Official Press Release – Winners Announced at Fourth Annual Golden Rum Barrel Awards

Here is the official press release:



Raising a toast to the industry’s finest individuals and the best blends in the business, winners of the fourth annual Golden Rum Barrel Awards are revealed.

Taking place at London’s swanky The May Fair Bar, The Rum Experience presented an evening of canapés and cocktails with host Ian Burrell presenting gongs to the likes of Tito Cordero, who received the ‘Master Blender of the Year’ accolade, A Mountain Of Crushed Ice that picked up ‘Rum Blogger of the Year’ and Destilerias Unidas S.A., receiving the esteemed ‘Rum Distillery of the Year’.

This year’s awards paid homage to a handful of industry luminaries who became the first batch of inductees into the Rum Experience Hall Of Fame, including Lorena Vásquez Ampié, Jose Sanchez Gavito and the late Laurie Barnard who was honoured posthumously as one of the greatest rum makers of his generation.

The annual Awards are part of the the UK RumFest celebrations, the largest rum and sugar cane festival in the world that took place across the weekend at London’s ExCeL Centre. Full information on the Awards, UK RumFest and The Rum Experience can be found at The Rum Experience website.

Returning for a fourth year, the Golden Rum Barrel Awards recognised exquisite, stand-out rums, as well as individuals, who have made a significant contribution to the rum industry over the last twelve months.

Winners were carefully selected by Global Rum Ambassador, Ian Burrell and a panel of experts with awards including ‘Rum Blogger of the Year’, A Mountain of Crushed Ice and Destilerias Unidas S.A. (Venezuela) who picked up ‘Rum Distillery of the Year’ plus Virgin Gorda Rum receiving ‘Boutique Rum of The Year’. 2013’s Master Blender of the Year was picked up by the hugely talented Tito Cordero for both his depth of experience and for producing what is, arguably, the finest and most consistent rum with his Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva blend.

The inaugural ‘The Rum Experience Hall Of Fame’, launched on Saturday as part of the UK RumFest, recognised those who have proved to be a phenomenal force within the industry. Master Blender Lorena Vásquez Ampié‘s dedication to the promotion of Guatemalan rums, particularly Ron Zacapa to a new and discerning rum clientele was recognised as the first in a number of inductees on the night.

Passionate about the art of crafting premium rum, Lorena is driven by her quest for perfection and is one of a small number of female master blenders in the world. Jose Sanchez Gavito has been a master blender for over 36 years and has been pushing the boundaries for new rum throughout his career. After retiring, from making rum in Mexico for Bacardi, Jose then joined the Bacardi Global team to create a new wave of “retro rums” such as the Bacardi ‘Heritage edition’, which has broken new ground and re-introduced Bacardi rum to the cocktail & mixology world.

Laurie Barnard, Chairman of St. Lucia Distillers, was seen by many as one of the greatest rum makers of his generation. A man with great dreams and ambition for Caribbean rum to be seen as the great spirit, worldwide. He was committed to quality control, as well as diversity in the production and distribution of his rum. Sadly Mr Barnard passed away in October 2012 but his legacy lives on through his rums like Chairman’s Reserve and Elements 8.

Master Distiller Richard Seale was awarded for constantly proving that “Rum innovation is rum tradition waiting to happen”. Richard Seale is a rum trend setter. A 3rd generation rum maker, he was definitely “born to make rum”.

Francisco Don Pancho Fernandez is a pioneering Master Blender and for over 50 years, Cuban born Don Pancho has been involved in making great Spanish styled rum. During the 1970’s as director of the Cuban Beverage Industry, Don Pancho helped in the renovation process of the rum industry in Cuba, introducing modern technology, renovating the cask inventories and modernising the plants and distilleries.

He also helped to improve fermentation, production and blending techniques that set the standard worldwide enabling him to travel the world and interact with different spirit industries such as Whisky in Scotland and Vodka in Poland. These multicultural exchanges developed his experience and skill and made Don Pancho the quintessential Master Blender he is today, with a unique and personal touch. Rums like Zafra 21, Ron Abuelo and of course Ron de Jeremy rum has kept Don at the top of his game.


Picture courtesy The Floating Rum Shack


Boutique Rum of the Year sponsored Imbibe Magazine
Virgin Gorda Rum

‎Rum Distillery of the Year
Destilerias Unidas S.A. (Venezuela)

Master Blender of the Year sponsored by Green Engineering
Tito Cordero

Rum Blogger of the Year sponsored by Don Q Rum
A Mountain Of Crushed Ice

Rum Experience Hall of Fame Award
Lorena Vásquez Ampié
Jose Sanchez Gavito
Laurie Barnard
Richard Seale
Francisco Don Pancho Fernandez

Ian Burrell, Global Rum Ambassador comments - 

“This year’s Golden Rum Barrel Awards plays tribute to the pioneers within the the industry whether blend or being.

Rums rising popularity throughout the world can be attributed to many of these esteemed individuals or brands and we are thrilled to announce such an incredible range of distillers, master blenders, ambassadors and rum blends from all over the world.”