I love wine, but I must admit that most of my early drinking was rum based. I think most of us have the preconception that rum is a spirit for cocktails, not one you drink neat but that just isn't true. Last weekend I attended The Rum Lab's California Rum Festival and learned a lot about rum. This year the festival was held at SOMArts, which I thankfully live close enough to walk to. I attended both the Spirits Industry and General Public sessions. Each of these sessions featured over 25 rum brands (and a few other related non-rum vendors) and several Master Class Seminars.
There were no bad rums, but some stuck out better than others to me. The biggest trend was rum industry taking a note from the whiskey industry and providing aged spirits intended to drink neat or on the rocks, but not in a cocktail. Overall it was a delightful event that I plan on attending annually. You can check out the photos and recommendations below.
These are the rums that stood out for me (in alphabetical order because they were all awesome):
Panama Pacific Rum - This rum comes entirely from Panama molasses and is from Haas Brothers, a local company behind several excellent brands of spirits. This rum celebrates San Francisco's 1915 Pan Pacific Expo and the general spirit of San Francisco. The rum is available in a 9 year aged and 23 year aged varieties.
Pusser's Rum Did you know that British Naval officers received an allocation of rum until 1970?! I knew historically they had but didn't realize it had ended so recently. Pusser's now owns the rights to the official British Navy rum, including the original recipe and the distillery's. I really enjoyed learning more about the British Naval history of rum from Japeth during the seminar he led.
Rum Fire -There are lots of reasons to love this over proof clear rum but for me the best reason is how versatile it is in cocktail making. In addition to trying this rum neat I also tasted it as part of a cocktail called the Velvet Hammer containing Orgeat Syrup. I've seen Small Hands Food Orgeat Syrup everywhere in San Francisco, but had no clue how to use it, now I know.
Wild Tiger - Did you know India has been producing rum for over one thousand years? I didn't until I met Gautom with Wild Tiger Rum. In addition to their innovative use of using both sugar cane and molasses in their blended rum, they have a unique and memorable bottle, wrapped in faux tiger stripes. Even better than the taste and fun spirit of the bottle, they donate a portion of their profits to The Wild Tiger Foundation.