Athens Rum and Whiskey Festival 2017

This was the second rum festival in Athens (rum and whiskey together this year) but my first time to attend the event which was taking place in the impressive neo-classical Zappeion Hall, built in 1878 which also is conveniently located near the beautiful park, the National Gardens around the city center with two metro stations nearby.

The festival was small but sweet…with a good vibe – and drunken crowds, thankfully, I did not see. Nice and relaxed! I stumbled on some rums I’ve never tried before too and to my pleasant surprise the Alamea Exotic Infusions that are soon to be launched at the Berlin Bar Convent on october 10-11 by Daniele Dalla Pola were there as well. Read more about Alamea here in my review. They made some very nice cocktails with it and I really enjoyed having drinks with the Alamea.

There were cocktails made in most booths plus there was a little Baba au Rum pop-up booth there as well so one could choose to both sip rum and whiskey neat but also get to drink very nice cocktails which I appreciated!

Baba au Rum once again came among the 50 best bars – this time no.30! so again I say congrats to the Baba team! was it only a couple days ago I was there? someone fly me back please! but then again – they will have a pop up bar in Berlin in a few days….during the BCB (Bar Convent Berlin) and the German Rumfest and I`m luckily heading in that direction.

 

As for seminars I went to the  “Artisanal Cachacas, Authentic Sugarcane Expressions” by Jimmy Bertazzoli and “The Holy Grail of Martinique” sponsored by rhum St James held by Konstantinos Vasilakopoulos and then Sly Augustin’s (Trailer Happiness, London) seminar about Tiki where he did talk about the movement of tiki and where it’s going, specifically from a European view, something I’m also talking about in ny (upcoming) book. It was like hearing somebody else express my mind! The good guys from Trailer also did a guest bartending at Baba where they presented four tiki drinks, (the one with the jerk spice was amazing)

As for bars in the city, Athens have a very vibrant bar scene with worldclass bartenders and a hospitality next to none! they really are that good! but I already said that before…and not only do they make great cocktails in the bars but they also play very good music! You are guaranteed to have fun! also, the rooftop bars….the views are incredible.

A few great bars to mention are Baba au Rum, Speakeasy, Gin Joint, Clumsies, Kolokotroni 9, Bank Job, Rabbit Hole and the seasonal Mary Pickford by the water in Piraeus (awesome rooftop bar with a great view of the water and all the boats, plus great food, drinks and music), and then the rooftop bar at the hotel “A for Athens” with an unrivaled view and occasion to see the sunset over the city with a stunningly beautiful lit up Panthenon/Acropolis by night….a sight to see I promise!

This is a good start for the Athens rumfest which I believe has potential to grow nicely to something really great and I hope to see it happen again next year.

Enjoy the rest by pictures! I think they say more than my words!

The Rum and Whisky fest:

Entering the rum and whisky fest under the high pillars of the Zappeon building is quite impressive…

And then you`re met by a familiar sight…booths with booze….and bartenders serving cocktails. The Bayou rum

I first discovered in New Orleans during the Tales.

And like they say in Nola, let the good times roll…that`s what`s rum is all about! I know this was a rum and whisky festival but the rum girl I am, I`m focusing on the rum…

FINE Drinking Magazine, one of the best bar magazines today, get yours here.

Thanos Prunarus and FINE.

This was delicious! the Cuban Swizzle with Santiago de Cuba Greece rum and Alamea Pimento Liqueur which is with the other Alamea products launched now at the BCB in Berlin and to soon be sold online and shipped worldwide so all the tiki folks and everyone else will be able to get them.

And the Santiago Mulata, with Alamea Hawaiian Coffee Liqueur and the Santiago de Cuba Greece rum. As tasty as the Cuban Swizzle.

The Almaea Spiced, one of the very few spiced rums I found to be really good, that is – not too sweet – and with natural flavor and ingredients. And how about that tiki label? 🙂

Moving on to some Hampden rums…a favorite brand from Jamaica. RumFire needs no presentation and neither does the Hampden Gold. World famous high ester Jamaican rums at it´s best!

Similar to the RumFire with that typical vegetal grassy and “kerosene”- like flavor notes (but much less up in your face as the JWray), the Rum Bar overproof is a blend of three pot still unaged rums. The Worthy Park Estate have produced sugar and molasses since 1720. And then a new expression I haven`t seen before with the blue label, called Full Flavored White Rum. Good rums!

Cheers to overproof Jamaican rum!

And a daiquiri with it was in order.

Another rum brand I like, Compagnie de Indes, I wrote about a few of their expressions here.

A Mediterranian style Rum Old Fashioned with Rum Nation`s agricole rum from la Rèunion. Beautifully presented and very tasty.

Naga rum from Indonesia, which I think we will see some more of when a certain tiki bartender starts mixing with it 🙂 it had a bit of an interesting funk to it`s flavor which I think would be good in especially tiki drinks.

Another rum I had never tried before, Ron SumMum from the Dominican Republic.They come in four expressions – from left to right – the Reserva Especial, the Sauternes Cask Finish, the Cognac Cask Finish and the Malt Whiskey Finish.

And Japanese Whisky, Akashi. The version of Akashi produced for the European market using a mixture of Japanese and foreign-made malt and grain whisky.The Japanese version has malt whisky and molasses spirit, which would not be classed as ‘whisky’ in the EU.

Yaguara Cachaca, which is an artisanal Cachaca that comes in these three expressions. From left to right – the Organic and the most flavorful one, the Oro which is aged in three different woods and the Branca. The sweet part in this cachaca is not coming from any added sugar but from the oak. Brazil have at least 4000 brands of cachaca but only 2% is exported and unfortunately most of the exported cachacas are industrial so the best ones with the most flavors stays in Brazil. So most people gets to know just those and mostly in Caipirinhas which I think is a shame. (Nothing wrong with Caipirinhas, they are tasty but there is more)

I hope that will change! so we can see more artisanal cachacas outside of Brazil! it´s an interesting spirit and very much alike the rhum agricole but yet so different.

Havana Club.

The menu from Trailer Happiness at their pop up at Baba au Rum. I especially liked the flavor and spicy kick of the jerk spiced Voodoo Island, both frutiy, spicy and smoky.

The view from the stairs of Zappeon.

Athens:

The Acropolis is like a guardian of the city…The Parthenon and the other buildings were seriously damaged during the 1687 siege by the Venetians in the Morean War when gunpowder being stored in the Parthenon was hit by a cannonball and exploded…

The heaters at the rooftop cocktail bar at the “A for Athens” hotel looks like flying saucers that just landed….and the sun started to set…

A to go with the sunset…a matching colored drink called the “Polyphemus the Cyclops”.This drink was actually a sort of Zombie with a blend of Plantation OFTD, Chairman`s Reserve and Bacardi rums, spicy. The drink on the right side is called “Wear Sunscreen” and is a blend of Plantation Pineapple rum, Bacardi Gold, Don`s Mix, Coconut edible sunscreen (whatever that means…)

And the sun exploded in fiery colors…

Part of the menu at “A for Athens”

The Parthenon temple on the Acropolis, built in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power, seen from the rooftop bar at the “A for Athens” hotel cocktail bar. When you see it like that at night, it`s really magic, it adds a certain feel of the past to the present.

And of course it´s stunningly beautiful, pictures does not do it justice.

The Parthenon/Acropolis lit up to spread magic and beauty.

And the view in daylight from the rooftop restaurant at the Astor hotel. This is what you can call a breakfast with a view….

Zoomed in view of Mount Lycabettus/Λυκαβηττός, pronounced [likaviˈtos], a Cretaceous (the period between 145.5 and 65.5 million years ago) limestone hill in Athens, at 300 meters (908 feet) above sea level. Pine trees cover its base, and at its two peaks are the 19th century Chapel of St. George, a theatre, and a restaurant.

Rooftops of Athens.

Piraeus, seen from the rooftop bar Mary Pickford which we were lucky to get to on their last day before closing since it´s a seasonal summer bar that was created by the team of Baba au Rum along with Varoulko Seaside. Great view, great cocktails, great bartenders, fantastic seafood and great music sums up this place.

Seafood….at Mary Pickford. I don`t know what I was eating, I just know it was really amazing.

Incredibly tasty, a coffee Mai Tai at the Speakeasy.

Baba au Rum Cocktails.

And their Zombie…

And Baba Rum Sour with Barbancourt rum and a decent float of Cadenhead Cask Strength rum from the Bellevue distillery.

The beautiful National Gardens, located right behind the Zappeon Hall.

Impressive plants in the park. In the 1920s the park was renamed “National Garden”and became opened to the public and in honour of Queen Amalia of Greece, the entrance was moved to the 12 palms she planted and the street in front was renamed Queen Amalia Avenue. Since then the National Garden, is open to the public from sunrise to sunset.

Baba au Rums iconic carousel…just love this one!

And my favorite bar in Athens, Baba au Rum.

Pretty much sums it up! Cafe”Just Made 33″ a great place for breakfast.

Hello Athens and thank you! I will be back!

Rhumfest Paris 2016!

Rhumfest glass

Rum, Rhum and Ron…

The 2016 Rhumfest Paris took place on April 2, 3 & 4 th at Parc Floral, Paris. This event has become huge!!!

The venue was completely jam-packed with people! – So much rum….so much people!! on both days! and the day for the industry/professionals was on the the last day, the monday, and it would have been nice to have been there that day since the industry days are much less crowded, but unfortunately I had to travel back. Rhumfest Paris seem to me to have been completely sold out, around 8000 tickets were sold.

There were 119 participating brands and 40 exhibitors, plus 500 rums to try from as varied places as Thailand with Issan – agricole rum, and from La Rèunion island – Isautier, Savanna, Charette and Chatel….all very interesting rums! from Guyana one of my favorite brands, La Belle Cabresse and they also had various exotic rum punches and spices…

And represented for the first time at Rhumfest Paris – Tahiti! with the Mana`o rum – which – was a very interesting and tasty rhum agricole, it was surprisingly good for coming from such a small and far away place. What I especially liked with the Paris rumfest was that there were so much interesting and varied brands of rhum agricoles to try. I like to see at least as many agricoles as molasses based rums! and especially also smaller brands and here there was all of that in abundance.

But big brands were there too of course, among them Angostura who during a master class presented their new bottles for their classic rum range and had out for taste also their Amaro di Angostura.

Velier brought out their new Habitation Velier rums together with their Rhum Rhum and Clairin rums. I spent a lot of time at their booth…my favorites was the Habitation Velier Foursquare 2013 and then the Caroni 17!

Ekte Spirits from Denmark had some interesting rums to try as well, my favorite there was the demerara expressions.

But we started already on the thursday with the judging of the rums for the Rhumfest Paris Awards at La Rhumerie, a very nice French Caribbean rum bar and restaurant which I can recommend, especially for their rums and food! And the results of the 2016 Paris Rhumfest Awards is here.

A rumfest with lots of rum sampling needs some good fuel and there was some really tasty food available on food trucks with food from Martinique and Venezuela among others. I had spicy accras with extra hotsauce (of course) and other things, all very tasty! but the food thing that left me a memory is the Baba au Rhum dessert from La Rhumerie! it was so good…melted in your mouth….and soooo rum soaked!

There were masterclasses too and here is a link to them – http://livestream.com/midjdeal/events/5101484

During the nights there were a lot of things to do, you could sample a really fantastic range of rums at Mabel, among them I tried were the new El Dorado Cask Strength rums…and then Caronis…and at Maria Loca there was the one and only Daniele Dalla Pola doing his fantastic drinks during his “Arcane Jungle Night” with Arcane rum tiki drinks and great show! the drinks were so good!! (visiting his Nu Lounge Bar in Bologna is a must do!) and there was also a night of cocktails with Ron Botran Añejo!

Here is some shaking and pouring:

 

Also at Maria Loca we tried the new Maca rum which was very interesting and for being a spiced rum it was good! the intent is to create a spiced rum that differs from most and shows that spiced rums can be good and does not have to be cloingly sweet or unbalanced and overspiced.

Maca spiced rum logo

Then we have the Dirty Dick Tiki bar where the exotic drinks were always flowing….don`t go to Paris without going to Dirty Dick!

Late nights in Paris during Rhumfest week and Paris Rhum Week is a recipe for exhaustion….but a LOT of fun! 🙂 but also during the days there´s interesting things to do for a rum fanatic, for example visiting Christian de Montaguère, the rumshop of sorts! with more than 900 different rums, and also rum and cocktail books, french caribbean rum and cook books and even spices and exotic perfumes! (among them amazing tiare and frangipani perfumes and banana oils…) on 20 Rue de l’Abbé Grégoire, 75006 Paris, and here is their website. This shop is a paradise….

I think the big win with this rum festival was the incredible diversity of rums, especially (and naturally) all the different agricole rums!

Here is my usual picture parade… – enjoy, a little piece of  Rhumfest Paris!

TI ARR 1

If there was a prize for most beautiful stand, or booth, it would surely have gone to “Ti Arrangès de Cèd” which was a fantastic display of colors and beautiful “rhum arrangès” made by Cèdric Brément. I have a few of those at home, among them the banane-cacao, these are some tasty little treasures!

Ti arranges booth 6   Ti arranges booth 8

The new one with hibiscus is on the left. Aren`t they just beautiful?

Ti arranges booth 3    CDM TI MACADAMIA

Macadamia nuts and vanilla…

ananas victoria 2   ananas victoria

The star of the show…Ananans victoria!!!! this is the pineapple that is used for Plantation rums pineapple rum the Stiggin`s Fancy. This little pineapple grows on La Rèunion island outside of Africa. The one in the picure is a bit special though…it looks like a double pineapple and it had 6 or 7 shots! it was the wildest pineapple I ever seen! later I saw Daniele Dalla Pola walking around with it… I think he found himself a little “pineapple baby” 😀

Ti arranges booth ananas victoria    Ti arranges booth lime

Fresh, colorful, tasty and beautiful! pineapple, lime and rum!

manao    Ti Punch vieux Clement

Mana`o rhum!! this rhum agricole came all the way from Tahiti and it tasted very good! great sugarcane flavor. This is the first 100% organic rhum agricole produced in Tahiti. The name in the Tahitian language means “to think”, “to remember” and is a tribute to ancestral varieties of sugar cane. This is a purely local creation, produced from sugar cane from Taha’a, the first rhum agricole from French Polynesia. It was very interesting to try this! Read more here.

Rhum Clèment from Martinique had a little ti punch bar where you could get this very tasty little ti punch vieux!

Ekte Guyana 17    Ekte Guyana 23    Ekte Jamaica 12

Ekte Spirits sinle cask rums from Denmark. These are interesting! and they are all very good but are expensive.Then again, these are one of a kind rums, the number 2, the Jamaican 12 was made in 270 bottles only. The no 5, Guyana 17 years is 250 bottles and the 23 year old Guyana is 300 bottles made. Their website is here.

Ekte Spirits

And here is Ekte Spirits regular line of rums, I love the names! “Light & Dry”, “Pungent & Geeky”, “Spiced & Rich”, “Dark & Aged” and “Aged & Geeky”. These I tasted for the first time at the UK Rumfest last year. Also I like the fact that there `s a transparency concerning what the bottle contains, it´s stated on the website.

Angostura 1919 new package    Angostura new package 7

Angostura rums is changing “clothes” – but not rum! their classic rums are unchanged and they released the new package during a masterclass which you can watch online here and even though the website is in french the masterclasses are in english and also translated to french.

Velier signs2

When you see this sign…it works like a magnet…

Velier rums

Rows of pure goodness….Habitation Velier, Caronis, Rhum Rhum and Clairin rums!

HV Foursquare 2013    HV Forsyths 151

Now…we are talking! this Foursquare 2013 Barbados Pure Single Rum was the best of the rums I tried at the Rhumfest, it´s just hands down outstanding. The Forsyths WP 151 proof is another gem and this one would be perfect for tiki drinks!

HV Muller3177    HB Forsyths 502

More from Habitation Velier, the bottles looks really interesting I think and they contain really good rums!

Velier caroni 17    Velier Rhum Rhum frog labels

The 17 year Caroni is a wonder of explosive flavors! I think this lovely Caroni was my second best from the Rhumfest. Rhum Rhum Libération 2015 comes in a bottle with a very interesting and fun label and it comes in two strengths, go for the stronger one, the “version integrale” (the red label) This rhum was “liberated” from its cask in 2015 after six years of tropical ageing, Rhum Rhum Libération 2015 Full Proof is at 58.4° % ABV with no water added before bottling.

The Rhum Rhum brand was created by Luca Gargano of Velier in collaboration with Gianni Capovilla on the little island of Marie Galante which belongs to Guadeloupe.

Velier Clairin    Velier Rhum Rhum2

Clairin rhums from Haiti, these are very different from the rest and all very flavorful! Sajous is the “mildest” of the three followed by Vaval and then comes the horsekick, the Casimir, a rum that will kick your butt to the moon…..

Arcane Cane Crush    Issan rum

From two different parts of the world….Arcane rum comes from Mauritius and has some very nice and a bit different expressions while Issan hails from Thailand, and is a rhum agricole! it tastes good too!

La Belle Cabresse sign    CDM CANNE GRISE

More rhum agricole, La Belle Cabresse comes from French Guyana and is one of my old favorites, it has a flavor of it´s own, I think it´s the Guyana “terrorir”, it makes a nice ti punch! and so does the “Canne Grise” from Rhum Bielle, Marie Galante. Canne grise – grey cane is a type of sugarcane that originated from Barbados and that works very well on the small island of Marie Galante because it´s very resistant to drought. The rhum Canne Grise is very nice and fruity in flavor with an abv of 59%.

St James Excellence    Dormoy sirop de Canne

St James Cuvee Excellence is a very smooth and elegant rhum agricole which won a gold at the Paris Rhumfest Awards. St James rhums are always very very solid.

CDM PLANTATION RUMS    Pusser´s

Plantation rums….always present at any rumfest! And as usual you will also encounter Pusser´s rums at any rumfest! 🙂

CDM RUMPUNCH COCO MADRAS    CDM RUMPUNCH MON PEI

And here comes the rhum punches! I so love these! Punch Coco on the left from Guadeloupe and on the right are punches from french Guyana.

CDM RUMPUNCH CACAO 2     CDM RUMPUNCH EROTIKA

Punch Cacao and Punch Erotika and whatever is it is in that it probably works… 🙂 And here comes a few pictures of drinks, party, rum tasting, rum and fun!

DDP drink    DDP and Marc Battais2

Arcane rum booth, tiki drinks by Daniele Dalla Pola and Marc Battais! refreshing after all neat rum sampling. Sometimes you need to clean your palate with a tiki drink!

maria loca - sexy colada (5)     maria loca - sexy colada (8)

And when Daniele comes to town it sure gonna be a Sexy Coladas and a party! this particular Sexy Colada was served on top of  a glass that contained fresh coconut water….a wonderful treat.

At Rhumfest Daniyel and Ian    The international judges of rhumfest Paris awards

No rumfest anywhere without these guys….and the International judges of rhumfest Paris awards, but there needs to be more women! I was the only one! maybe there´ll be some more next year?

DD menu cover    DD Marrero daiquiri

Time for tiki drinks at Dirty Dick! here is the Marrero daiquiri which is the Dirty Dick hommage to Ramon “Monchito” Marrero Pèrez, the creator of the original Pina Colada. (cirka 1954) It´s a fresh, light and sharp drink and I love the presentation…

DD drink 5    DD meny drink

Lovely drink! the “Mystic Fist of Ku” the drink that gives you unlimited power! and I love the garnish!

DD tiki handles    DD painkiller

Tiki tap handles and beautiful Painkiller.

ED CASK STRENGTH LINE

From Dirty Dick to Mabel…time for some serious rum tasting with the new El Dorado cask strength rums!

ED CS PM 1999     ED CASK STRENGTH PM

The 1999 Port Morant is just an explosion of flavors, it was my fav of the three, but that said, the Versialles was in it´s own way almost equally good, or at least it was more interesting because the flavors kinda kept growing on you….I would like to spend more time with it, with both! the Enmore I didn`t care so much about, not that it was not good, it was, but to me, it lacked something special…these two were for me the winners of the range.

MABEL MENU    Mabel - rum menu 2

This is a great place to go if you wanna try rums, they have an amazing collection!

la rhumerie baba au rhum    la rhumerie wall lamp

Baba au Rhum, a treat that waited for me until after the last part of the judging and it was so worth waiting for! what a dessert! and sooooo rum soaked….with wonderful flavorful rum and it melted in my mouth! if I had the time I would have tried more of the foods at la Rhumerie but I will simply have to return.

la rhumerie art    la rhumerie painting cane cutter

Beautiful art and sculptures on the walls and in the room at la Rhumerie!

CDM ATLAS BOOK    CDM Neisson

Rum books and rums at Christian de Montaguère, the “Atlas du Rhum” I hope to see in english soon!!

CDM LA FAVORITE    Off to Paris Rhumfest!

Unbelievable rhum from la Favorite! and my old Mixoloseum bag for booze is still going strong!

Rumfest bracelet 2

And that was all! hope to see Rhumfest again the next year! Cheers!

UK Rumfest 2015!

Here comes the RUM

 

IMG_1628

This year was without doubt the best Rumfest ever! such great selection of rums and classes, tastings and good people. The venue, the ILEC Conference Centre is a good place for this and I don`t think it felt too crowded this year. With over 400 rums to try a rum enthusiast will be very busy these 2 days…

The varietes and types of rums was astonishing – everything from old favorites and big brands to new rums for this years UK Rumfest. Some of the old ones included St Nicholas Abbey, Foursquare, Real McCoy, Bristol Spirits, Don Q, Westernhall, St Aubin, Ron Diplomatico, Botran, Pusser`s, Angostura, Rum Fire and more….

And some of the new rums included Hamilton rums and Matugga and then there was a new rhum agricole tasting room manned by Benoit Bail and Jerry Gitany with several tastings of different agricole cane spirits from Martinique with four tastings a day (!) which was a great new addition for this year – as well as the House of Velier tasting room.

The House of Velier tasting room and session by Gianluca Gargano….who brought not only his educational and entertaining classes to the UK Rumfest but also an array of absolutely incredible rums – among them were four of the eight new upcoming Habitaion Velier pure single pot still rums, one among them in collaboration with Foursquare. You can see them all here.

More rhum agricoles and the presence of Velier is what i have been missing the previous years….now i`m very happy 🙂 and I hope the presence of Hamilton rums is an indication of those rums being sold in Europe soon….that said, there were of course a LOT of other interesting and exciting rums too! too many to get to try them all believe it or not.

The day before the rumfest which was on the saturday and sunday, was the Boutique Rumfest, an event for the trade with a great selection of rums on display as well and a chance for people in the industry to get together. And before the Boutique Rumfest was the Rum University with masterclasses by Tito Cordero from Ron Diplomatico. Richard Seale from Foursquare and Aroma Therapy.

And of course there were cocktail competitions, rum auctions and Caribbean rum cooking……..paired with the traditional carnival dancers and drummers.

I started my UK Rumfest adventure with a trip on the thursday night to the Tiki on Thames Rumfest Party at Mahiki which was very nice with a whole bunch of good rum friends there. Mahiki has some beautiful tiki decor and the drinks were good and the ambiance wonderful!

Mahiki 1

Rum University

Doesn`t matter how much you know about rum, or think you know…there´s always much much more to learn, and the Rum University is a good thing to attend! the rum school never ends…

This year there were three seminars, the first was with Tito Cordero about Ron Diplomatico which contained some very interesting information about how their rums are distilled, in an intricate way with many different stills and ways, I had no idea…and then of course we got to taste one of their rums., the Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva.

Ron Diplomatico grow their own sugarcane in Venezuela and use water from their own wells behind the distillery, also they propagate their own yeast, it´s one of the world´s top range rums.

Ron Diplomatico masterclass

The next seminar, the Aroma Therapy was all about mastering the art of olfaction that forms our sense of smell and the ability identificate aromas and smells. We got taste strips which over a matter of minutes changed their fragrances, and we wrote down what flavor notes we got from them before the true flavor notes of the strips was revealed, a very interesting experiment.

When you describe a flavor note, go from A-Z, for example “banana” is not just “banana” it can be so many things – from unripe or green to caramelized with raw sugar and one key thing to id aromas and smells is aroma recognition. Go into the depth of what you taste and smell when trying to describe it.

Aroma Academy

The last seminar was with Richard Seale debunking rum myths and revealing some hard facts and truths….also talking about rum cathegories and distillation. Anyone interested in rum should go to one of Richard`s seminars. One thing to learn is that fermentation is the making of the “wine” and the creation of flavor while distillation is the extraction of flavor, while maturation is the evolution of flavor.

He also made an interesting experiment, we got three glasses with clear spirit, two were industrial rums and one contained a vodka and he asked us to pick out which one was the vodka, and that sounds like an easy task but it wasn`t, me for one, was very unsure about which one was what and that my friends showed me how some industrial rums are made to be just like vodka…an eye opener for sure.

I don`t know which brands of rums they were but I know for sure that that is NOT the kind of rums I want to drink, I want rum to taste like rum and don`t want it to be industrial. Also there were two glasses, one with a pot still rum and one from a column to show us how the pot more accurately captured the raw material, the wine of the molasses and smelled like true rum.

Further Richard stated that all rums that contains sugar are not bad but all bad rums contains sugar….

Rum Univ RS

After the Rum Univeristy the Boutique Rumfest was on…and when you come out to that rum filled room you feel like children coming to a big playground full of candy and toys… 😀

There was a good selection of rum producers displaying their rums, the good thing about Boutique Rumfest is that they have time to really chat with you since it`s not so crowded. It`s also a place to get to try more odd rums that you usually don`t stumble on and one such rum and that had a very different flavor was Matugga rum which is made in the UK using ingredients from East Africa.

Another interesting rum was Nine Leaves from Japan, a rum that tastes better than I knew coming from a country which is known more for their whiskies than rum.

Also happy to see the Hamilton rums there, for the first time in Europe and I sampled the three I reviewed earlier this summer (Guyana 43%, Jamaica Pot Still Black and Saint Lucia Pot Still 7 years)  plus the Jamaican Pot Still Gold and the Saint Lucia Pot Still 9 years, and it was all good…..I especially liked the Saint Lucia 9.

Heavy rums with a lot of rich and pungent flavors.

Rumfest Day One

Rumfest

And finally, the big day! the Rumfest with everything that it entails….LOTS of rums to discover and try as well as old favorites to drink again. Caribbean food and music and lots of seminars and tastings! and the “global rum mafia” was well represented! It`s the people that makes it all up! old friemds and new friends, you meet them all the Rumfest!

House of Velier

First tasting seminar for me was House of Velier, what else? it`s some of the best rums in the world and I been a fan of Velier rums for many years. I followed the notes that was taped to the walls….eager to get to the rum sanctuary called “House of Velier Tasting Room”….hmm….those are some magic words…

The rest of the people coming after me could surf on the waves of drooling on the carpet…..but joke aside, it was very special.

Velier tasting room signs

Just follow the signs….

Luca Gargano, always so passionate about his rums presented a great session with some really incredible rums to sample, some which probably i`ll never get to try again. Luca took us through his history with rum from when he as a young brand ambassador for St James rhum in the 70s first went to Martinique………at the time he fell in love with rhum/rum and never looked back.

When he was 27 he purchased the company Velier and started to import several brands of rums and the rest is (very interesting) history until this day with Luca for the first time at the UK Rumfest presenting a few of his wonderful and unique rums.

I saw and also wrote about his Clairin presentation earleir at this year`s Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans and it was absolutely fabulous.

Velier tasting table

Among the rums he presented was the red magnum bottled “Caroni 2000 Millenium” (Extra Strong 120 proof) and which blew me away….and the fabulous “Basseterre -95” from Guadeloupe, four expressions of the House of Velier Single Pot Still rums, Uitvlught 1996, the new Caroni 17 year, the wonderful Clairins from Haiti, Rhum Rhum 2012 version integrale (higher proof) Caroni single cask 2000, Diamond 1999……..oh my the RUMS!

And very interesting was the new soon to be launched single pot still rums (looking forward to get me a bottle of that Foursquare – or if possible, all of them….)

HOV Foursquare Potstill

It was a tasting fest like no other! when you get to taste these kinds of rums, the word “rum” gets a whole new meaning.

Rhum Agricole from Martinique

After Velier I went to the Rhum Agricole tasting session, “Rhums of Martinique” by Benoit Bail and Jerry Gitany where we could sample different rhums agricoles, among them rhums from St James, Trois Rivières, La Mauny, Neisson, Rhum JM, HSE, Rhum Clemènt…all great rhums.

I`m very happy to see so much more rhum agricoles at the UK Rumfest, it has been called for for a long time….we need more rhum agricole at the (non french) rum events.

st James XO

A Baby has grown up!

Yep! there´s a “rum baby” that has grown up this year….namely St Nicholas Abbey`s newest rum which a little bit pre-maturely was launched last year….the 5 year old expression.

This year the baby has grown up and the flavors matured. It has the typical st Nicholas Abbey flavor, an explosion of flavors in other words, I think it tastes stronger and more complex than it was last year.

This rum was made from their white rum that was laid to rest creating their first estate produced 5 year old rum.. It`s their first rum distilled and aged entirely on the estate (the previous rums were made exclusively for the plantation by master Distiller Richard Seale from R.L Seale and Foursquare) and was ready in 2014.

The St Nicholas Abbey Rum 5 Year Old is a beautiful Rum that commemorates a beautiful story – not least, the first generation of Warren’s, Arthur and Henry, born into St. Nicholas Abbey 21st May 2014.

St Nicholas Abbey

It`s only to congratulate! it`s a fine fine range of rum expressions, on the very top of good rums in this world and if you would do a blind tasting you would easily be able to pick up any of the St Nicholas Abbey rums because they really do have a very distinct flavor.

And not only do they sell their beautiful rums in hand engraved botttles at their estate and distillery on Barbados, there´s all kinds of absolutely gorgeous products, one is their sugarcane syrup which was on display at the Rumfest. And it`s not your usual sugar syrup, this is made with their sugar cane “honey” (not the same as honey from the bees:-) which is fermented sugar cane juice and it has a deep deep flavor….same as their rums and no wonder, that`s what their rums are made from…

Foursquare

Foursquare special casks

Of course Foursquare had their Doorly`s there and also the Port Cask Finish which I also tried last year, but this year there were also a few new expressions (at least to me) that I had not tasted before, all special casks – a 2004 vintage at 61%, a Sinfadel Cask Blend at 43% and a 2013 Cognac Cask at 65%, they were all very good!

These are rums for sipping and enjoying slowly….good rums shall never be gulped down! you waste the precius (and often expensive) “juice” and miss out on the whole array of taste notes that is hidden in the “treasure chest”….

I wouldn`t use these in cocktails either, some rums are best sipped neat.

I like to see Foursquare coming up with more cask strength rums because I think they carry so much more flavor and punch, they are so much more interesting….

Rumfest Day Two

Same same but different….with other rums to try that I missed yesterday and it´s always such a good feeling to return to that happy rum filled big room on the sunday…. 🙂 and I did go back to the Velier tasting room since there were some additional other rums to try on the sunday and I don`t need to be asked twice if I want to return to a Velier tasting room….I could go to a Velier tasting room every day the whole year long.

I also went back to the Rhum agricole tasting room too to try what I missed yesterday….because yesterday there was so much chatting that I missed out on some of the rums when time did run out….

Followed the agricole tasting room was the Mauritius Gold Cocktail Competition and then the traditional Caribbean drummers and dancers which always closes down the Rumfest.

Bacardi cocktails

Another nice thing was the Bacardi “hut” with cool cocktails, same way as last year but another rum (Bacardi 8) and other cocktails. This time we got a wooden tray with three mini cocktail “glasses” on, one was a Bacardi 8 neat, one was an Old Fashioned and one was the “Old Cuban” cocktail.

Very tasty (especially the Old Cuban) and very neat! I really like how they present their products.

Passing by the Angostura both beautifully arranged with all their iconic rums and bitters I saw one of the coolest rum barrel mugs ever, if I could just get me one of these….I wish….if I had one of these mugs i`d make tiki drinks with Angostura 5 and 7 year old rums….how cool wouldn`t that be? what I love the most about it is how beautiful the barrel is and then the butterfly!!

Angostura berrel

Angostura rums

Beautiful Angostura rums

Here´s pictures of the Rumfest, I hope to see you there the next year dear readers of my blog 🙂 it`s an amazing event with so much to see and do!

Blackwell rum

Jamaican flavors with Blackwell rum! and cocktails….

Blackwell rum cocktails

The Golden Eye and Black Storm…followed by…

Rum Punch with JWray

…..some JWray overproof Rum Punches!

Ian and reporter

The man responsible for it all….Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell. Holding the special Rumfest Blend!

Ekte Rum DA

Ekte Rum from Copenhagen Rum Club! Dark and Aged…

Ekte Rum PG

Pungent and Geeky!

Jack

What would a rumfest be without pirates? and this particular pirate, “Jack” was everywhere…. 😀

Carnival time

Carnival dancing…..

Jack Iron

I see this rum every year…it`s a good one and to me the rumfest would be “empty” without this bottle around….

Overproof rums

More good overproofs….RumFire and RumBar.

Mezan rums

Another brand I like, Mezan rums, especially the Monymusk one.

Orchids

At the Don Q stand, Alexx Mouzouris did a fantastic job with both the cocktails and the decorations…..just like he did the last year. He knows how to make it stand out and look inviting and special! and he sure knows how to make super tasty cocktails.

Rum Nation Jamaica

Rum Nation…

Mauritius Rums

Rums from Mautitius….

Bristol rums

Bristol Classic….another rum i`m used to see at the UK Rumfest, this is a classic good rum brand with many different expressions and types of rums represented.

Real mcCoy

And Real McCoy! this is a very very good rum! made by Foursquare for Real McCoy.

limes

This picture is just to make you thirsty… 🙂

Pussers Painkiller

And when you`re thirsty….a Painkiller is never wrong….

Painkiller mug

Cheers and Up Spirits!

Pussers Gunpowder rum

Pusser`s Gunpowder Proof.

La Mauny

Rhum agricole, so different from molasses rums and equally good, this is what I love about rum, there´s so many different ones!

Shockas coconuts

In between rums or WITH rums, Shocka´s coconuts is a must have at the UK Rumfest. I filled mine with Mezan Monymusk rum….

Sirop JM

A very good sugarcane syrup, made on Martinique.

Trois Rivieres rhums

Trois Rivières….nice rhums.

HSE

HSE – Habitation Saint Etienne, Sherry Finish, a very good rhum agricole.

Velier Caroni 17

Here`s the new 17 year old Caroni by Velier, it´s very good….

Velier Caroni rums

The 2000 Caroni Millenium magnum bottle, an incredible rum! with the 17 year, these are some seriously good rums and if I could afford that big red magnum Caroni….but maybe one day.

Velier bottles on table

Velier rums…a whole table full of them for tasting….

Velier Caroni single cask 2000

Caroni, single Cask.

Velier Caroni single cask 2000 bottle

Aged in the tropics.

Velier Diamond 1999

More tropical aged demerara rums from Velier….

Velier HOV tasting table

This is rum prn for rum geeks…..

Velier Basseterre 95

Basseterre -95, a fantastic rum from Guadeloupe, I like this one very much.

Velier Liberation 2012 version integrale

Rhum Rhum 2012, the stronger version (version integrale) amazing rum!

Velier HOV Forsythe Pot still

Habitation Velier, Forsythe Pot Still 2005. On the back label it says “it`s the fruits of the first distillation in more than 50 years at Worthy Park in the double retort pot still built by Forsyth. Barrel proof without additives or colorings. It was the first rum to be produced at Worthy Park when the historic estate which had previously worked interruptedly since 1670, started distilling again.

Velier Uitvlugt 96 bottle

Uitvlugt 1996….another amazing rum.

Mahiki Aloha

Aloha time at Mahiki 🙂

Mahiki Pina Coladas

With tasty Pina Coladas.

The Ladies room at Mahiki

Giant clam shell to wash your hands in at the ladies room, Mahiki, beautiful!

So it started with a tiki bar and ended with another tiki bar….

After the Rumfest closed down there was the traditional after party at the Trailer Happiness!!! something I did NOT wanna miss! and there we got these huuuuuge Zombies in skull mugs…..and I don`t know what they did put in those but yes they totally zombied me out ….. 😀

Trailer After party

This was so not to be missed!  What a wonderful way to finish the Rumfest, with these huge superpotent Zombies! I hope I can be back again the next year!

Trailer Zombie

The Countdown is on for the UK Rumfest!

“Rum is more than a Spirit, it´s a Life Style”

Rum glass

Expect rum connoisseurs from all corners of the globe at the UK’s largest rum celebration taking place next month – The RumFest!

This time of the year there`s so much rum happenings in Europe and all are happening with just weeks in between them making it really hard to attend them all….and for me it boils down to once again attending the UK Rumfest.

I have covered previous UK Rumfests here and now there`ll be one more and I really looking forward to see my rum friends again and see what new and old rums will be there to try out and enjoy and not to mention all the seminars and other events that will keep you busy busy busy………

Here`s the press release:

The countdown begins for the ninth addition of the world’s premier rum festival taking place at ILEC Conference Centre, Earl’s Court on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th October 2015.

Thousands of rum lovers will be treated to blends from all corners of the globe. Whether a Ron Tiburon from Belize, a Le Dom Tom from France or a Nine Leaves blend from Japan, there are over 400 rare and exquisite rums to sip, savour and buy across the two days. Following the success of last year, the Golden Tot tokens return where visitors can pick up a token for just £5 opening the doors to rum’s elite allowing the more serious rum enthusiast to try rums that usually retail for over £200 a bottle.

Away from the tasting shacks and immersive pop-ups will be a series of enriching and tantalising seminars, masterclasses and workshops including the not-to-be missed Cachaca Tasting mapping out its rich history in Brazil and flavours; an introductory level aroma masterclasses; chocolate and rum pairing; a fascinating look at the history of rum; and a series of one-to-one tastings.

Top blenders, mixologists and distillers will also be on hand to teach ticket holders the art of cocktail making as well as more ways to enjoy their favourite rums.

Whilst one of the most influential and awarded personalities in the rum world, the legendary Tito Cordero, Diplomatico’s Master Blender, will take visitors on a journey through the foothills of the Andes.

Worlds-largest-rum-tasting

The RumFest’s famous food offering will deliver mouth watering cuisine from exotic rum making locations and temperatures are set to rise with live stage demos showcasing rum pairings, cooking demos, live cocktail competitions and more. Vanessa Bolosier creator Creole Kitchen is model turned award-winning chef and will be bringing years of inherited stories and recipes to RumFest’s Main Stage.

Expect big flavours and plenty of spice from a lady with innate Caribbean cuisine knowledge. Contemporary Caribbean cook Shivi Ramoutar will take over Sunday’s Main Stage presenting her culinary mission to twist these classic caribbean dishes and ingredients from her childhood into her own vibrant, fresh and easy-to-make delights.

Other highlights for 2015 include the return of RumFest’s Auction in partnership with Christie’s auction house. A must see for this year, RumFest is hoping to smash last year’s grand total where over 20 precious and rare rum were sold off for charity.

Carnival Hour rounds off the RumFest experience each day in the ultimate party finale, featuring live bands and dancers that embrace the fun and social spirit of rum.

Sugarcane-Mount-Gay-stand

This year for the first time in history The Rum Experience is teaming up with leading bars, chefs, distillers, brands and rum lovers to curate a week long series of events that will take over the capital for the inauguralThe Rum Experience Week. Each event will be hosted by a different brand or partner and will show attendees new ways to experience rum, including rum pairings with cigars and chocolate, rum infused cooking classes and exclusive menus, a Thames Tiki rum cruise and interactive tastings.

The fitting finale to the week long-long events is of course The RumFest. Tickets to select events are available now and more events will be announced soon with full information on the website – rumexperienceweek.com or fromrumfest.co.uk.

RumFest Founder and Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell is the leading name in rum. Dedicating his life to promoting rum and rum culture around the world, over the years Burrell has been recognised with a number of industry awards as well as regularly appearing as a rum expert at events and on television shows like Sunday Brunch, the Alan Titchmarsh Show and more.

Speaking about the return of RumFest, Burrell says, “We’ve refined RumFest this year into something very special. We’ll be taking rum lovers on the UK’s biggest celebration of rum yet, showing them the fun side of the culture, while at the same time giving an insight into the spirit so they can take home what they’ve learnt, armed with a better understanding of the spirit.

And with this we introduce the first ever Rum Experience Week which allows rum and spirit lovers to rejoice in the marvels of the category in a entire week-long celebration.

We look forward to seeing you there.”

rum-experience-no-date

The RumFest takes place in London at the ILEC, 17th to 18th October 2015. Standard day tickets are now on sale at £49.95, which includes access to all areas of the the event and tastings from all exhibitors. VIP tickets are on sale from £75 and allow for early access of one hour ahead of standard ticket buyers along with a two course Caribbean lunch and RumFest goodie bag.

Golden Tot Tokens are £5 each and allow for additional access to the more premium rums on offer. One token can be exchanged for rum retailing £80 – £100 and more expensive rums will be available for additional tokens. Tickets to the new private rum tastings will be announced soon. For full information on RumFest and to buy tickets head to rumfest.co.uk.

The RumFest
Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th October 2015
London’s ILEC, Earl’s Court
rumfest.co.uk

Global Rum Ambassador to Stage The World`s Largest Rum Tasting!

GLOBAL RUM AMBASSADOR TO STAGE THE WORLD’S LARGEST RUM TASTING AS PRECURSOR TO EIGHTH ANNUAL RUMFEST

Very limited spaces available to the Guiness World Record attempt and tickets available now on a first come first serve basis

Thursday 9th October 2014, 
London’s ILEC, Earl’s Court

Tickets at £10, now on sale from rumfest.co.uk

IAN BURRELL

Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell is inviting rum fans to become official record breakers as he bids to take the title of ‘World’s Largest Rum Tasting’ at what is set to be the biggest rum tasting experience ever to be staged.

Taking place on Thursday 9th October as a precursor to the eighth annual The RumFest, rum enthusiasts will be treated to a tasting experience at London’s ILEC Conference Centre, Earl’s Court where they will be able to sample and discover rums from six prestigious rum brands.

These brands have been hand-picked by Burrell especially for the event and reflect the diversity of blends, taste and style on offer across the rum category and will be presented by some of the industry’s leading names.

From Appleton’s Jamaican-style Rum presented by esteemed Master Blender Joy Spence, to a Rum which bring a bit of history to the evening with Pusser’s Navy Rum presented by Peter Thornton and George Freegard, to Trinidadian-style Angostura presented by Master Distiller John  Georges, this will be a unique and one-off evening for rum lovers.

Officially adjudicated by a Guinness World Records representative and hosted by Ian Burrell, tickets are available to buy now for only £10 and tables of 10 can be pre-booked for groups, all available with more information on all four days of events from The RumFest website.

RUM-EXPERIENCE-1

For the first time in history, RumFest invites guests to become part of a record-breaking attempt to host the world’s largest rum tasting, with hundreds of rum enthusiasts coming together to sample six esteemed rums from across the globe.

Representing Jamaica, Appleton’s Rum will be sipped and savoured with commentary from revered Master Blender, Joy Spence, whilst the Spanish style of rum, Don Q will be sipped and savoured with a yet to be announced speaker.

For a historical twist Pusser’s Navy Rum will be presented by George Freegard and Peter Thornton. Angostura will bring a taste of Trinidad to the evening hosted by Master Distiller John Georges and the delights of Cuban’s classic Havana Club will be a part of the World Record Attempt with one final rum to be announced in the coming weeks.

Doors will open at 5pm where guests will be greeted with a welcome speech from Global Rum Ambassador and RumFest founder Ian Burrell, followed by an introduction to the rules and regulations of the Guinness World Records.

From 6.30pm the world record attempt will begin as guests taste the six rums from some of the world’s most revered rum distilleries followed by an audience Q&A and the presentation of the Guinness World Records certificate.

Global Rum Ambassador and RumFest Founder Ian Burrell comments, “The possibility of hosting the World’s Largest Rum Tasting is incredibly exciting and we cannot wait to share the experience with so many rum lovers and it will be the perfect way to kick off what will be four days of superb rum celebrations.

Rum is a spirit loved by many and to have the chance to taste six esteemed rums hosted by their top master blenders, ambassadors and distillers is an honour and a privilege. I cannot wait to share it with you all!”

The RumFest takes place in London at the ILEC on Friday 10th for press and trade and Saturday 11th to Sunday 12th October 2014 for trade and consumers. Standard tickets are now on sale at £49.95 for Saturday and Sunday, which include access to all areas of the the event and single measure tastings from the majority of exhibitors.

The brand new Golden Tot Tokens are £5 each and allow for additional access to the more premium rums on offer. One token can be exchanged for rum retailing £80 – £100 and more expensive rums will be available for additional tokens. For full information please visit the RumFest website.

The Rum Experience is a concept created by Global Rum Ambassador and the Founder of UK RumFest, Ian Burrell. Celebrating the resurgence of rum and rum culture around the world, The Rum Experience takes a contemporary approach to promoting the rum and sugarcane industries and Caribbean culture through a series of unique events, festival, rum tastings, pop-up experiences, food pairings and rum battles.

The RumFest

10th-12th October 2014, ILEC Conference Centre
Ibis London Earls Court
47 Lillie Road
London SW6 1UD