The Miami Rum Renaissance Festival at the Deauville Resort concluded last evening with a 6:45 p.m. "last call", prompting event goers to rush to their favorite rum booth for one last mojito or shot of the elixir favored by both pirates and yachtsmen.
The true highlight of the festival is the introduction of new and rare rums to Miami spirits aficionados. Both rums from brand new distilleries and products from boutique distilleries from the Caribbean and beyond were sampled at the festival. We've put together a list of the best rums you've yet to drink.
While cachaca may not be a true rum to Americans, it is the official cane sugar alcohol of Brazil -- by presidential decree! This means that true cachaca can only be produced in the country that brings us Carnival and tiny bikinis. Poesia is a non-blended cachaca, aged in native cariniana tree barrels ($48-60 retail).
Clarke's Court rum comes from the tiny spice island of Grenada. The small family-run distillery makes Grenada's most popular rums, but the only way to get Clarke's Court was to visit the country and bring some home -- until now. Clarke's Court will be introduced to Miami within the next few months, starting with the 80 proof Old Grog ($19.99). Soon to follow is the light rum, filled with distinct herbal notes ($12.50).
Island Records founder Chris Blackwell has gotten into the rum business. If you're surprised, maybe we should tell you that Blackwell's family has been in the Jamaican rum game for decades under the Wray & Nephew brand. Blackwell discovered his secret family recipe for a dark pot stilled rum and decided to bring new life into the family business. It's been said the rum caught the eye of Charlie Sheen, who wants the libation featured on his new Anger Management show. Sounds like an endorsement to us ($30).
The best rums from around the world are brought to (of all places) Scotland by an Italian company. Samaroli curates small batch rums, marketing them in limited edition bottles, each numbered in a series. Take, for example the Caribbean 2003, with origins in Cuba, before being aged in whiskey casks, or the Rhum Guadeloupe, a rich, smooth sipping rum. These bottles run from $100-200, but for the serious rum enthusiast, they're a must have.
Rum made in Tennessee? Sounds a little crazy now, but back in colonial days, when sugarcane was grown in abundance throughout the south, there were dozens of rum distilleries in the United States. Instead of blackstrap, Prichards uses only table grade "grade A fancy" molasses in their distilling process. The rum is aged three to five years in Jack Daniels barrels, giving this rum a distinct bourbon flavor ($39.99).
The finest rums from Barbados and Guyana are aged 10 years in American oak, then shipped to Spain, where they're aged an additional five years in sherry oak casks to make Dos Maderos' Luxus rum. Expect to find this sweet rum with a sherry profile in stores August, 2012 ($100).
Miami Club Rum
Matt Malone is a little obsessed with his third child, Miami Club Rum. The founder and CEO of Miami's only distillery actually plays salsa music for his rum 24 hours a day, as part of the distilling process. The music must be working, because the rum is smooth and dry, with a citrus aroma and honeyed finish. Miami Club Rum isn't available in stores yet, but you can try some after a tour of the distillery Tuesday and Thursday afternoons (by appointment only). Contact them on Twitter for more info.
Deep in the jungles of Madagascar, the sugar cane grows so close to vanilla trees, the cane takes on its distinct, rich flavor. The resulting rum has intense vanilla notes. Not yet available in Florida, Dzama is looking for a distributor. Expect to pay about $50-70 for a bottle, when it's available.
Extremely popular in Martinique in the French West Indies, Rhum J.M. is being introduced in limited quantities in the United States. The sugarcane is distilled and aged in cognac barrels, with the VSOP (very superior old pale) standards met for its rum. The Vieux VSOP retails for around $54.99.
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This over proof rum from Jamaica is set to be introduced to the Miami Market in the late spring. At 126 proof, most rum turns into lighter fluid, but Rum Fire, which is bottled in the small coastal town of Trelawny, has a smooth finish with a slight afterburn. Maybe not an everyday sipping rum, but very mixable for a potent punch. Price not yet available.