An event that puts the spotlight on the spirit made from sugarcane will make its annual return to Miami in November.
For more than a decade, spirit enthusiasts have gathered together to celebrate one of the nation's largest celebrations of rum. Known as the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, the event returns for its 14th year at the Coral Gables Woman's Club on Saturday, November 11, and Sunday, November 12.
The festival celebrates the art and science of rum making and is designed to attract rum connoisseurs, collectors, and enthusiasts interested in mingling with producers, master distillers, importers, distributors, retailers, and members of the spirits trade.
Not many people know that the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival has a rich and long-standing history in the Magic City since its inception in 2008. Initially conceived as a charitable tasting event at the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables, the festival quickly gained momentum as rum producers worldwide joined forces to showcase their products to an enthusiastic audience.
During a recent interview, Miami Run Renaissance Festival founder Robert Burr shared insights into the history of the festival, its evolution, and what attendees can expect from this year's latest edition.
"Our journey with rum began years [ago] when we discovered exceptional rums while traveling," Burr tells New Times. "We recognized that rum was due for a renaissance of appreciation, and that's when we began organizing our guide and tracking its progress."
Over the years, the festival has become a premier local gathering for rum enthusiasts, attracting new and iconic brands. That means attendees can always expect access to tasting new flavors or hard-to-find rums alongside emerging brands.
This year, the 2023 lineup is even more highly curated, adds Burr, and promises both new and returning attendees the opportunity to discover several all-new unique and iconic rums. Exceptional rums this year include a limited legacy edition of Chairman's Reserve from Saint Lucia, vintage Saint James, and Trois Riviere's rums from Martinique.
In addition to new releases, the festival will feature rare, luxury, and limited-edition rums for those seeking something exceptional. With such a vast selection, Burr says selecting the featured rums at the festival is no small task.
"We spend a good part of each year searching out the most interesting rums, notable distillers, new blends, and special cask expressions," he says. "We're always keeping an eye out for innovation and outstanding new products."
More than just a reason to drink good rum, the festival also boasts a lineup of educational seminars at the Courtyard by Marriott Coral Gables, where industry experts will discuss various rum-related topics from history and production to cultural nuances. One symposium even plans to cover the terroir of sugarcane growing in Granada, offering insights into the country's unique method of rum production.
"We feel we are now a great balance of size and educational appeal," says Burr, who stresses the festival's educational component. "Today, people attend our festival because they know they will always discover a new or specialty rum and still learn something new about longstanding rum brands."
The best part of the yearly fest is the ability to sample new rums from far-off locales that aren't yet available in Miami. Some rum producers head to the show hoping to catch the eyes and palates of distributors eager to find interesting additions to their portfolios. Others have a deal in place and want to introduce their rum to the industry and the public to garner an early fan base.
Each year, in addition to tastings, seminars, and general rum-infused revelry, the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival hands out awards for the world's best rums in several categories. The awards are announced prior to the festival.
Sample those, and dozens more, during the festival's main event, the "Grand Tasting," on Sunday, November 12, when attendees can peruse an array of exceptional rum from around the world. This year, the event takes over the historic Woman's Club in Coral Gables, transforming its grand hall into a rum lover's paradise with producers and distributors presenting hundreds of rum varieties. For those seeking an even more exclusive experience, the VIP tasting bar offers luxury, limited edition, and vintage rums.
Burr says newcomers are always welcome at the festival but offers some valuable advice for those who don't appreciate rum like a historian.
"Take your time and look around to get the offerings' depth and breadth," advises Burr. "This is a tasting event, not a rum-drinking event. Learning to take tasting sips is the key to understanding rum as you gain appreciation from producers who offer insightful details about the rums and methods of production."
Miami Rum Renaissance Festival. 12:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday, November 11, and Sunday, November 12, at the Coral Gables Woman's Club, 1001 E. Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables; 305-350-0764; rumrenaissance.com. Tickets cost $49 to $59.