In 2008, the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival debuted in Coral Gables with just 54 luxury rums and 150 attendees. Over a decade later, it has become the largest gathering of rum experts and professionals in the world.
In 2019, the 11th-annual event will return to its roots with more-intimate tastings at the historic Coral Gables Woman's Club.
"Rum is a spirit that brings people together," festival host Robert Burr says. "Our mission is to help our friends learn about rum, learn how to taste rum, understand rum, and shine a light on the very best rums in the world."
On Friday, May 17, and Saturday, May 18, pirates, tiki mugs, and hundreds of glistening bottles of rum will fill the Woman's Club, where attendees will have their pick of unlimited pours and seminars.
Though the spirit is most associated with the islands of the Caribbean, rum is made throughout the world. Traditionally, rum is distilled in places where sugarcane is grown, but there's also a growing number of craft distillers from U.S. states such as Utah and Pennsylvania. For more than a decade, the festival has been South Florida's opportunity to try interesting and innovative rums and discover which ones are worthy of a place at home.
"Miami Rum Renaissance Festival is the place where rum reputations are made, where new products are first released, and where the public has easy access to an incredible range of cane spirits,” Burr says.
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This year, approximately 75 vendors will offer more than 200 varieties of rum from the Caribbean, the Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa. There will also be various seminars covering topics from the emerging American rum market to the diversity of everyday rum.
Tastings begin Friday at 2 p.m. for members of the trade and VIP rum enthusiasts, with general admission following from 4 to 8 p.m. The festival continues Saturday with VIP admission at 2 p.m., followed by general admission from 4 to 10 p.m.
"We are experiencing a rum renaissance of epic proportions, with so many fine rums coming to market," Burr says. "This is a chance to learn and better appreciate the fascinating spirit of rum."
Miami Rum Renaissance Festival. Friday, May 17, and Saturday, May 18, at the Coral Gables Woman's Club, 1001 E. Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables; 707-278-6736; rumrenaissance.com. Tickets cost $25 to $125 via rumrenaissance.com.