Paul McFadyen is one of the most in-demand spirits professionals around. We caught up with him in Miami to talk business, life, travel and rum.
By June Coleman
As I mingled last week at the Rum Renaissance Festival, I found myself in the land of “Pauls!” It seemed as though everyone I met was named “Paul.” Seriously, it was strange. There was Paul “Rum Daddy” Artrip at the American Rums booth. There was Paul Imbesi with North American Beverage, the new distributor of Barritts Ginger Beer. There was Paul from Bacardi and Paul from Ohio and even Paul-ine from TheFloatingRumShack.com (she was cool.) Then there was the interesting and eccentric fellow from the UK, Paul McFadyen. With a permanent smile and self-assured personality, this Paul could usually be found swiveling his way through parties and events with a captivated crowd of enthusiasts at his elbow.
As it turns out, Paul McFadyen has plenty to smile about. He is passionate about the drinks business and has been a major player in the UK scene for quite some time. For nearly a decade he has been affiliated with IPBartenders, a training and branding business that he co-owns with well known cocktail guru, Ben Reed. Put simply, they train bar owners, bartenders and industry reps. about drinks preparation and presentation. They also provide top-notch bartenders to some of the most exclusive parties in London and host a few large-scale events of their own. Much of their business is conducted from their bar / library / clubhouse called The Space. It houses 1300 bottles of spirits, 300 of which happen to be rum. As if that wasn’t cool enough, The Space also houses the largest library of cocktail books in all of Britain.
For the past 2 years Paul has been busy organizing and hosting The Rum Experience along with his partners Ben Reed and Ian Burrell (UK Rum Ambassador-Cotton’s Restaurant.) As you may have guessed, Rum Experience is an annual festival celebrating the culture and lifestyle of rum. The event offers a two-day rum tasting along with endless musical performances, island inspired cuisine, art, dance and a very popular tiki competition. In just two years the event has become wildly successful.
Paul and IPBartenders also organize the Appleton Bartender Challenge. Mixologists from across the UK compete in a spirits knowledge test, free pour test and create 4 classic rum drinks and an original cocktail within 6 minutes. Three finalists compete in a Grand Finale in Jamaica. This year’s winning contestant was Joe Stokoe, who tends bar at All Star Lanes in London. The star cocktail was a “Jerk Daiquiri” made with Appleton Rum, Jerk Sauce, lime and sugar! Master Blender, Joy Spence, who was in attendance at the Grand Finale, raved about the concoction!
As if Paul wasn’t busy enough, he’s also a frequent presenter and speaker at cocktail festivals in Europe and the US. He hosted two sessions at Rum Renaissance and both were well done. The “Your Perfect Rum” session focused on the rum making process and delighted attendees with a tasting of different styles of rum from around the world, some of which were not available at the Grand Tasting. “London Calling” was a lively workshop about London’s legendary bar culture with a few very nice drinks presented and consumed.
So what’s next on the agenda for Paul? Well, The UK Rum Experience is quickly approaching and it promises to be the largest and most successful yet. Another jaunt to Jamaica for the Appleton Challenge is already in the works for 2010 and it will surely be one of THE parties to be at. There are also plans to expand the rum-loving adventures of IPBartenders throughout Europe and then on to Singapore! What’s next on the agenda for this roving reporter you may ask?… To check on flights to Singapore, baby!!!