesome rum cocktails and their help in making the Ron Cartavio After Parties so much fun!!

Lastly, a big round of applause for American Northwest, who distributes Ron Cartavio in Washington State and Jim Driscoll, owner of Ekeko Fine Wines & Spirits, their importer.
Thank you very much for your support!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Unveiling Cuban Rum in the USA: The Private Sessions

The quintessential forbidden fruit of the American is now ripe for the picking. Sipping Cuban Rum, smoking a 'Cuban'; temptations that only a handful of US citizens seriously considered or acted on up until December 17th, 2014. That is the day when President Obama, after earlier discussions with Cuban President Raul Castro, broke the ice in US-Cuban relations with a formal statement to ease trade restrictions and overall improve diplomatic ties with Cuba. Whoa! Yes, it was true and after 53 years, it seemed there might indeed be some thawing of the 1962 Cuban embargo that brought chills in the Cold War era. It was certain, effective January 16th, 2015, a licensed US Citizen, could spend money in Cuba and bring back up to $400 in Cuban made goods, of which up to $100 could be rum and cigars. So this meant you could now go, have your passport stamped legally (pretty cool if you are a US citizen) and not sweat the disposable Visa scenario, dread a lost passport or fear fines and imprisonment after spending a bit of money on daiquiris down in Cuba upon return. Oh yeah! If that wasn't enough of a confidence booster for securing your next travel date, on May 26th, 2015, US Secretary of State removed Cuba from the list of countries identified as being a "state sponsor of terrorism". Thank you John Kerry! This was fantastic news and although it will take an act of Congress to lift the existing embargo, these friendly gestures have given hope to Cuban rum producers for increased trade and US citizens' more opportunities for future travel to Cuba to know more about this country and its people. Even Bacardi, with its Cuban roots and precarious history there, voiced a magnanimous reply to these developments, "We hope for meaningful improvements in lives of Cuban people and will follow any changes with great interest." Such a statement resonates with many and is worthy of praise. Today, despite these positive steps forward, Cuban Rum is not yet legally available for sale in the USA and is technically still illicit contraband unless procured in Cuba in accordance with the above regulations. However, the billion dollar prospect of selling Cuban Rum in the USA is not being taken lightly. One Cuban Rum brand, Havana Club, owned jointly by Pernod-Ricard and government-owned Corporation Cuba Ron, is ready to deliver. Until then, we will hope for more positive developments towards lifting the embargo. In the meantime, as America packs its bags for Havana, there's one question on everyone's mind.

Which Cuban Rums should I bring back? 

Well, soon after the news broke, a CNBC video surfaced about what your $100 USD limit could buy you in Cuba. Sadly, Eamon Javers' disappointing blurb on basically one brand and a few prices attempted to sum it up. Come on, seriously? If you are going to travel to Cuba, one would think a more informative production might arise. No, not so much. Then, there was Conon O' Brien's fun video series on his trip to Cuba. Despite its comedic value, it wasn't really that helpful in regards to understanding or choosing a Cuban Rum. Honestly, nothing substitutes for first-hand knowledge gained from a personal tasting or a trip to Havana. So, how can we learn more before the flight? In light of the friendly open communication between our two countries, the time is right for taking the initiative to open up guided educational opportunities to learn more about this island's rum.

The Cuban Rum Initiative

This Initiative will be composed of a three-part series of private, educational Cuban rum tastings. This foremost comprehensive series will feature vertical tastings of various expressions from nearly every brand of Rum in Cuba. Its purpose is to promote awareness of and offer further insight into Cuban-style Rum. Seriously, who doesn't want to know more about, and better yet, actually personally experience Cuban Rum? Well, naturally, The Rum Collective does!

The Cuban Rum Initiative tastings are private events.
Invites will go out to members of The Rum Collective. 
There will be limited seating.
Reservations will be required.
Cuban food, music and original cocktails will be present.


Edmundo Dantes
Havana Club Rum
Ron Arecha
Ron Caney
Ron Cubay
Ron Mulata
Ron Legendario
Ron Santiago de Cuba
Ron Varadero


If you have questions or feel you should receive an invite as a guest member, please contact:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Festival Rum Bahamas 2015: The Food

Paul "Rhum Chef" Yellin
Festival Rum Bahamas offered a menu featuring local cuisine, served up fresh with compliments by a couple world renowned chefs. It is not easy (or accurate) to talk local or authentic Caribbean cooking without talking about Rum. Each country has their own variation on a theme and from Bahamas to Barbados, rum is part of the social fabric that sets the table. Try talking French cuisine without cheese or Indian without mentioning a spice. Seriously, it's just wrong and plus, the thought of no rum? Yeah, let's not go there... One thing is certain, those who breached the walls of Fort Charlotte were in for a king's feast with a view! Our last article, "All The Rum", showcased the liquid highlights in the Festival that is a celebration of Rum, Food and Culture. This article, the second of our three part series, sharpens the focus on Food. Separate them I try, but the lines of distinction often blur nicely, particularly after a few tasty rums, so I make no apologies for any 'off topic' photos along the way. Grab your glass, lick your lips and enjoy!

Paul Yellin, one of the chefs, is Bajan, trained and talented. If you were lucky enough to find a seat at the two rum & food seminars he gave at the Festival, everything else would have seemed like bonus. I have visited Paul several times now and each time we meet, I am more impressed; partly by his down-to-Earth nature, but mostly by how magical the hand-to-mouth experience is when the food is served shortly thereafter!

Paul prepared a rumtastic menu to enjoy. Oh, and his seminars were FREE...jus' sayin! Oh yeah!!

Take a peak at the selection of rums!

The Menu:



Good God Man! 

It seemed as though each plate that arrived changed flavor, texture and tone, all the while improving on the previous and slowly, but surely building towards...

3rd: HERB BAKED LIONFISH in a rich seafood Creole sauce paired with El DORADO 3yr RUM

wait for it.....



5th: CHOCOLATE RUM BALLS rolled in pralines paired with BLACKWELL RUM

6th: CHOCOLATE & BACON bites paired with OLD BRIGAND RUM
(sorry no photo: photographer was busy eating it! Tasty!!)

Thank you Paul Yellin for the exquisite pairing and hope to see you again next year!!

Ladies and gentlemen, this was but one of the rum and food pairing seminars to attend and I haven't even started on the food booths throughout the Fort! 

The bottles hanging in the trees created a wonderful ambiance surrounding the entrance to Alexandra's at the Fort. A loose collection of food booths featuring a variety of different delectable dishes, it was the beginning of the foodie trail. Fresh conch salads to grilled meat, this was the spot.


Just a few steps away, the folks from Gone Fish'n had grills on swole, Chicken, steak, pork and fish, all grilled up Bahamian style. Oh and did I mention all their house-made marinades. Boom!

Put it in my belly!!!

Care for a healthy serving of grilled salmon in a burger?

Oh, and an ice cold local craft beer didn't sound like a bad idea either. Pirate Republic is a new brewing company with a nice selection. I'm told by their CEO, Susan Larson, a few more styles are coming soon.

A few booths away, you could take your pick...

Whether you were interested in the savory or the sweet, Festival Rum Bahamas had you covered!

In the heat of the day, fresh pressed sugar cane juice or Guarapo is refreshing and delicious. Island Cane was crushing it up right. I didn't hesitate to mix it with a little rum!

Rum and desserts are notorious in these parts. However, when they are signed, Confectionately Yours, well...

You eat it happily!

Drunken Guava: Guava cupcake infused with dark rum and 
topped with guava rum buttercream frosting

Rum cupcakes are a perfect treat, but have you tried Rum Cakes from the Bahamas Rum Cake Factory?? Moist and full of love they stand out above the rest. More on this local shop coming soon...

Best enjoyed hot, sticky sweet...

Well, if one rum & food seminar wasn't enough awesome, there was another fabulous pairing offered, which one could simply sit in on. No registration, no lines, just grab a seat. I stress this, as these food & rum pairing seminars were free to anyone, included in your admission price. Seating was key, not surprisingly, for when Chef Geoffrey Blythe and Carlton Grooms (Director at Papa's Pilar, co-founder of International Rum Council), the authors of the game-changing "Rum & Contemporary Cuisine" took the stage atop Fort Charlotte, no seat was left unfilled. In fact, many simply stood to listen and look out for extras samples!

A perfect atmosphere for listening to a world-class chef and rum connoisseur/producer talk about what they love, whilst sipping rum and tasting their gourmet rum-focused cuisine. A light breeze caressed our backs under shade in 80 F degrees (27 C) heat.

The Rum Kitchen

1st: Agricole and shrimp chowder featuring Rhum J.M  
Grassy herbaceous flavors of the rhum along with the heat from the white rhum merge wonderfully with the creamy flavors and richness of the pancetta without overpowering the subtle flavors in each.
-Geoffrey Blythe

Yes Please!

In this brilliant four dish experience, the following pairings came next:

2nd: Roast Root Vegetable Salad paired with Bambarra Gold Rum

3rd: Five Spice Pork Belly paired with confit pineapple paired with AFROHEAD 7yr Rum

The sweet caramel notes of the AFROHEAD and youth of the rum combine well with the richness of the pork and spice notes of the sauce. The tropical flavors of the pineapple further bring out the depth of the rum.
-Geoffrey Blythe

4th: Rum Marshmallow S'mores paired with Plantation Trinidad & Tobago Original Dark Rum

One of the guests figured it out alright!!

Well done Geoffrey Blythe and Carlton Grooms!!

After the seminar, I tried to gather my thoughts and emotions about the food I enjoyed and the superb quality of this event as I looked out over the Fort's wall.

Beautiful Bahamas!

As the sun went down and night took over, the real party had just begun!

Stay tuned for the final article, Festival Rum Bahamas 2015: The Culture


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Festival Rum Bahamas 2015: All The Rum

Center: Captain Jack (aka Rick Martinez)
Bottom Right: Pepin Argamasilla
The second year of any rum festival is often telling. Idealists, scoffers and onlookers alike may wonder, either she'll float and sail onward, or raise the white flag. Festival Rum Bahamas left little to wonder as they once again took over Fort Charlotte; this time further grasping the imagination. For me, the anchor dropped when my eyes met those of Captain Jack. Needless to say, the search for my next rum least for a moment. Honestly, I did a double take and questioned my senses. I had just tasted 50 Rums in the Tasting Competition, (oh, and a pair of refreshing Sands Beers over lunch) but nothing irresponsible. I looked again, could it actually be Cap'n Jack Sparrow!? Well, I wasn't seeing things. I was in the Bahamas, a home to many a pirate and by the looks of the Fort's decor, they weren't straying far from their history. In fact, after meeting him, his walk and talk were simply amazing, point on with the character played by Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. Friendly and full of spirit (pun intended), Cap'n Jack, aka Rick Martinez, was the type of top notch entertainer, and literally, one of many, each visitor would have the pleasure to watch and interact with at the Festival. Awesome! So I filled my cup with the local swashbuckling John Watling's Amber Rum and as day became night, my understanding became clear, Festival Rum Bahamas was not going anywhere, but rather they meant for the world of rum lovers to learn about and come to them. Some may recall my recent article, talking up the promise of last year's Festival; this year that promise was rendered.

Dead men tell no tales and I've returned from Nassau with some highlights of this epic three day Festival. Feel free to grab a glass of your favorite rum, open another browser window and turn up the volume on the short video below for those pirates at heart!

Rum was well-mixed, but far from hidden at Festival Rum Bahamas. To find the next potation, one only had to choose whether to go left or right, up or down. There were rum & food lectures at the lookout up top and blind rum tastings in the dungeon below. I doubt Captain Jack had to say, "Why is the Rum Gone?" and mean it at this party. Let's take a look at a small sample of the rum booths where one could find quality cocktails and generous samples. Try it and if you like, you could buy a bottle to take home before you leave! Rumtastic!!

AFROHEAD Rum 7 year

AFROHEAD Rum, is a relatively new brand from Harbour Island, Bahamas, and with its impressive new logo and charming character, generated much attention. Crowds gathered around this conversation starter and everyone wanted to get a taste of their two aged expressions. If you don't know it yet, you will soon...

Let's head south to Panama. How about a little taste of Ron Abuelo?

Yes, please!!

In a prime location, the local John Watling's Rum was offering their full line of rums and more. John Watling's Rum Distillery is also nearby and definitely worth a visit.

John Watling's Rum Booth

The Plantation Rum stand never disappoints. 

They proudly display their well-deserved medals and a beautiful line-up of unique blends and vintages. 


The judges of the Tasting Competition held public educational tastings deep inside the Fort. Guests could walk in and learn about each of the rums entered into the competition among many others, join in for a blind tasting or simply cool off from the outside sun. Rum tasting in the dungeon!

The charming Mike Streeter (Rum Connection and International Rum Council co-founder) brought out the smiles of quite a few on their rum education journey (see photo above & right).

In addition to the public educational tasting, each of the brands that entered the competition were on display with their medals.

Here's a few to note for your next shopping trip.

Ron Abuelo 7yr, Ron de Jeremy, Plantation Nicaragua 2003
Congratulations to all the winners! 

Ron Abuelo 12yr, Plantation 20th Annivesary, El Dorado 15yr

For more on the tasting competition and results, Rum Connection has the details.

Bacardi, with its rich history in the Bahamas, could not be missed. 

Tucked away and relaxed, enter Ron Zacapa...

At the end of the day (or beginning), if you could find a table or a few inches of elbow room at the bar, Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros was in full effect.


Stay tuned for the next article of the series, Festival Rum Bahamas 2015: The Food