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People Profile: Nick Feris

Spreading the gospel of rum to spirits aficionados in Seattle, Nick Feris is a Rum XP and founder of the Rum Collective.  Here’s his story.


How and when did you become interested in rum?

My passion for rum developed in part from my long standing interest in pills and potions and a certain travel experience. After graduating with a doctoral degree in Pharmacy I had a reasonable understanding of drugs, including ethanol. However, at this point, rum had consisted mainly of fond memories with Cuba Libres and good friends at University. Then, a few years later, I stumbled across Airlie Beach Bar in Queensland, Australia and became enchanted with this spirit and its history. The diversity of rum, from the differences in styles and manufacturing processes to the romantic associations it conjures was attractive. The challenge to understand each one was what I chose to undertake.  

How many rums are in your collection?

To be honest, I have lost count. My estimate is over 150 different rums.

What is your favorite rum (or rums) in each category and why?

Clear (White): Banks 5 Island (Perfect for many cocktails, a robust flavor for a white rum)

Gold: Appleton V/X (It’s Appleton!)

Aged (up to 12yr): Ron Abuelo 7yr / Dos Maderas P.X.  (tough call, but both of these rums stand out. I enjoy the smoky oakiness in the Abuelo 7yr and the mature and slightly sweeter complex flavor profile in Dos Maderas P.X. Cost is also a big factor in this category.)

Premium Aged (over 12yr): Mt Gay 1703 (I love sipping it with a little water to open up the flavors, it has a wonderfully smooth extended finish)

Dark: Gosling’s Dark (perfect for a Dark n’ Stormy and making rum cake!)

Rhum Agricole: Rhum Clement Cuvee Homere (cool bottle with amazing contents to match)

Flavored: I rarely drink flavored rums, but if I had to choose, it would be one made by Brinley. Brinley’s products taste less like a bunch manufactured additives than many others. I will also mention Clement Creole Shrubb here too, which I like for some cocktails.

Spiced: Foursquare Spiced Rum (Balanced spices and slightly dry without too much dominant vanilla flavor) 

Do you have a favorite rum bar?

No, but I fancy several nationally, including: Smuggler’s Cove (San Francisco) and Rum Bar (Philadelphia). Internationally, it would be back to Airlie Beach Bar in Queensland, Australia.

What is your regular cocktail?

My regular cocktail depends on my mood and the setting where I am drinking. It is either a classic Daiquiri (Appleton Estate) or Rum Old Fashioned (El Dorado 15).

Where is the best place to buy rum in your area?

University Village Liquor Store, Seattle, WA #96 

Which rum would you travel to buy?

Dos Maderas Luxus

When did you launch the Rum Collective and what is your focus?

I officially launched The Rum Collective in October 2010 drinking a few new rums with friends while discussing a website and my business card design. The Rum Collective’s mission is to enhance awareness of and develop appreciation for rum, from the still to the cocktail, in Seattle and beyond. The focus is on education and tastings, but also to expose new rums and to celebrate rum’s utility in cocktails at bars that appreciate rum locally. 

What should we watch out for from the Rum Collective in the coming year?

The Rum Collective is young and several changes are being considered to enhance the Northwest’s rum scene as well as improve our “rumprint”. Look out for The Rum Collective to register as an official entity and as such, provide merchandise, organize larger annual events as well as regular meetings where all proceeds will be donated to support environmental and wildlife causes in rum producing nations and beyond. These changes will align my passion for rum with my concern for the Earth. Of course, there will be more and more rum too!

Words of wisdom… 

“The church is near, but the road is icy. The bar is far away, but I will walk carefully.” Russian Proverb