Robs Rum Guide

your guide to the world's finest rums

Tag: distillery

Alligator Bay Distillers in Punta Gorda

With a nod to the backwater regions of Southwest Florida, Alligator Bay Distillers is a family-run operation producing a line of boutique rum products from their production facility in Punta Gorda, Florida.

Alex Voss at Alligator Bay Distillers

Alex Voss with Robin and Robert Burr at Alligator Bay Distillers

Alex Voss grew up in Naples, a small town south of Fort Myers. In 2012, he moved to Maui, Hawaii where he learned to make rum. He started as an apprentice and worked his way up to distiller at Haleakalā Distillers.

Returning to Naples, Alex brought home his knowledge of cane spirit production, collaborating with family members to launch their own facility in 2015.

While Alex concentrates on rum production, brother Ben Voss leads the marketing efforts and serves as chief mechanic at Alligator Bay Distillers.

We arrived on a Saturday afternoon for a look around and a tour of the facility. Alex welcomed us and spoke of his process and philosophy of making rum at Alligator Bay Distillers.

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Starting with molasses from Clewiston — the legendary sugar town near Lake Okeechobee — Alex has perfected his fermentation process with an ideal active dry yeast strain that thrives in the warm humid climate of Southwest Florida. The fermentation process takes seven days and produces a rum mash with an alcohol content of 8%.

The distillation process involves double distillation in a traditional copper pot still to 70% abv, retaining much of the molasses and cane flavors in his distillate.

The aging room is completely filled with resting oak barrels. The aroma of rum and wood is enticing — and certainly whets the appetite for the next stop on the tour — the tasting room.

Alligator Bay rums

Alligator Bay rums

Indeed, the clear rum retains a true flavor of cane and serves as the base for the spiced rum. The Sun Gold rum is lightly aged and the addition of Black Mangrove honey offers a nice finish. The Saba Treasure offers a subtle hint of fennel.

The rum that brings home the most awards is the chocolate-infused Dark Rum. This boutique specialty took home a gold award in the 2017 RumXP international tasting competition at Rum Renaissance Festival.

With a motto of “cane to bottle,” the small batch rums made by Alex Voss at Alligator Bay Distillers are distinguished by his artisan hands-on approach to production.

The distillery is open for tours Monday through Saturday from 11am to 3pm, starting on top of the hour, at 25522 E Marion Ave. Punta Gorda FL, 33950.

Call 941-347-8419 or email: info@alligatorbaydistillers.com. Visit the web site at: http://alligatorbaydistillers.com/


For more information about types of rum, see Rob’s Rum Guide tutorials.

To stay informed about news and updates in the world of rum, subscribe to Robs Rum Guide.

View insightful and succinct video rum reviews: Rum Minute YouTube Channel.

Experience the ultimate rum travel adventure: Rum Renaissance Caribbean Cruise.

NJoy Distillery Tour – Florida Mermaid Rum

You’re sure to enjoy a visit to NJoy Distillery, the producers of Florida Mermaid Rum.

Just beyond the bustling modern suburbs, remnants of the pioneer era of west central Florida remain hidden in plain sight. Several miles down a sandy dirt road, an old hunting cabin has been transformed into the paradisaical home of NJoy Distillery.

Persistence pays off as you near the entrance to this large ranch property just north of Weeki Wachee’s famed clear springs and mermaid shows, hidden within a massive undeveloped state park.

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NJoy Distillery Tour

You’ll be surprised and delighted to discover what Natalie and Kevin Goff have created in this rustic environment. It’s more than a craft distillery, artfully tucked into a barn. It’s a working spirit production facility that begs to be seen and admired by rum enthusiast visitors from near and far.

N-Joy Distilery - the hand-hammered copper pot still

the hand-hammered copper pot still at NJoy Distillery

As you gaze off in the distance of this large farm, beyond the old water wheel, past the horse stables, six acres of tall green sugar cane — featuring seven different varietals — grows in long rows.

A small stream running from the picturesque waterwheel leads to a large pond with a tall fountain. This is old Florida revisited. This is a special place.

Kevin gives us the tour of the works, established in 2012, starting with the crusher, fermentation and distillation sections of the barn. They’re collecting rain water — filtered three times — for the mash and proofing.

This still is a beauty — a classic 300 liter (80 gallon) hand-hammered alembic-style copper pot still from Portugal.

Florida Mermaid Rum

Their popular Florida Mermaid Rum — with a nod to the local Weeki Wachee natural attraction — features their own boutique rum blended with a special Caribbean pot still rum, bottled at 100 proof, without colorings or flavorings.

NJoy Distillery - Florida Mermaid Rum

NJoy Distillery – Florida Mermaid Rum

Only steps away, the blended rum rests in 25 large Wild Buck Whiskey barrels in an outdoor shipping container for 90 days.

The nose begins with bold aromas of black banana, flowers and butter. Next, vanilla and almond emerge over oak with a big funky fruit basket.

On the palate, complex esters offer a delightfully fruity astringent entry that evolves to big warmth in the mid-palate. Wood and brown butter dominate before some baking spice as the finish slowly fades.

Florida Mermaid Rum is the recipient of many awards and accolades from numerous competitions, including Best In Class in the boutique rum category at the 2018 International Rum Expert Panel tasting competition at Rum Renaissance Festival.

Mermaid Rum is now available in many Florida locations, including ABC Fine Wine & Spirits and Total Wines & More, distributed by Republic National Distributing. The 750ml bottle retails for $39.95.

NJoy Distillery Products

NJoy is also home to Wild Buck Whiskey, made from 401 black rye grown on the farm, plus Ryes In Shine moonshine.

The farm also hosts 600 bee hives for pollination, as well as a source for delicious honey for sale. A local baker delivers fresh rum cakes every weekend, adding a delightful element to the visit.

The NJoy Distillery is open for free tours and tastings every weekend from 11am to 3pm, with tasty cocktails to imbibe on the shady deck by the pond. Take home a bottle of Florida Mermaid Rum, Wild Buck Whiskey, Ryes In Shine, some local honey and a rum cake.

The address is 7237 Wild Buck Rd, Weeki Wachee, FL 34613. Call 352-592-9622.

https://www.wildbuckwhiskey.com/mermaid-rum


For more information about types of rum, see Rob’s Rum Guide tutorials.

To stay informed about news and updates in the world of rum, subscribe to Robs Rum Guide.

View insightful and succinct video rum reviews: Rum Minute YouTube Channel.

Experience the ultimate rum travel adventure: Rum Renaissance Caribbean Cruise.

Sugar Sand Distillery near Lake Placid

Hidden in the midst of a cane field, on a road that’s far from any highway, an open-air boutique distillery is attracting the attention of rum enthusiasts with their classic plantation method of turning sugar cane into rum. Sugar Sand Distillery crushes their own cane, ferments the fresh juice daily and uses their wood-encased copper pot still to make small batches of rum — the same way it was done centuries ago.

Sugar Sand Distillery - Lake Placid, FL

Sugar Sand Distillery features an open-air copper pot still hidden in the midst of a tall cane field.

The result is a simple and delicious cane spirit.

Some of the rum is maturing in small oak barrels to be bottled as golden aged rum.

Rum’s Natural Environment

Way out on Henscratch Road, near the town of Lake Placid, Florida, we found Don Davies and Jessica Giffin (the Distillery Queen) busy hosting folks in their tasting room and overseeing the craft distillation equipment they use to make fresh rum.

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In the background, tall green sugar cane stalks are swaying in the gentle breeze of a former citrus grove, cleverly fed by a hydroponic system that delivers water and nutrients directly to the base of each plant. It’s a modern and efficient method for raising cane (pun intended) in the sandy soil of south central Florida, a by-product of Don’s decades of experience in the fertilizer industry.

Sugar Sand Distillery Philosophy

“We didn’t know what we didn’t know when we started,” Don tells us. “Apparently no one else does it this way in Florida. We want to grow our own cane, rather than use molasses. We have a special device that peels the cane before crushing for a cleaner juice. And, we want to make each small batch by hand so we can control the process. It’s about quality, not quantity at Sugar Sand Distillery.”

There’s plenty of enthusiasm in the tasting room, as visitors savor the rum made only 20 feet away in a still that looks like something borrowed from a Willy Wonka movie. It tastes like cane, with a bit of smoky flavor from the heavily charred oak barrels. The sense of discovering something new and unique is a delight to those that make the journey.

Sugar Sand Distillery Rum - Lake Placid, FL

Sugar Sand Rum from Lake Placid, Florida is a limited edition authentic boutique craft spirit.

Distribution is a challenge, but they’re making steady progress throughout Florida. Sugar Sand Distillery also sells a moonshine and a vodka product made from cane. Almost everyone buys a bottle or three when they visit the distillery and that makes a big difference to the bottom line for this emerging production facility.

Visiting Florida Rum Distilleries

It’s great to see small Florida distilleries like Sugar Sand popping up all over the sunshine state. It’s a movement that benefits consumers by having more and better choices for unique styles of rum to enjoy.

Visit Sugar Sand Distillery for free tastings on Saturdays between 11am and 6pm. The address is 264 Henscratch Road near Lake Placid, FL 33852. Call 863-449-0470. https://www.facebook.com/sugarsanddistillery/


For more information about types of rum, see Rob’s Rum Guide tutorials.

To stay informed about news and updates in the world of rum, subscribe to Robs Rum Guide.

View insightful and succinct video rum reviews: Rum Minute YouTube Channel.

Experience the ultimate rum travel adventure: Rum Renaissance Caribbean Cruise.

Mezan Jamaica 2000 vintage rum

From the legendary Long Pond Distillery in Trelawny, Jamaica, this vintage Mezan Jamaica 2000 expression delivers the classic fruity and funky profile we’ve come to expect from legacy Jamaican distillers.

Mezan has built a reputation for bottling authentic, unadulterated spirits from notable producers in select destinations, and this Jamaica 2000 is no exception.

Mezan Jamaica 2000 - From the legendary Long Pond Distillery in Trelawny, Jamaica, this vintage 2000 rum from Mezan delivers authentic Jamaican funkiness and rich fruity notes.

Mezan’s authentic Jamaica 2000 vintage rum comes from the legendary Long Pond distillery’s traditional double thumper pot still.

Long Pond is known for their long, slow fermentation cycles, allowing natural yeast to convert sugar to alcohol over a long period in the traditional manner. The addition of dunder from previous fermentations is an old technique long lost at modern distilleries.

This slow fermentation process builds rich and complex high ester flavor profiles, which are refined by a double distillation process in their traditional double retort pot still.

The result of this uniquely rich fermentation and rustic distillation is big rum flavor — Mezan Jamaica 2000 offers a reflection of style that made Jamaican rums famous the world over for centuries.

Aromas of sweet butter and charred oak, then big banana lead to subtle chardonnay with a hint of green apple before traces of pineapple, then a vegetal bouquet of fruit and dank earthiness over bread dough. On the palate, Mezan Jamaica 2000 presents a smooth entry of rich buttery toffee gives way to a very interesting briny, earthy leather and complex fruit notes tempered by a woody finish.

The 750ml bottle of Mezan Jamaica 2000 sells for $54.95.

St. Augustine Rum debuts in Florida

The inaugural Discovery Series of rums will soon debut at Florida’s St. Augustine Distillery. On Thursday, September 3rd, the public will be invited to purchase the first bottles of St. Augustine Rum from the distillery’s gift shop, located on Riberia Street in downtown St. Augustine, Florida.

A limited series of St. Augustine Rum craft expressions will be released on the following schedule: Series 1 in September, Series 2 in October, Series 3 in November and Series 4 in December. The St. Augustine Distillery’s flagship rum (or final recipe) is slated for a January 2016 release.

St. Augustine Rum - A limited series of craft rum expressions will be released by the St. Augustine Distillery in the last months of 2015, before the final version of this new rum debuts in January.

The historic St. Augustine distillery will debut their new pot still rum with a series of limited edition expressions. The rums will also be featured at their Ice Plant Bar and Restaurant.

Each of these limited editions has been fermented and distilled on-site by Director of Production Brendan Wheatley from select regional sugarcane syrups and molasses in copper pot stills and then barrel-aged for a distinct flavor profile.

“We want our customers to have the unique chance to experience each of these different St. Augustine Rum recipes as we refine our flagship rum,” said co-founder and CEO Philip McDaniel. “This opportunity is very unique and only available at a craft distillery like ours.”

The production facilities are located in the restored historic Ice Plant, featuring a gift shop, restaurant and bar. Large numbers of tourists flock to the facility daily for a presentation in the small theater, followed by tours of the distillery and tasting sessions every half hour. The tour ends with a visit to the gift shop.

The Ice Plant bar and restaurant are also extremely popular, offering a first-class cocktail program developed by Zach Lynch, a talented mixologist and master bartender. The restaurant menu features farm-to-table cuisine with grass-fed beef and burgers, local seafood and vegetarian options among the daily specials.

The St. Augustine Distillery is open for tours Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm, and Sunday from 11am to 6pm. The restaurant is open seven days a week for dinner from 5 to 10pm, and lunch from 11:30am to 2:30pm Monday through Friday. The bar is open from 11:30am to midnight on Sunday and Monday, until 2am the rest of the week. Call 904-825-4962 or visit the web site.

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