February 25th, my first experience of Lucy Douglas’s travelling rum festivals.
I left home at 9.30am and headed to the station – obviously I do not drive to a rum festival. To be honest, not a great start to the day, as my train is replaced by a coach… For the record I hate coaches! So things can only get better. Except initially they do not…The coach went as slow as a coach can go and it missed the connecting train in Leicester, which lead to an additional 45 minute wait at Leicester station for my train to Nottingham. But, travel troubles aside, I arrived a little later than planned at 13:30, found Lucy for a chat (first time we had actually met) and a quick discussion regarding my rum talks and what I need etc. Cue a quick dash to Lucy’s rum store room, ironically marked “Prayer Room” on the door. I can see the logic in that…pray for rum, and it shall be delivered.
I did not have a chance to explore the Rum Festival at this point, I concentrated solely on preparing for my rum talk, aimed at focusing on knowing what is in a bottle of rum and determining its value (amongst other things). The talk went superbly and it was fantastic to hear the reaction and sheer astonishment when I highlighted a certain “Premium” rum being no more than merely flavoured vodka, created at an industrial ethanol plant and demonstrated its sugary nature with a simple hydrometer test. By comparison, we also discussed and tasted Ron Santa Teresa 1796, highlighting that not all multi-column rums are entirely bad (ST1796 contains pot still also). Finishing the tasting with Appleton 12yo went down very well. The rums were chosen in part because they were not specifically available for tasting at the rest of the festival.
So, my first talk over and it’s time to circulate and try some rums. I bumped into a familiar face, Peter Holland, helping out on one of the stands offering tastings of the Angostura, Pusser’s and Botran range of rums as well as the Japanese Ryoma Rum.
I enjoyed a few Angostura, Ryoma and Pusser’s tastings as well as stocking up on a couple of Real Fruit Purées. Playing on the stage was a great latin band and the whole area had the aroma of exotic, spicy food coming from the “Street Vendors.”
Here are a few more photos of some of the stands and bars dispensing rum tastings.
After an all-too short break between the afternoon and evening session and everything was reset and ready for an evening of fun.
My evening talk was scheduled early on. A different type of audience but still very keen to listen, learn and taste some different rums. Something very rewarding that I have found out since coming home is that one of the audience has ordered himself some good quality rum (Mount Gay Black Barrel) and his own hydrometer to test rums himself at home. The message about knowing what you drink and enjoying real rum is spreading! #GuardiansofRum
I encountered some new rums and rum friends, which is always a great thing…..
Beach Craft Rum has the unique or dubious honour of being the only rum brand not to actually be exhibiting any rum at a rum festival. Lara Beach represented the new craft rum, explaining that the rum is not quite ready for sale and will hope to have some available at one of the future Rum Festivals. One to look forward to…..
The Manchester Still is a new scientifically created rum from the only distillery in Manchester. They claim their rum is as pure as can be!
There were lots of other familiar and very tasty rums on offer. Chariman’s Reserve, Mount Gay and Mezan most notably. Also had some good chats with Cloven Hoof and Morant Bay. Despite my dislike of spiced “rum” it is good to see the overall profile of rum being raised, albeit I would prefer to see these guys drop the sugar levels down to zero!
I had a great chat with Chris Ames from ID Brands about Plantation Rums and bought a very tasty Haito XO. Although it has some added sugar, it is a very tasty rum.
But all too soon, it was time to depart and so back to Nottingham station for the last train home. Unfortunately, the day ended where it had started…with a bus replacing the train home. Upon arrival at Leicester at 23:45, a bus was due to depart at 0:01. By 0:25, no bus had arrived and so the station staff arranged for a taxi to take me back home. Not too bad, except, I was with the world’s slowest driver piddling along at barely 55mph on a deserted M1 between 1 and 2am! I finally got home around 2:30, absolutely knackered, but smiling after having enjoyed a great time at the Rum Festival and some very well received rum chats.
I will be attending on Saturday March 11th for more rum tastings and talks. Come and say “Hello!”
Here are some pictures from Friday’s Nottingham Rum Festival.