Day three of three of London’s RumFest Weekend.
Sunday is the quieter of the main days at RumFest and so gives one the chance to explore the rum stands and chat a bit longer with the rum producers, distillers and promoters.
First up was a visit to the Bacardi tent. Let me be honest here…I am no fan of Bacardi but I do always admire/appreciate the efforts they go to at RumFest, having one of the more interesting stands. This year, they were promoting their restaurant/bar chain Revolucion de Cuba and to do so, they were creating a bit of a Cuban party, for which punters had the dubious honour of queuing up for. Upon entering the tent, visitors were warmly greeted by the bar staff, given a bag of goodies and a sickly-sweet sugary cocktail was handed over. What proceeded was quite comical…a DJ with some loud, latin music and more sugary sweet cocktails – I didn’t see much sign of any actual rum, though. I ducked out of it before the end, deciding that I would rather spend my time at the proper rum stands. Sorry guys!
I think it was very much a case of people seeing a queue to go into the tent without knowing what it was and as a result, it generated more and more interest, just because people saw the queue and thought well if they are all waiting, it must be good, so I will wait, too. It did nothing to improve my image of Bacardi, if anything, it just reinforced it!
Having escaped from my Bacardi nightmare, I swiftly moved onto something far more tasty…Pusser’s Rum. I enjoyed a great tasting of their range…the 15yo was my personal favourite. I have since purchased a bottle to do a proper review.
Next up for me was a new name to the rum world for me…Bayou rum.
From Louisiana and made with 100% pot still rums, they source all of their ingredients locally. This was really tasty rum – it is always great to find something new that is crafted correctly.
From USA to Fiji…..Brands yet to have any distribution in the UK, hailing from the South Pacific Distillery (SPD), Bati and Ratu rums. The marketing spiel includes reference to filtering through coconut carbon…..Hmmmmm! The rums are a mix of pot and column stills.
One of the highlights of the Weekend for me as a lover of Appleton rums was the chance to enjoy a tasting of the 12yo (rare blend) and 21yo in the company of MC Ian Burrell and Appleton Master Blender and rum-legend, Joy Spence. I asked her about what products are coming next and was told to start saving now as there will be a new edition “next year” that will cost around $250 that will be “amazing, including fantastic packaging.” I cannot wait for that!
I had an interesting visit to the Ron Centenario stand. The friendly and helpful chap was showing off their latest sugar bomb…the new 30 year old. I questioned him on the ageing, he shrugged and said it’s Solera i.e. there could be 1% of the rum that is actually 30 years old, but they still call it a 30 year old rum. This is where the rum world has problems and where we need to inform drinkers about what is actually in their drinks and the lies on labels. When I further questioned the added sugars… again, another shrug and comments about it’s what people like and enjoy (it isn’t). Finally, I queried the price…the 30yo is £130+ per bottle. I quoted several other rums that were a fraction of the price (Appleton 12yo and Foursquare Port Cask @ £30 or so each, for example). He mentioned high costs in Costa Rica, where Centenario hails from, but that is it. The irony of it is that the 30 year old Ron Centenario actually tastes really nice, but it is more like a liquor or dessert rather than a rum and to be honest, I would choose four bottles of Appleton 12yo or Foursquare Port Cask over one Centenario 30 year old any time.
My next stand is the antithesis of Ron Centenario…..the Velier stand!
I had a quick chat with Luca Gargano, before being told by him to just help myself and pour whichever expressions I wish to try. That is an offer, no rum drinker can refuse and so I duly obliged and tried several scrumptious high proof and cask strength rums, all of which are genuine age statements with no additives (Ron Centenario, take note of how real rum is made and sold). Furthermore the labels show everything you need to know about the rums. Amongst others, I tried a stonking 67%, 6 year old Hampden, a 2 year 64% Foursquare, a 59% Port Mourant and several mind-blowing (quite literally) Caronis including an amazing 70.1% ABV from 1996. Incredible!
Onto an interesting visit to Plantation rums. It is always interesting to find out what is new at Plantation and when I mentioned my 18 bottles of Stiggins Fancy (Pineapple) Rum that I have sitting at home, it tweaked their interest in me, too!!! Amongst the regular tasting I tried a very good St. Lucian rum but inevitably, the highlight was having a sneak advance tasting of the O.F.T.D (Old Fashioned Traditional Dark) or Oh F*** That’s Delicious as it is also affectionately known.
My next visit was to an established UK brand selling decent rum…The Duppy Share. For those that do not know, a Duppy is a malevolent Jamaican spirit that visits during the night stealing its “share” of your rum from the barrel, the equivalent of the Angel’s share in the whisk(e)y world. So, The Duppy Share is a clever brand name for rum hailing from Jamaica and Barbados. Specifically, 3yo Worthy Park (Jamaica) and 5yo Foursquare (Barbados) rums are in this tasty blend. At around £25-30 / bottle, pretty good value, too.
Final tasting of the day was with Angostura. I am familiar with their regular editions so was seeking something new. They duly obliged with a new expression due out soon, the “1787” aged for 15 years and presented in the new style of Angostura bottles.
And with that tasting, I heard the familiar beats of the closing carnival finale, which heralds the end of each RumFest. Another year of great tastings, meeting some amazing people and generally having a stunning time. Roll on 2017’s event!!!