Miami's First Rum Distillery Release Party February 9 at Cardozo Hotel

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Miami's first rum distillery recently opened in Wynwood, but the name of the rum hasn't been released yet.

Considering the proximity of the Caribbean culture and its influence on South Florida, it's about time the Magic City got a distillery. The place is aptly named Destilería Canéca.

Matt Malone, a transplant from Minnesota, was inspired to start the distillery after his wife's grandfather -- a rum maker -- died in 2003. Then a debilitating automobile accident in 2004 caused him to go forward with the idea.

Malone trained on a still in Puerto Rico, and later took classes from Bavarian Brewery Technologies--based in Germany.

The place's guest-greeting lounge is adorned with vintage furniture and mid-century black-and-white photographs of beach pin-up models, some of which were donated by actress and friend Bernadette Peters.

In the middle there is a tasting lab, and in the back is the heart of the distillery.

Malone uses natural and local ingredients, keeping the process as green as possible. He attempts to keep the process of making rum as old school as possible too, stirring the fermentation tanks by hand with wooden paddles.

Made in copper stills, the alcohol only touches copper, stainless steel, cork, glass, and French Oak.

The only part of the aging process he couldn't replicate naturally was the Angel's Share, or the small portion of the rum that is evaporated during the aging process, so he scientifically mimicked the process. Above each aging barrel will be a painting of an angel, a symbolic gesture that pays homage to the guardians of good fortune. 

"You can't cheat the angels," says Malone, "I don't want that on my karma."

The most unique part of the aging process is the music-infusion. For twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, Malone blasts upbeat salsa music out of vintage Bose 901s to age the rum. The bass line vibrates the French Oak curls and is supposed to help age the rum in 60 days.

The place rocks. Malone only plays positive salsa music, but he might throw a Rolling Stones album in there once in awhile.

Malone and friend Michael Kesti established The Azuka Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes healthy lifestyle choices for youth. The distillery will help promote the foundation and its efforts.

The official name of the rum will be unveiled on February 9 at the Cardozo Hotel.

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