Rum enthusiast, photographer, Caribbean lifestyle blogger and finalist in the Tommy Bahama Rumologist search. Here’s our interview with Carl Grooms.
How and when did you become interested in rum?
I lived and worked in Europe for many years and received a very in depth education into Scotch Whiskey. When I returned to Florida 10 years ago, I applied everything I knew to rum. Since then I have collected, drank, read and traveled as much as I can to learn about rum. I love its history, its craftsmanship, and its mixology. I have made many great friends in the process.
How many rums are in your collection?
Currently I have fifty bottles, which varies up and down depending on how many people visit to enjoy them with me. I travel to the Caribbean almost monthly and always bring home bottles I cannot find at home. This helps the collection grow.
With a little more convincing I might get my wife to sell the dining room furniture and turn the entire room into a rum den. Wish me luck!
What is your favorite rum (or rums) in each category and why?
Siesta Key White – The 7 strains of yeast produces a white rum that can be enjoyed over ice. The slight butterscotch notes on the nose and the clean finish make this my favorite white rum.
Tommy Bahama White Sand – Richard Seale produced a white using a blend of both pot still and column still rum. The result is a perfect white for my favorite, the Daiquiri #3 as it was made at The La Floridita in 1935.
Cockspur 5 Star – A wonderful everyday mixer from Barbados that can be equally enjoyed on the rocks. I like the hint of spice without being a spice rum.
Barbancourt 3 Star – I am a fan of the entire Barbancourt lineup. This subtle rum is well suited with most traditional rum mixers.
Cruzan Black Strap – Traditional English Navy style rum. This rum has loads of flavor and then some. With molasses front and center and a hint of coffee this rum is unforgettable.
Sailor Jerry – I am a sucker for most anything Virgin Island. This 92 proof spiced rum with a hint of cherry rarely lasts long in my house. I like the way it marries with many of my favorite boat drink recipes.
Brinley Gold Shipwreck Spiced Rum – My buddy Rum Shop Ryan brought me back a bottle from St. Kitts recently. This rum is much more sweet than Sailor Jerry. Marshmallow and spices dominate. This rum is a close cousin to the new release of Siesta Key Spice Rum which is rapidly finding a strong following. They both feel like Christmas in the Caribbean in my mouth.
Premium Aged Rum:
Appleton Estate Master Blender’s Legacy – Only 1,440 bottles were released and all were spoken for prior to hitting the shelves over two years ago. Recently I acquired a bottle which was sitting on the Duty Free shelf in the Montego Bay Airport. What luck.
Havana Club Barrel Proof – This bottle was the center of my collection until I recently finished it on National Rum Day. The toffee, cinnamon and extra heat from the higher proof were amongst the best I’ve ever had. The unique double cask finishing is more reminiscent of whiskey than rum. Wonderful.
Do you have a favorite rum bar?
Two rum bars in the U.S. currently capture my attention. The first in Key West, is The Rum Bar at the Speakeasy Inn on Duval St. If Hemingway were still alive he would drink here when Bahama Bob was behind the bar.
The second is the Rum Bar in Philadelphia. Adam Kanter, was a fine competitor in the Rumologist competition unfortunately he did not advance. Adam oozes rum and runs a fine establishment in downtown Philly. I’ll be visiting him at the end of October.
What is your regular cocktail?
Daiquiri #3. The classic just shouldn’t be messed with. I hand shake it. Use organic sugar cane crystals (I don’t like to use simple syrup for this one) and strain.
Where is the best place to buy rum in your area?
Norman’s Fine Wine and Liquor in Sarasota and South Trail Liquor in Sarasota are my go to sources. Norman’s is like a Disneyland of choices. Unfortunately I’ve bought just about every type of rum they stock already so now I’m forced to look at smaller places to see what is collecting dust on the back shelves. I think you’ve been known to do the same Mike.
Which rum would you travel to buy?
Black Tot, “Last Consignment”. As a former Naval Officer, I love all things related to the traditions of the Naval Service. Combine that with my love of rum and it is easy to understand the attraction.
Ideally I would like to acquire two bottles. One to drink now and one to keep. Perhaps I would open it on my death bed for one last toast to a great ride.
When did you launch Coastlines & Tan Lines and what is your focus?
Coastlines & Tan Lines was launched six months ago. Originally it was meant to help drive traffic to my bikini company, Conch Republic Bikinis. A strange thing happened along the way. The blog has now become much larger than the bikini company!
Evidently people really identify with the idea of, “Life in the Little Latitudes”. I publish five days a week interspacing video with written articles and photography. Video has become more and more prevalent as my readers are showing a strong demand for it.
Rum, of course, is a big source of inspiration and stories on the blog. The Caribbean and the island lifestyle are so closely interwoven with our favorite spirit that one cannot help but write about it if you seek to be credible.
Based on the blog’s success, I now travel to the Caribbean every six weeks to tour new rum distilleries, find great beach bars and rum shops and see how much trouble I can get into. All great sources of stories and videos.
What should we watch out for from Coastlines & Tan Lines in the coming year?
Much more travel to the islands. With winter setting in, my readers are going to be eager to get a mental vacation to somewhere hot. In November I’m heading to the Virgin Islands with you Mike. That should be fun! Then we’re off on the Rum Cruise. There won’t be enough days to match up with the stories that these two weeks will generate.
I am also excited about the new year. One highlight will be the Antigua Classic Yacht Races in April. I have been invited to crew and film on three classic all wooden yachts. One of the yachts, the 1902 all wooden English schooner, Coral I am filming my first documentary on.
Words of wisdom
Watching people’s eyes light up after you introduce them to the wide spectrum of rum is very rewarding. The history of the Western World starting in the mid 1600’s to the present cannot be told without including the topic of rum itself. It is our privilege as rum lovers to tell these stories and introduce these flavors to those who will listen.