Meet Luis Ayala, a Texas-based rum consultant, collector, enthusiast, promoter and publisher of Got Rum Magazine. Here’s our interview.
How and when did you become interested in rum?
From a very young age, my grandfather taught me how to mix cocktails (mainly so I could keep making them for him during gatherings/parties). I was about 7 years old when I made my first cocktail and, even though I didn’t try it, I was fascinated by mixology. Later on I became interested in the effect of terroir on brandy and tequilia and by the time I left Mexico to attend college in Texas, I was in love with rum.
How many rums are in your collection?
According to the last count we have over 700 different rums but haven’t counted the collection for several years now (it cuts into our drinking time), so who knows how many we have now. Each month we get a few more, so it is very possible we are closer to 900 by now.
What is your favorite rum (or rums) in each category and why?
I tend to like light, young, low congener rums early in the day, leaving the complex, oak-rich rums for afternoons and evenings. I am not much of a mixer these days, although I’m regularly inventing new cocktails for clients and guests so I enjoy my rums neat or with a single ice cube.
Do you have a favorite rum bar?
Yes, the Ayala Rum Bar! We have a seat reserved for you.
What is your regular cocktail?
If I’m really in the mood for something sweet (not the case very often) I’ll make a Corn ‘n’ Oil. I also like Zafra Honey Martinis and a few personal creations, such as the Caipileano. (I’ll make one for you when you visit us in Texas)
Where is the best place to buy rum in your area?
Spec’s. Definitely Spec’s.
Which rum would you travel to buy?
Santa Teresa Bodega Privada, I’m on my last bottle! Also Ron Coloso from Guatemala, I’m very close to running out of this one as well.
When did you launch Got Rum? and what is your focus?
What should we watch out for from Got Rum? in the coming year?
We will continue to interview master blenders so our readers can learn more about these mysterious alchemists. We are also considering adding a classified ads section for people wanting to sell collectibles to people looking for used pot stills or fermentation tanks.
Words of wisdom…
Any rum lover who is asked to be a judge at a competition should really take the time to understand rum styles and to score rums based on the styles the distillers are emulating. How much the judge likes or dislikes a rum has nothing to do with the rum being a good representation of the style. I don’t like white rums as much as I do aged, dark rums, but I can tell when someone is using their still correctly and can reward them, even if the rum they made is not my favorite. Other than this, have fun: rum should be taken seriously only during competitions, it is all about making you feel happy and relaxed elsewhere!