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Spirits Masters

Rum delights in record haul

Patience Gould reviews proceedings at this year’s Rum Masters event, a pleasurable task for the judges that resulted in a record number of Master and Gold awards

THE RESULTS speak for themselves. There were Masters and Gold awards aplenty and the tasting itself unveiled the true wonders of rum – both in terms of its diversity but more importantly in terms of quality as well. The calibre of the 50-plus rums we tasted was such that the judges were oft’ rendered speechless as we sipped and swilled with growing delight.

Consider some of the tasting notes: “Gorgeous, round and fruity – no burn”; “Lovely, warm, easy on the palate – it’s a by-the-fire rum”; “Sleek and sexy”; or try “Very good. Great, in fact. Beautiful in the mouth”. And so the superlatives went on and on. In three years of the Masters no other category has achieved such acclamation and such high marks across the classes.

At the end of the day we had awarded 14 Masters and 17 Golds – across 11 classes ranging from Overproof White Rum to Spiced Rum. Such was the standard that in four classes – Gold Over 12 Years, Dark 8-12 Years, Dark Over 12 Years and Super Premium – two Masters apiece were awarded, with the latter also attracting 4 Gold Medals – quite something. The Super Premium was the most hotly contested class with both Rémy Cointreau’s Mount Gay and Holey Dollar Rum Distilling Company’s Black Coin ruling the roost, and Botran Solera 1893, Admiral Rodney, Ron Santero and Mount Gilboa all collecting Gold Medals.

Arguably rum is one of the most diverse spirits categories around. The playing field in the main is the Caribbean, but encompasses the Philippines, with Tanduay Distillers picking up a Master in the Gold Over 12 Year, while the Fiji contender Holey Dollar had a good showing with a Master in the Overpoof Others class and a Gold in the Premium class. The Peruvian Ron Millonario XO picked up a Master in Gold Over 12 Years, so too the Guatemalan brand Botran in the Dark Over 12 years class, as well as a Gold in the Super Premium. Likewise, Venezuelan contender Diplomático took two Masters in the White and Dark 8-12 Years classes.

It’s interesting to note though, considering Cuba’s rum heritage, that though there was a goodly showing for Cuban rums, only Ron Santero managed a Gold, despite the likes of Havana Club entering in two classes – Dark Up to 7 years and Super Premium; and Ron Vigia 21 Year Old had to be content with Silver. It should be noted that the Dark Up to 7 Years class was the most disappointing, with none of the rums scoring even close to 80 points, unlike all the other classes, and Havana Club was the only brand to pick up an award.

Special mention must go to the CL World Brands Trinidad and Tobago rum Angostura. The T&T brand picked up a Master in Gold Up to 7 Years for its Caribbean 7 Year Old, and in the same class a Gold for its 5 Year Old. Moving up the quality ladder Angostura’s 1824 took Master in the Premium flight, while its 1919 scored a Gold. Proximo’s The Kraken, for which Angostura supplies the base spirit, was the undisputed Master in the spiced rum stakes. Deserved booty indeed!

The Rum Masters was staged at Drake & Morgan’s hugely successful bar and restaurant opening, The Folly. The judges were D&M’s Kane Brooks; the Drinks Business’ news editor and Spirits Business web editor Alan Lodge; cocktail guru Kieran O’Malley; and Patience Gould. You might ask what were our après tasting palate cleansers? Well it was beers for the boys and I had a Hendrick’s & tonic, complete with cucumber!






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