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Floridita Rum Room Launch Party Oct 22

Floridita Rare Rum ClubA night dedicated to the appreciation of Rum.
This October Pusser’s Rum will be celebrating Trafalgar day with Floridita by opening the 3 year old and decanting the 15 year old at the Launch of Floridita’s Brand New “Rare Rum Club”

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New Year – New Rum… Jan 22

Have a Spirited 2012

A little bit late I know, but they do say it’s fashionable to be late to the party, so in that spirit, here’s to a fantastic 2012 and let’s hope it continues to bring good fortune to fine rums and everyone who enjoys the pirate spirit.

From what I saw and heard last year, the Rum category had a great year, with more brand awareness, the introduction of many great new rums to the UK (including but not limited to:  Banks 5 Island Rum; Chairman’s Reserve The Forgotten Casks; Plantation Guatemala Gran Añejo; Plantation Single Cask Limited Edition Rums; Ron de Jeremy and St Lucia Distilleries 1931) and a continued rise in the number of rum clubs and rum tastings. Although I have no statistics to back up the aforementioned claims, I would say that the sheer number of people attending RumFest 2011 could be taken as testament enough proof, as it was certainly busier than the year before, as I have been led to believe it has been each year before it.

2011 was also an interesting year for me, with my first true explorations of the appreciation of this much misunderstood category of spirit. Not only did I gain more knowledge about the history of rum, the Caribbean and the impact that sugar cane production had on the world at large, but in attending the shows, tastings and rum clubs I had the pleasure of making new friends and meeting lots of interesting and fun people. I can only hope that 2012 allows me to continue expanding my knowledge and allowing me to share it with you, my readers.

Bacardi 150 Years

At the very least I know that with 2012 being the 150th anniversary of Bacardi, that there should be plenty of opportunity to learn more about one of the most influential brands of Rum. The 4th February will see Bacardi celebrating 150 years since Don Facundo Bacardí Massó purchased a small distillery and the rest as they say is history. As such Bacardi have just announced a series of exclusive worldwide birthday parties and innovations, including the opportunity win BACARDI–branded apparel in social media promotions, a tie-in with National Geographic Channel’s “Ultimate Factories” and a number of new and commemorative products including the $2000 crystal decanter Ron BACARDÍ de Maestros de Ron, Vintage, MMXII®. As it’s fair to say that most people I know don’t have a spare $2000 to spend on what is likely to be an excellent bottle of rum, maybe I’ll see if I can persuade Floridita‘s Richard Woods and Bacardi’s UK Ambassador Shervene Shahbazkhani to put a bottle in for a future Rare Rum Club. Somehow I doubt it, but with nothing ventured, nothing gained, what have I got to lose…

Talking of London’s Rum Clubs, Trailer Happiness kicked of the New Year with the London Rum Club playing host to Banks Rum on the 9th January. More details will be in a soon to be released post, but suffice to say the night was a great success and if the rest of this year’s London Rum Clubs are anything like this one, then it should be a great year to come. Floridita’s Rare Rum Club has also announced its first event of the year, which is due to take place on the 23rd February, although no specific rum has been stated, it should be an evening well worth the visit. And working on the principle that three’s a charm, even Cottons Rhum Shack has thrown its stirrer into the mix, announcing their intention of adding a Cottons new Rum Club to their 2012 agenda.

This weekend has also seen the start of Selfridges Rum Week, in their London store, following in the footsteps of similar events in their Birmingham and Manchester stores, thios past week gone. Offering shoppers the chance to “Get warm in the winter with Rum at Selfridges London”, every day sees a series of tasting workshops in the ground floor Wine Shop. Please see the Selfridges website for further details.

Also kicking off this week is the first of a number of Master Classes at The Grosvenor Hotel’s Réunion Bar. First up will be Santa Teresa’s brand ambassador Jim Wrigley who will be taking guests through a discovery of rum and chocolate. A week later, Stefanie Holt and Paul McFadyen, the respective brand ambassadors for El Dorado and Plantation Rum’s will combine forces to combat seafaring ne’er do wells to talk about their great rums. While there are currently no further Rum Master Classes lined up at the moment, this is a great start and may be an indication of a bar for rum lovers to keep an unpatched eye on.

Lastly, a few dates for the calendar as this year sees the return of many of the Drink / Rum shows of 2011:

(While every effort has been made to confirm these dates, please check on the respective websites for confirmation before making any sort of booking relating to the event.)

All in all, I think 2012 is shaping up to be a great year, now let’s just see if I can also pull my finger out and get on with all those rum reviews that I keep promising myself that I’ll write, as well as playing catch up with a couple of the round-ups from last year. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who’s helped me out in the past year but also to you, the readers who keep coming back and have given me such positive feedback.

Here’s to a great 2012 – Salute!

Floridita Rare Rum Club – Mount Gay Rum Nov 12

Floridita Rare Rum ClubDespite the complete lack of a tropical climate, it’s clear that London has an important role in the international Rum scene; what with it playing host to RumFest every year; having several great rum bars and during 2011, it’s been home to 3 different Rum Clubs.

For several years now, Notting Hill’s Trailer Happiness has been the home to the London Rum Club and while it may not always have been as regular a fixture on the calendar as it should have been, for several months now it has without fail taken place every 1st Monday of the month. It is well supported by the rum trade, the bar and it’s staff and of course the regular Rum Club enthusiasts.

Then this July we found a new Rum Club raisingMount Gay 1703 Rum Tasting its head above the parapet, at the City of London’s Tiki bar: Kanaloa. However, despite a promising start, it appears that it wasn’t mean to be. Maybe it was the format of “once every two weeks” being too much for London’s Rum Aficionado’s; maybe it was slightly sporadic nature of which evening of the week it took place on; maybe it didn’t help that on the night it managed to clash with the London Rum Club, London also happened to go up in flames with the riots this summer or maybe it was just a bit too similar to the London Rum Club.

Maybe it was all of those reasons or none of them, but what is fair to say is that following the departure of then Head Bar Manager – Stuart Hudson, priorities at the bar appeared to change. Now with Tiki Bar Tender Jamie Kimber due to depart for Lab Bar this weekend, I think it’s fair to say that August’s Kanaloa Rum Club featuring Ron Diplomático was the last Rum Club to be held at this great Tiki bar and that it’s unlikely that we’ll see another Rum Club held at Kanaloa anytime soon.

What then of London’s third Rum Club. One that I heard about as a whispered rumour. A Rum Club mentioned in quite conversations, as it was thought to be so rare and so limited in available places that those few who knew about it, were concerned that by telling too many people about it, that they Old Rum at Floriditathemselves would miss out. One that dared to be a bit different and maybe a little bit special. Special enough that even I was concerned that by writing about it, I’d either miss out on a place or maybe it would become too crowded and change the atmosphere.

So enter the Floridita Rare Rum Club, held on the last Thursday of each month. The brain-child of the bar’s Head Bar Manager, Richard Woods. Generally recognised as one of the more influential people in the Rum trade and having one of the largest collections of rare rums in the world, it’s fair to say that Richard knows and loves his Rum.

Although it started at the end of March this year, it wasn’t until July that I even heard about it. By then they had already played host to Havana Club and their Maximo Rum. The Rare Rum Club was launched with a promise that reads:

Floridita’s Rare Rum Club is designed to encourage the tasting of Premium and unfamiliar Rums through a drinks forum, bringing some of the finest enthusiasts, imbibers, blenders, distillers and experts from around the World taking part in Seminars.

And as far as I’m concerned, it has so far succeded. Since attending my first Rare Rum Club in July I’ve tried Plantation Guadeloupe Old Reserve 1998 Rum, El Dorado 25 Year Old Rum, Mount Gay Rum 1703 Old Cask Selection and on the one evening that I couldn’t make it, they had Bacardi Reserva Limitada. Each of these is clearly rare and special and some of them have been extremely premium.

Although the format has changed slightly since its inception, the principal of enjoying rare and premium rums hasn’t. Having changed to being a paid for event, the evening now includes a sharing platter of food for the group, a rum cocktail each, access to the bar’s live music and of course the tasting. Currently, numbers are somewhat more intimate than say the London Rum Club and in fact they always be will limited. But as Richard has pointed out, this is how he wants the evening to be, as it gives everyone who attends the chance to have a proper taste of these great rums.Mount Gay 1703

So following a Daiquiri (or two) and some great tapas, the evening of Thursday 27th October 2011 found a small group of us sitting down with Richard to talk about and taste the contents of a bottle of Mount Gay Rum 1703 Old Cask Selection.

Everything about this Bajan rum shouts quality, from the simple elegance of the bottle design to the weight and feel of the bottle stop. Of course the packaging is just that, so what of the contents?

Well, 1703 Old Cask Selection is a Blend of aged Mount Gay Rum from the reserves of the Master Blender. These rums would have been fermented in wooden vats for 72 hours and then distilled in either a double distilled pot still or a copper Coffey column still, before being aged in ex American whiskey barrels.

During the aging process, the Master Blender will decide that some barrels are just right, for setting aside and they’ll be aged for a longer-than-normal period of time. With these older barrels, they can then marry the rum with other younger or older rums to create specific blends or to help balance the expected taste of their normal production rums, such as the Eclipse or the Extra Old. And it is from these older barrels that the blend of pot and column, aged between 10 and 30 years old, that 1703 Old Cask Selection comes from. Like the younger Mount Gay Rum Extra Old it is bottled at a slightly higher 43% ABV / 86 Proof.

It is a rich and complex rum, with notes of spiced fruits, banana, caramel and leather. Of course with a blend of rums up to 30 years old, it also has a richness of oak, but not so overpowering that it would detract from the enjoyment and taste. It has a warm, smooth start, with a slightly spicy finish and is every bit the luxurious expression of quality rum from Barbados.

Bacardi Havana ClubAn unexpected finish to the evening off came about when Richard then introduced us to another special rum from his collection. One that due to international trade mark issues you will generally not see outside of Miami. Following the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the Havana Club distillery and company was nationalized and as such its original creator, José Arechabala, left Cuba and headed to the United States, taking the original recipe for Havana Club Rum with him.

Today that recipe is owned by Bacardi and is currently produced for the US market only, in Puerto Rico, as Havana Club Brand. Distinctly different from either Bacardi Superior or todays Cuban Havana Club Añejo Blanco, this is an excellent pouring rum that among many things, makes for a great Daiquiri.

Expect to find a white rum, with enough complexity to make it enjoyable to sip, while remaining light enough to mix in many a cocktail. If you are lucky enough to spot a bottle of this on your travels, I highly recommend you pick one up.

So what next for the Rare Rum Club, well I’ve been advised by Richard that there won’t be any more Rare Rum Club’s held this year as the end of November will be too busy for Floridita, with Christmas bookings and that the last Thursday of December may well find the bar closed for the evening. So all being well, the Rare Rum Club will be back at the end of January, bringing in the new year with another special rum. More news on that as and when it’s available.

So my thanks to Richard and the bar team at Floridita for continuing to offer another great event on the London Rum scene and I look forward to many more. Also expect to see write ups in the future for both the El Dorado 25 Year Old and the Plantation Guadeloupe Old Reserve 1998 Rum.

For those interested in learning more about the Rare Rum Club, please either visit the Floridita Website or email Hannah Sakellariou at for more details.