From a no-nonsense rum producer, the Mezan XO Jamaica blend is a delightful and approachable expression that faithfully reflects the characteristics of the island’s venerable boutique distilleries.
Each release is a blend of casks from various stills in Jamaica, artfully combined for complexity and balance in small batches of 5000 bottles. The blend contains a base of light and medium ester rums that may have originated at the legacy distilleries of Clarendon, Worthy Park, Long Pond and Hampden Estate, further aged together in oak casks to marry the components, without any additives, coloring or chill filtering.
Mezan XO Jamaica Tasting Notes
The pale straw color is your first clue that the rum remains unadulterated. Aromas of funky banana, juicy fruit, and old wood lead to a suggestion of baking spice, earthy musk and burnt sugar. On the palate, green banana and bitter almond precede cigar box over spiced cake before the funky notes of mixed ripe fruit decay in the medium long finish.
Mezan Extra Old Jamaica blended aged rum delivers an affordable and accessible boutique rum experience. Taste it neat to step back in time and experience old Jamaica, or use it in cocktails like the Mai Tai and Jamaican Mule to bring that distinctly pungent and funky cool island vibe to mixed drinks.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Among the best spiced rums on the market, and winner of many top awards, Brinley Gold Shipwreck Spiced Rum is a four year old Guyanese molasses rum, aged in charred American oak barrels, expertly blended with real Madagascar Vanilla, Grenada Nutmeg, orange peel and clove.
At their production facility on the island of Saint Kitts in the Eastern Caribbean, each small batch is infused for two weeks to extract maximum botanical flavors from the exotic ingredients, before being expertly blended by seasoned professionals.
Shipwreck Spiced Rum Tasting Notes
Aromas of creamy vanilla with nutmeg and orange rind lead to clove and mild honey. On the palate, the sensation of bold vanilla delivers a base of creamy smoothness for the nutmeg and clove, balanced by orange peel at mid-palate.
The result is a best-in-class hand-crafted spiced rum that mixes perfectly with your favorite cola, ginger beer, fruit juices and citrus.
The Hidden Label Message
When you’ve finished the bottle, look for the hand-written message inside the label, dedicated to those aboard the British Troopship sank by the French Navy off the coast of St Kitts in 1782.
On the west coast of Australia, the boutique family-run Kimberly Rum Company produces CaneFire No. 5 Aged Rum, a blend of two distinct marques.
The first, dubbed Rohans’ Reserve, is a low cut high ester rum with a double run through the still, focusing heavily on character and deep flavor. The second, known as Annual Reserve, is triple distilled with few residual esters, resulting in a very light bodied zesty rum.
The blend of these two styles of rum in just the right balance is the key to the consistency of CaneFire 5 Year Old Rum.
The CaneFire No. 5 Process
Starting with raw, unrefined, first-quality Australian sugar, the process is started with a heat tolerant slow acting yeast that gently ferments over a long 40 day cycle.
CaneFire 5 Year Old Rum is distilled in a custom built 1000 liter stainless steel Australian still. The distillate is then aged in oak from Australian wineries, including sherry and French oak ex-shiraz barrels, for at least five years.
CaneFire No. 5 Tasting Notes
Aromas of cinnamon, baking spices and shortbread cookie over an earthy base are accented by a floral note, perhaps lavender. On the palate, the earthy mineral notes are balanced by spicy sassafras root and sweet nectar before a woody bitterness is revealed mid-palate for fine balance. Wood notes linger in the medium long finish.
CaneFire 5 Year Old Rum from Australia is an un-dosed dry rum which suits the Australian palette with its deep rich character. It stands up to bold ingredients in rum cocktails, goes especially well with cola, and plays well in a tumbler on the rocks along with a garnish of fresh orange peel.
Bottled at 40%, CaneFire No. 5 sells for $119 in Australia, equivalent to about $85 in the USA.
Bottled at 55% abv, Cashcane Saloon Cask aged rum is a blend of molasses-based spirits from Barbados, Trinidad and Panama, aged for six to eight years.
Each of the components lends a unique character to the blend, and the slightly elevated proof presents a bold expression reminiscent of cask strength American Bourbon. A small sip delivers big flavor.
Cashcane Saloon Cask Tasting Notes
Mild aromas of butter cookie and vanilla lead to toasted oak and some spices. On the palate, pencil shavings and vanilla, toasted oak and some subtle sweetness precede a slightly bitter cocoa that balances well. Ripe butter and cedar linger in the finish.
In a tumbler with good ice, Cashcane Saloon Cask is a fine sipper. In classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned or Manhattan, it plays through well with potent, well balanced rum flavor that compliments the other ingredients.
Cashcane Saloon Cask blended aged rum in the 750ml bottle sells for about $49.
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 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.
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 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.
Bones Aged Rum is a small batch pot still rum aged in both French and American oak barrels, as well as Sherry Casks, for a minimum of six years.
Playing on the pirate-age sailor’s theme, the company likes to say this is “smooth rum for the rough seas.”
Aromas of oak and vanilla dominate the nose, with trailing hints of burnt sugar, almond and light banana. On the palate, brown sugar leads to bold vanilla, cherry-almond and baking spices over toasted oak before hints of bitter cocoa.
Bones aged rum from the Virgin Islands is an easy sipper with a few good ice cubes, and brings some rich rum flavor to your favorite tropical cocktails.
When visiting the Bones Rum store in Saint Thomas, check out the very popular “Pour Your Own Rum” bar on the Charlotte Amalie waterfront.
Bones Aged Rum is available at popular liquor stores in at least twelve states and several online outlets.
The 750ml bottle, at 40% abv, sells for about $29.
Rum Enthusiasts are gearing up for the annual Rum Renaissance Caribbean Cruise through the Eastern Caribbean islands featuring VIP rum tours of iconic distilleries. This Caribbean Rum Cruise adventure sails from Fort Lauderdale on Monday, November 19 for 11 days, with an itinerary that includes Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, St Lucia, Grenada, Barbados and Antigua.
Leading the VIP rum tours are veteran rum writers, collectors and hosts of the Rum Renaissance Festival Robert and Robin Burr.
A modern cruise ship is the ideal resort for an Eastern Caribbean rum adventure.
VIP Distillery Tours
“We’ve inviting our rum friends to join us during the Thanksgiving holiday season as we explore some of the best and most interesting rum production facilities in the world,” said Robert Burr. “We’ll go behind the scenes to see how rum is produced by Don Q Rum, Brinley Shipwreck Rum, St. Lucia Distillery, River Antoine, Clarke’s Court, St. Nicholas Abbey, Mount Gay, West Indies Distillery and Antigua Distillery before returning to Fort Lauderdale for an optional visit to South Florida Distilleries.”
The classic copper pot stills at Mount Gay distillery in Barbados
The Caribbean Rum Cruise is an ideal way to visit many islands without the hassles associated with airports, security and strict limitations on luggage imposed by airlines. “We don’t go through customs and immigration when leaving the ship each day at our island destinations. It’s so easy to discover rum and collect our favorites along the way.”
Rum Cruisers enjoy the tasting room at St. Nicholas Abbey
In addition to distillery tours, rum cruise passenger will visit Caribbean rum shops to peruse the myriad selection of rums of the Caribbean available for bargain prices.
Caribbean Rum Cruise Details
The 11 day Caribbean Rum Cruise begins and ends in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, celebrating Thanksgiving Day in Puerto Rico.
Travel agent Deb Fogarty of Be Well Travel is handling all the details aboard the ship. The land tours are organized by Robert and Robin Burr, who have extensive experience with distillery tours around the world. “We look forward to sharing our knowledge, our enthusiasm and our appreciation of rum while introducing our friends to the people that make the some of the finest rums in the Caribbean.”
legendary copper pot stills at St. Lucia Distillery
From the world’s largest rum producer, Tanduay Gold Asian Rum is a prime example of a high quality cane spirit well aged and blended with the intent to be accessible.
Since its arrival in the USA in 2013, Tanduay Gold has been recognized in numerous tasting competitions as a product of outstanding merit, including a Gold Award at the 2018 RumXP Tasting Competition at the Rum Renaissance Festival.
Tanduay has been producing rum in The Philippines since 1854, using legacy heirloom cane varieties. This rum is a blend of distillates aged up to seven years in Kentucky Bourbon barrels, designed to be enjoyed neat, on the rocks or as a superior component in well-crafted cocktails.
From the world’s largest rum producer, Tanduay Gold Asian Rum is a prime example of a high quality and accessible aged cane spirit.
Initial aromas of cedar and dried fruits are followed by hints of caramel and vanilla. On the palate, warm dry smoked honey and vanilla leads to buttery almond fruit pastry and floral notes, before a beautiful warm finish lingers with echos of toasted oak and cigar box much longer than expected.
Tanduay succeeds at delivering a fine aged rum for a competitive price. The 750ml bottle of Tanduay Gold Asian Rum, bottled at 80 proof, retails for $19.
Tanduay distinguished their brand by shipping product to a vast network of destinations throughout Asia. The company was acquired by Lucio Tan Group in 1988 paving the way for global growth — expanding into The Americas and Europe — to become the world’s largest producer of rum.
The event brought together a vast selection of rums from the Caribbean and beyond, plus a fine selection of American Rums made by craft producers from across the country.
The distinguished International Rum Expert Panel (RumXP) judges were sequestered for three days of blind tasting sessions carefully organized by the experienced competition staff before being analyzed and compiled by a veteran team of statisticians.
In addition, the Consumer Rum Jury, consisting of serious rum enthusiasts from across America and around the world, convened to sample and evaluate many fine rums for their own awards based on consumer preferences.
Based on the strict standards of the prestigious International Rum Expert Panel, the results of these two international rum blind tasting competitions, consisting of more than 200 rum expressions, are as follows.
2018 RumXP Awards
Tanduay Silver – Best In Class
Caneland Parade – Gold Casa Magdalena Ron Blanco – Gold Real McCoy 3 – Gold Plantation 3 Stars – Gold Nine Leaves Clear – Gold
Rhum Agricole Blanc
LaMauny Acacia – Best In Class Trois Rivières 50% Blanc – Gold LaKay Clairin 22/22 – Gold Trois Rivières Cuvée de Ocean – Gold Caneland Rum Agricole – Gold
White Overproof Rum
Monymusk White Overproof – Gold
Brinley Spiced – Best In Class Black Magic Spiced – Gold Muddy River Carolina Spiced – Gold Carmelita’s Spiced Orange – Gold
Koloa Coffee – Best In Class Alligator Bay Dark – Gold Boqueron Coconut – Gold Ziami Grapefruit – Gold Brinley Lime – Gold Brinley Coconut Cream – Gold Wicked Dolphin Hidden Barrel Maple – Gold
Boutique Aged Rum
Florida Mermaid – Best In Class Queen Charlotte’s Reserve – Gold Islamorada Small Batch Dark Barrel Aged – Gold Koloa Reserve – Gold Prichard’s Fine – Gold Maggie’s Farm Queen Share Double Oak – Gold
Boutique Dark Rum
Naked in Jamaica – Gold Maggie’s Farm 50/50 Dark Rum – Gold
Overproof Aged Rum
Plantation OFTD – Best In Class
Traditional Aged Rum
Monymusk Gold – Best In Class Mezan Guyana 2005 – Gold Mezan Panama 2006 – Gold Grander 12 – Gold Tanduay Gold – Gold Real McCoy 5 – Gold
Premium Aged Rum
Real McCoy 12 – Best In Class Mount Gay 1703 – Gold Plantation Xaymaca – Gold Plantation Fiji 2009 – Gold Plantation Peru – Gold Mount Gay XO – Gold
Rhum Agricole Aged
Trois Rivières VSOP – Best In Class Trois Rivières Cuvée de Moulin – Gold LaMauny VSOP – Gold Trois Rivières Eleve Sous Bois – Gold
2018 Consumer Rum Jury Awards
The Consumer Rum Jury consists of serious rum enthusiasts, rum collectors and rum travelers who enjoy the discovery of rums in all categories.
Casa Magdalena Ron Blanco – Gold Cane Run – Gold
Naked in Jamaica – Gold Maggie’s Farm 50/50 Dark – Gold
Dos Maderas 5 + 5 – Gold Plantation XO – Gold Mount Gay XO – Gold Dzama Cuvée Noire – Gold Diplomatico #2 – Gold Mount Gay 1703 – Gold
Brinley Spiced – Gold Carmelita’s Dark Spiced – Gold Black Magic – Gold
The world’s best rum tasting event features more than 50 vendors sampling more than 200 rums from the Caribbean and beyond, celebrating the continued renaissance of rum.
In addition to all the rum brands on exhibit, the Grand Tasting Bar features a wide assortment of rums selected by the editors of Robs Rum Guide. The VIP Tasting Bar offers samples of rare, limited edition, luxury and collectible rums.
This notable rum tasting event also features a number of master classes and interactive seminars, live entertainment and a tasting competition. Rum Experts from around the world are bringing their knowledge and expertise to share with attendees.
Make Plans Now for Rum Fest
Robert and Robin Burr, hosts of the 2018 Rum Renaissance Festival, invite one and all to enjoy this unique opportunity to taste, discover and learn more about the best rums in the world in an informative, enlightening and entertaining space.
Enjoy your favorite rums and be the first to see some new expressions. Learn more about rum at the enlightening seminars while meeting up with all your rum enthusiast friends at the Rum Renaissance Festival on the weekend of June 9-10.
Attention rum consumers, collectors and fanatics: mark your calendars for Thursday, May 17 in Fort Lauderdale to experience the Great Rum Challenge interactive tasting seminar. It’s a wonderful and enlightening experience for those that know their rums — and for those that want to learn more about the best rums available from these Caribbean countries.
can you discern the aromas and subtle qualities of fine aged rums?
Starting at 7pm at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina Resort, your rum host presents a number of outstanding rums from the Caribbean with expert advice and commentary on the various styles, methods and variations.
Seven exceptional rums will be presented with insight into the production, aging and blending of each expression.
The Nose Knows
Participants in The Great Rum Challenge are invited to discern the aromas and flavor profiles of the various rums from different countries, created in various styles, looking for unique characteristics and differentiators which define their styles.
During the blind tasting session, attendees try to match each rum sample with its corresponding product on display.
The May 4th hotel deadline to reserve rooms at the Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Marina Resort for the 2018 Rum Renaissance Festival — held June 9-10 at the Greater Ft. Lauderdale / Broward County Convention Center — is fast approaching.
You can also call 1-800-Hiltons, or 1-800-445-8667.
This modern waterfront resort is only steps away from the big rum festival, offering comfortable rooms, great amenities, and a fabulous location near world famous Ft. Lauderdale Beach, in close proximity to a plethora of fantastic shops, stores, bars and restaurants.
$119 Rate Good Until May 4
The good news is, rooms at the Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Marina Resort are only $119 a night, if reserved before the deadline of May 4th, 2018. Act now to ensure you get the best rate — before the hotel is sold out — for the tenth annual Rum Renaissance Festival.
Located directly on the waterfront at Ft. Lauderdale Marine, the Hilton Resort is the ideal location for guests attending the tenth annual Rum Renaissance Festival next door.
A First Class Resort
Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina is a stunning resort where guest rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows delivering amazing views of downtown, the Intracoastal Waterway or the bustling Fort Lauderdale marine port.
The property features a variety of delightful dining options. Enjoy Antea morning noon and night. Unwind on the pool deck at The G and gaze out at mega-yachts while you dine and drink. Choose the charming Waterway Room with its open views and walls of glass overlooking the sparkling blue Intracoastal Waterway.
Perfect Location For The Rum Festival
A short walk from the resort beneath the majestic 17th Street Bridge delivers you to the entrance of the fabulous Ft. Lauderdale Convention Center, home of the tenth annual Rum Renaissance Festival. A number of alternate hotel options are available in the neighborhood, but none are more convenient than the Hilton.
From the waterfront dock of the Hilton Marina, take the Ft. Lauderdale Water Taxi to dozens of great locations along the inter-coastal waterway without venturing in street traffic, and without renting a car. The hotel also offers a complimentary guest shuttle to Fort Lauderdale Beach.
The address of the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina Resort is 1881 SE 17th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316.
Discounted Rum Festival Tickets
Discounted tickets to the tenth annual Rum Renaissance Festival are available online before June 1 for $50 a day, which includes complimentary samples of hundreds of fine rums.
The world’s biggest rum tasting event also features a number of master classes and interactive seminars, live entertainment and a tasting competition. The VIP Tasting Bar offers samples of rare, limited edition luxury rums for connoisseurs.
This event attracts rum enthusiasts and professionals from around the world, as well as local consumers and members of the trade.
A unique opportunity to taste and discover many fine rums under one roof.
Robert and Robin Burr, hosts of the Rum Renaissance Festival, invite one and all to enjoy this unique opportunity to taste, discover and learn more about the best rums in the world in an informative, enlightening and entertaining space.
The Real McCoy 10 Year Old Limited Edition Virgin Oak Aged Rum is a robust expression from Barbados offering exquisite complexity.
True to it’s namesake, this iconic brand hearkens the days of prohibition-era rum running when Bill McCoy refused to compromise on quality. Only 3,000 bottles of this micro-batch have been released.
The Real McCoy 10 Year Old Limited Edition Virgin Oak Rum is a robust expression from Barbados created by blending rums aged in both Bourbon and Virgin American Oak casks.
Crafted at Foursquare Distillery, this expression relies on a higher percentage of copper pot still distillate for a richer flavor profile. Two batches are aged separately. The first spends twelve years in used Bourbon barrels. The second, ages ten years in virgin American oak casks.
Carefully blended to balance flavors, the result is bottled at a hardy 92 proof, an example of the authentic style of fine aged rum that made Barbados famous the world over.
Aromas of ripe banana, toasted butter pecan, big oak and vanilla are accented by a funky fruit. On the palate, brown butter over charred oak brings vanilla, toasted almond and tart dried fruit with a suggestion of burnt sugar. The finish offers long lasting notes of dark buttered toast and plenty of oak.
Quality and Value
The Real McCoy 10 Year Old Limited Edition Virgin Oak Rum appeals to connoisseurs, while remaining accessible to all spirit enthusiasts who appreciate small-batch quality and good value.
The event is known for attracting high quality speakers to share knowledge and insight with attendees into the realms of rum production, expert tasting and evaluation, international marketing, rum cocktails and more.
Rum Renaissance Seminars
Two seminar classrooms at the Grand Tasting Event can accommodate about 80 participants each. Reserved seating is available for $20 at the festival, or $15 in advance.