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People Profile: Roger Patteson

Say hello to Roger Patteson. He’s a well known cane spirits reviewer, world traveler and our drinking buddy on a few occassions. Here’s the interview.


How and when did you become interested in rum?

I had my first memorable experience with rum on a tall ship in the West Indies and British Virgin Islands in 2000. I was introduced to many local and exotic rums along with cocktails like the ship’s “Rum Swizzle”, “Killer Bees” from Sunshine’s on Nevis and the “Painkiller” from Pusser’s on Tortola. My interest grew significantly in 2005 on a sailing trip from the West Indies to the Grenadines where I was fortunate to meet my future rum website partner, Dave Russell.  We quickly became friends and he introduced me to Chairman’s Reserve Rum one evening off the coast of St. Lucia. We then spent the next couple of weeks looking for rum on the small islands where we stopped. This was my first experience with the premium-aged rum category. The rest is history…

How many rums are in your collection?

Not as many as I’d like to have but more than I need. I stopped counting after I reached 165 a year ago but my guess would be less than 200 bottles. I always want to add great rum to my collection and I don’t believe I’ll ever have as large of a collection as some of my friends who have more than a thousand bottles. You’d be surprised how much space 100 rum bottles take up. 

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

This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many great rums out there. Tastes and palates change over time so what was my favorite rum years ago might not be the same today. I say to some people that my favorite rum is what’s in my glass at the time. 

A few memorable rums have to do with the situation or story behind it. A memorable gold rum is Chairman’s Reserve due to it being the first aged rum I was introduced to by my website partner, Dave Russell.  A very memorable Agricole Rhum from Martinique is Clement 1976 which Ben Jones introduced me to a few years ago. It’s extremely rare and it’s where I met Ben and shared a good story about meeting his Uncle on St. Barts with Dave. A memorable overproof rum is the bottle of Jack Iron Rum I found on Carriacou 6 years ago. It had a homemade label on the backside of a recycled Johnny Walker bottle!  In the Spiced Rum category I favor my own recipe (available on the RnD website). I make it for friends and family during the holidays. It’s based on a homemade batch of spiced rum I found on St. Lucia. I have too many great memorable premium-aged rums to mention them all. 

Do you have a favorite rum bar?

My favorite local rum bar here in Portland is a small Tiki Bar named Thatch. There are many great rum bars around the world and a memorable one is The Bristol Bar, located in the prestigious Bristol Hotel, in Panama City, Panama. It has an extensive menu of very rare rums from all over the world. There are a few friends’ rum bars I’d like to visit including Martin Cate’s Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, Adam Kanter’s Rum Bar in Philadelphia, and Ian Burrell’s Cottons in London. 

What is your regular cocktail?

My regular cocktail lately has been the Caipirinha due to the refreshingly unique flavors that come from Cachaça. I also like a simple lime daiquiri and a well made mojito. But most of the time I just like to enjoy rum neat in a rocks glass.  

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

There are two places I go to locally; The Hyland Hills Liquor Store located in Beaverton, Oregon, and The Pearl Specialty Market and Spirits located in the Pearl District in downtown Portland, Oregon.

Which rum would you travel to buy?

I love to travel in general and take the opportunity when I can to search for rare or fine rums that are unavailable or hard to find in the USA. I once walked into an enoteca in the small hillside town of Cortona in Tuscany and was surprised to find two really rare bottles of rum that were unavailable in the USA. You never know what you are going to find during your travels, so if you find something special you’d better buy it as you may never see it again!

When did you launch RnD Rum Reviews and what is your focus?

We launched RnD Rum Reviews in June of 2006. We had been talking about starting a rum review website that spring after returning from a couple of long sailing trips to the West Indies and BVIs. Dave and I were looking for great rum on our trips and back in the states, and searched for a website to help guide us on our journey. Based on the lack of content available on the web at the time, we saw a need and decided to go for it! After completing 10 reviews we launched a modest blog site and focused on increasing the number of reviews and writing articles on rum. A couple of months later we changed to a more comprehensive website. The current site is our third version. 

Our focus and philosophy is about being “Your Guide to Great Rum” by giving our audience honest and unbiased opinions of the rum we’ve found on our journeys along with something interesting about the rum or an interesting story on how we discovered it. We only have rum on our website that we would recommend to our friends. Our motto is if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. That should tell you a lot about our site and us. We also aren’t connected to advertisers, distiller, or distributors. 

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

In September we will complete our 200th rum review. We have a goal to reach 250 a year from now. It’s been a rewarding and fun 5 years, so stay tuned for more great reviews, articles, and news from RnD!

Words of wisdom…

Have conviction to be the person you want to be and live the life you want to live. You have opportunity for growth and to learn everyday of your life.