Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow! and flowed it did…rum here, rum there, rum everywhere – the UK Rumfest & Cane Spirits Festival is heaven for rum lovers and it shows people that rum is more than a spirit – it´s a lifestyle with a whole culture surrounding it.
The UK RumFest brings together the industry’s plethora of blenders, distillers, bartenders and mixologists, writers, bloggers, brand ambassadors, rum enthusiasts – all joining in to celebrate all things rum.
Here you get a chance to try out both new and old, known and unknown rums and many cocktails , tiki drinks and rum punches of course, (oh the rum punches…) listen to sessions, dance with tropical dancers, taste caribbean food, watch bartender competitions – all to the rhythms of the caribbean and in the company of people who have that one thing in common – they all love rum!
The UK Rumfest 2011 took place from friday to sunday oct 14-16 at the Kensington’s Olympia in London with the friday reserved for the Boutique Rumfest (for the trade with tastings and sessions.) Saturday was the official Rumfest starting day and i don´t think i´ve seen a crazier crowd before when it comes to a room being packed with rum-lovers.
Also it was the London Cocktail Week starting the week before with 3 days left when i came into town:-)
But back to the friday and Boutique Rumfest. There was of course lots of rum to be tasted and since it was a calmer event we also got a much better chance to meet and talk to the producers about their products.
There´s an incredible amount of rums to be tasted, especially on the two official rumfest days, and i wasn´t able to taste it all i´m sure! i think there was over 400 different rums from well known brands like Zacapa, Foursquare, Bacardi, Havana Club, Appleton, Cockspur, Mount Gay, Chairman´s Reserve etc to smaller unknown brands like Les Coliniéres.
And apart from the big brands i got to try some of the to me unknown rums and other rums i`ve never tried before. Some of my favorites among those i´d not tried before are st Nicholas Abbey from Barbados, a top notch fantastic rum! (a review of their 12 yo will follow)
And Les Colinières – from Mauritius – naturally infused, so called “rum/rhum arrangé” in the islands of Mauritius and La Réuinion. Their coffee and passionfruit rums were just amazing! and would be perfect in tiki drinks. As far as i know their rums is not yet sold outside of Mauritius..
Also Rumfire was new to me. That is a Jamaican overproof white rum from the Hampden Estate which in Jamaica is known for its full, intensely flavorful pot still rums sold in bulk. Today`s Rumfire that now is released to the public is yesterday´s JB rum which was on the black market. The Rumfire is like a smoother version of JWray overproof, it has hints of that flavor but it`s not as upfront. A very interesting and tasty rum.
They made me a daiquiri with it and that was a nice daiquiri indeed, this rum mixes wonderfully. Also it won silver medal at the Ministry of Rum Tasting competition this year.
Interesting but a bit odd was the Madagascar rum Dzama, it was quite good i think but i couldn´t be friends with the aftertaste which is what i found to be odd…so i have mixed feelings about this rum. An exotic bird…i wouldn´t mind taste the rums again and take more time.
Also i finally got to try out Elements 8 Spiced, which i found to be quite tasty.
New for 2011 rumfest was the Tropical Food Market which was an entire area downstairs devoted to tropical food and delicacies – that´s where i got my freshly cut coconut! – with rum in it of course…There was also a shop entirely dedicated to muscovado sugar…
Also there was sessions and masterclasses and the one´s i got a chance to attend first was the “Don`t Fear the Blender” with Beachbum Berry and then the El Dorado.
DON´T FEAR THE BLENDER
I`m a friend of the blender, let me tell you that first.With the blender you get that aerated frothy thing you cannot really get with a shaker plus it does good things at the same time for you – it mixes, chills, dillutes, creates a froth)
The blender was first used in Havana in the Floridita, dating back to 1817 when it was first opened as “La Piña de Plata” – The Silver Pineapple in the place it still occupies, in the corner of Obispo and Monserrate streets. It got it´s name “El Florida” a 100 years later. The bartenders used to use 11 drinks shakers and you can just imagine the work…so when the blender appeared it was like a lifesaver and now it became easier to serve the never ending hords at Floridita. At the time the ice for the daiquiris was shaved.
Then Don the Beachcomber started to use the Hamilton Beach blender and more would follow.The blender aerates and dillutes some of the crushed ice just enough to “wake-up” the spirit. Some drinks requires just a quick flash blending while other wants 15-30 sek. In the Bum´s books the exact time for the blending is always written out.
This session was a real pleasure to attend and i wish it could be a weekendly habit…but alas…or if i could at least live neighbour with the Bum! i would go and borrow sugar…errr…rum…um…a tiki drink…
We got some tasty blended drinks too of course and here are the Bum`s recipes:
15 ml fresh lime juice
15 ml peach brandy
30 ml white rum
15 ml (0.5 oz) honey-mix
6 oz crushed ice
Blend for 20 sek, frappé
DEVIL´S ISLAND DAIQUIRI
22.5 ml fresh lime juice
60 ml Chairman´s Reserve Rum
22.5 ml honey butter mix
120 ml crushed ice (0.5 cup)
Let the blender go for a long time, 20 sek. Fine strain into a bitter-sugar rimmed glass, gently pressing the liquids.
Mix 4 tbsp demerara sugar with Fee´s aromatic bitters (4 big dashes)
HONEY BUTTER MIX
Unsalted butter and honey in equal proportions, heated up to dissolve the honey and melt hte butter, leave to room temp before using it.
Also you can make a delicious honey-butter-cream by using sugar, butter, heavy cream and honey.
The butter-honey-mix or cream mix gives a silky mouth feel to the drink that unless you already know – will never know what it is…
We also got some other nice drinks to imbibe like the always so tasty Missionary´s Downfall.
The session was hosted by Dave Broom (author of Rum) and Stefanie Holt, (El Dorado Global Brand Ambassador)
They took us through a journey to the land of many rivers, Guyana where the demerara rum is made. An interesting thing i learnt was that when the sugarcane fields are burnt a side effect is that the sugar in the cane is dissolved in the water that evaporates and thus makes the sugar content more concentrated and sweeter. The yeast is put in a molasses solution to get happy and multiply.
Further they spoke about the different stills and since i`m a DDL still geek i always find that interesting. What DDL does is simply to put as much Guyana as possible into the rum..
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY – RUMFEST!!
So saturday and sunday was the 2 days of Rumfest and these were 2 very intense days…rum tastings, cocktail and rum punches, tiki bartender of the year, sessions on rum, rum punch, rum, rum…and then the Golden Rum Barrel Awards.
This blog was one of four nominated “Rum Blog of the Year (Europe) and i`m very honored and wanna thank everyone who did vote for me. It didn´t make it all the way though..the prize was given to my good friends Peter and Pauline over at the Floating Rum Shack, who i think really deserved it! There was also four nominated blogs for the USA cathegory and the winner was Rumconnection.
All the awards you can read about at the bottom of this blog post.
Also there was the Tiki Bartender of the Year contest with the final on the sunday. There was 3 bartenders in the final and the winner was Mahiki`s head bartender Georgi.
What i particularly like about the Rumfest is that it is such a people thing, it´s relaxed and laid back with that caribbean feel spiced with quite a bit of tiki vibes, an environment i feel right at home in.
Yes there´s food too! i did eat some real good Caribbean food at Ian`s restaurant Cotton´s – a place i really can recommend if you go to London! i had their famous Mixed Jerk Fish Grill – parrot fish, tilapia, snapper and tiger prawns served with fried plantain and rice & peas and it was lovely! Washed down with cold Carib and Blue Marlin beers.
Also the awards dinner was an amazing experience – the Caribbean style dinner with the Butterscotch Pumpkin Soup with Goat Cheese and Spiced Pumpkin Seeds was really tasty.
And then came the Coconut Crumbled Chicken with Sweet Potato mash and Sauteed Spinach…finished off with a Rum drenched fruit dessert, coffee and plain dark chocolate…hmmmm…
Three bars in London i would recommend are Trailer Happiness, Montgomery Place and Callooh Callay – you can´t go wrong with any of them and if you go Trailer you`ll most likely see Damien fire up the roof.
To finish it off here´s a whole parade of various pictures to drool over and enjoy…:-)
Amazing Queens Park swizzle at the Montgomery Place
Something beautiful and tasty from Trailer Happiness…
The Zombie at Trailer Happiness.
And their fire show…putting the overproof rum soaked copper roof on fire…displaying all kinda colors, awesome!
It`s caribbean carnival at the UK Rumfest!
Cockspur Rum Punch
Foursquare got 3 awards…
Three charming rum smiles in the Plantation stand..if you go to Trailer Happiness they´ll make tasty drinks for ya!
Three happy rum people…(Stanislav Vadrna, Yours truly (Tiare) and Carl Kanto (chemist, distiller, El Dorado) i love this about events like this – the friends you meet both new and old.
I haven`t yet been able to figure out this nifty outfit….was it somebody´s outfit for the Golden Rum Barrel Awards? ( i think heard something…)
Les Colinières – rum arrangé from Mauritius
We could get fresh cut coconuts too…with rum in it!
St Nicholas Abbey from Barbados
Elements 8 Spiced
Black Tot Last Consignment sold by the Whiskey Exchange
In the Rum Frat House – it´s like the Mixohouse in New Orleans but with rum lovers.
Rum Punch with Kraken Black Spiced
Dzama from Madagascar
God for Tiki drinks..
No Rumfest without Ting…and with Banks Five Island it`s wonderful.
Like a lighter and smoother version (flavorwise) of the JWray overproof…but don`t let that deceive you – this rum is strong.
And here`s the original JWray and Ting! which was my corps reviver on the sunday…backed up with chocolate muffins.
Don Q Rum – good for a lot of things
Ian Burrell – the one and only – Global Rum Ambassador and founder of the UK Rumfest.
THE GOLDEN RUM BARREL OF THE YEAR 2011 WINNERS
Rum Distillery of the Year 2011
The Foursquare Distillery, Barbados
Rum Distiller of the Year 2011
Richard Seale (Four Square, Barbados)
Rum Blender of the Year 2011
Tito Cordero (Venezuela: Diplomatico)
Rum Blogger of the Year (Europe) 2011
The Floating Rum shack
Rum Blogger of the Year (The America’s) 2011
Rum Ambassador of the Year (UK) 2011 sponsored by Bar Life UK
Meimi Sanchez (Havana Club)
Rum Ambassador of the Year (International) 2011 sponsored by Drink International
David Cordoba (Bacardi Rum)
Jim Wrigley (Ron St.Teresa)
Best New Rum (Gold) 2011 sponsored by Coco Re’al
Abuelo Centuria, Panama
Best New Rum (White) 2011 sponsored by Coco Re’al
Banks 5 Island, Several Countries
Best New Rum Package 2011
Boutique RumFest Award 2011 sponsored by Imbibe Magazine
Doorly’s XO Rum, Barbados
The Rum Experience Rum Pioneers Award
Joy Spence from Appleton Jamaica rum. The first female Rum master blender.
Ed Hamilton from the Ministry of rum. Founder of the pioneering web page and rum forum.
I wanna raise a toast of El Dorado 15 Year Old rum for George Robinson, the head man at the Diamond Distillery in Guyana who passed away just a little while before the UK Rumfest. A toast was also held at the Golden Rum Barrel Awards.
UK Rumfest – see you next year! btw can you have too much rum?