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Renaissance Rundown Pt. 2

Here’s Part 2 of our Rum Renaissance Rundown.  Good drink, good friends and good times seem to be the theme.  Cheers!

Day 3:

Once again, day 3 of Rum Renaissance started early as I was awoken in stereo by my trusty alarm clock and front desk wake-up call.  Glad both were in place.  Breakfast was hosted at the Delano by  the team from Cartavio, makers of very fine rum from Peru.  They talked about the company, their history and announced the upcoming release of Cartavio XO, which is wonderful and everyone should keep an eye out for.

After breakfast it was back down to the Florida Room for round 2 of the Rum XP Tasting Competition.  Today’s categories were Dark and Aged Rums and they just seemed to get better as the day unfolded.

At 5pm we all loaded into the Rums of Puerto Rico bus and drove out to the brand new Bacardi facility in Coral Gables.  We were treated to a party in their penthouse and enjoyed plenty of great food and well mixed cocktails.  The Bacardi archives are housed here and we were able to browse through years and years of company history.

Back on the bus we went and minutes later arrived at the Biltmore Hotel where Ron Matusalem was hosting our next party.  Matusalem chose well as the Biltmore is just a beautiful vintage hotel.  Among the treats in store for us was the unveiling of Matusalem 18, their latest aged rum.  We mingled with the great people who represent this company and sampled more fine rum before being summoned to the next party.

Back at the Ritz Carlton-Miami Beach a rum party was in full swing and hosted by our friends at Rums of Puerto Rico.  This was one of those surreal moments when the music, venue, food, drink and company were all perfect and the evening couldn’t have been any better.  Sipping Reserva Limitada and talking with our new friends from Rums of Puerto Rico was among the highlights of the week.  Thanks all!

Drinks @ Bacardi VIP

Drinks @ Bacardi VIP

All smiles @ Bacardi

All smiles @ Bacardi

Matusalem 18 @ Biltmore

Matusalem 18 @ Biltmore

Rums of Puerto Rico

Rums of Puerto Rico

The Chairman's crew

The Chairman's crew

VIP w/ Bruce Barritt

VIP w/ Bruce Barritt

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Day 4:

The Rum XP group got together at noon to discuss the Tasting Competition and get a sneak peak at some of the results.  This is a great group of guys who have an unshakable passion for cane spirits and I’m happy to be among such good company.

At 1pm the doors of the Grand Tasting (the main event) at the Raleigh Hotel were flung open and a herd of rum aficionados began to circulate through the tents and cabanas that housed rums from around the world.  Bikini clad women poured samples of premium spirits while distillery bigwigs explained the process behind their products.  By mid-afternoon the temperature had risen to 90+ and shade was scares, but there was no stopping this party and the rum just kept flowing.

Barritt’s Ginger Beer held a drinks competition at 3:30 and, again, I was happy to serve as a judge.  They received over 200 entries and after much deliberation announced two winning drinks (more on that in days to come.)

Later in the afternoon, the International Tiki-Off was held on the Rum Renaissance main stage and it did not disappoint.  Tiki teams from the US and UK competed in several categories including knowledge test, speed round, drink crafting and, on Saturday, a live skit performance.  It was a fight to the finish, but the boys from the UK squeaked out a win.  Well done fellas.

As the sun set, The Grand Tasting drew to a close and after just a minute or two of rest we stumbled down to the final VIP party which was hosted by Appleton Rum at the Delano Hotel’s Florida Room.  A band played, Appleton 12 was consumed, the Conteporary Cocktails crew mixed perfect drinks and good fun was had until the wee hours.  Stumbled back (and I do mean stumble) to the Raleigh, one more drink at the lobby bar, and it’s off to bed.  Damn, I need some sleep.

The 2010 Rum Renaissance Festival was a huge success.  Thanks to all that made it possible, especially Robert & Robin Burr and Rob Burr Jr.  You guys rock!  If you didn’t attend this year, get your act together and start making plans for 2011!!   Cheers!

Zafra booth

Zafra booth

Hand rolled cigars

Hand rolled cigars

Seven Tiki

Seven Tiki

Dennis Rodman

Dennis Rodman

Bacardi Waitress

Bacardi Waitress

Diplomatico booth

Diplomatico booth

Meeting Rum Shop Ryan

Meeting Rum Shop Ryan

The RnD Guys

The RnD Guys

Rums of PR girls

Rums of PR girls

Danny Smith of UK Tiki

Danny Smith of UK Tiki

Jeff "Beachbum" Berry

Jeff "Beachbum" Berry

UK Tiki takes the win

UK Tiki takes the win