The Rum Masters 2013 Results

11th March, 2013 by Becky Paskin

Dark, golden, white, flavoured, over-proof… the categories were extensive and so were the entries at The Rum Masters 2013.

The-Rum-Masters-2013

Golden liquid delighted all at The Rum Masters 2013

When it’s freezing cold outside there’s nothing quite like warming yourself up with a rum… or 50, for that’s what The Spirits Masters judges were faced with in this year’s Rum Masters competition.

It was a daunting task, even for the most enthusiastic of rum fans – which we all were. Tasting such a vast number of sweet spirits was likely to lead to sore gums at best, and a filling or two at worst.
Still, this year’s judges were a tough bunch. They were: Kane Brooks of Drake & Morgan; Shannon McCoy of Barchick; Stuart Randall of Marquis Vodka; Tim Shanks of The Engineer in London’s Primrose Hill; Luca Cordiglieri of China Tang at The Dorchester; and myself, chairing this scurvy crew.

All pirate jokes aside, any hesitation our judges felt when presented with the first line-up of white rums at Drake & Morgan’s beautiful City bar The Drift, was soon replaced by intrigue and awe at a category that is more dynamic and varied than many would at first believe.

Take white rum for instance. A bar rail staple of course, but with eight to taste, the nuances of each rum and its intended use became clear. Some were obviously created for particular cocktails, such as Mojitos or Daiquiris, but at least one was identified as being suitable as a sipping rum.

“The white rum I scored the highest stood out for me because I could sip it on its own,” explained Cordiglieri, referring to Havana Club 3YO that was eventually awarded a Gold. “With white rum you have to find one that is versatile enough for mixing, but also works on its own.”

Moving on to the golden rums, first up was a selection of seven, all aged under seven years. A respectable turn-out for a category of affordable yet premium rums that impressed the judges with their balance and more caramelised notes. Here we were slipping into sipping rum territory yet one or two were noted for their potential in cocktails.

Judges The Rum Masters

The Rum Masters2013 Judges left-right: Stuart Randall, Marquis Vodka; Luca Cordiglieri, China Tang at The Dorchester; Becky Paskin, The Spirits Business; Shannon McCoy, Barchick; Tim Shanks, The Engineer; Kane Brooks, Drake & Morgan.

By the time we arrived at the older golden rums – aged 8-12 years, and over 12 years – we were beginning to see the spirit at its ultimate best. Across these two rounds five Masters were awarded out of five entries. These were undoubtedly our favourite rounds and the best performing of the day. Every rum in both categories impressed all the judges who unanimously noted their rich, velvety texture and long finishes, indicative of a well-balanced rum with just the right amount of time spent in barrel. “Some of the older gold rums were beautiful,” exclaimed Randall.

After such a climax so early in the day’s judging duties – we were not even halfway through, the remaining rounds had a job to stand up to such quality and taste. That’s not to say they failed, mind you. The following three rounds of dark rum – aged under seven, 8-12 years and over 12 years – produced a satisfying set of results from a noticeably more caramelised and toasted selection. A Master was awarded in the over 12 years category to Plantation Trinidad 1989 from Cognac Ferrand, while every other dark rum in the competition was awarded a Gold medal, with the exception of two Silvers. 34 down, 22 to go.

Angostura Caribbean Rum 1919 was the only entry in the Premium category to win a Master, just eclipsing its 1824 sister rum,which won a Gold, by a few points. It was then on to the Super Premium category – the round the judges were all waiting for. Despite the prospect of some spectacular tasting – and spectacularly priced – rums, just two Masters were given out. One for Colombian entry La Hechicera that was unanimously praised by judges for its slightly spiced, yet balanced flavour, and the other for English Harbour 1981 Vintage from Antigua Distiller, which Brooks described as delivering a “great mouth feel”.

The Rum Masters judges

Shannon McCoy considers the aroma of a dark rum entry, while Luca Cordiglieri and Kane Brooks don’t let the size of the category daunt them

Rhum Agricole was a tricky category as this style of provincial rums is so different from others judged previously. All had a vegetal quality that surprised the judges after five hours of tasting sweet, caramel rums, but once their palates had a chance to settle down and become accustomed to the pungent aroma and favour, three Golds were awarded. Just two rounds were left until the end, both of which had the ability to tear  apart the judge’s palates.

The flavoured rum round featured three spiced products and one coconut flavoured rum. While all four were interesting, the judges found that three of them were far too sweet. “We only gave one Gold medal [to Sailor Jerry] in this round because the sugar content was just too high,” Shanks complained. “It’s an easy win to load it with sugar but you lose the delicacy and flavour of the whole thing which for me makes a good quality rum.” Last but not least – even after such a gruelling day – were the overproofs, guaranteed to liven up jaded palates a little. There were a couple of lovely tasting entries here, which surprised some of the judges who were expecting to be put off by high alcohol strengths. “It’s a big achievement to produce an overproof rum that’s tasty, and I found one in that category I liked,” said McCoy.

In the end it was a record haul of medals for The Rum Masters, which proved to our motley judging crew how versatile the category can be. “Overall I would be happy drinking 75% of all rums tasted; I think that there was a huge amount of quality product,” exclaimed Brooks. “It would be easy to say the over 12-year-old age group was my favourite, but I think the biggest thing to take away for me was to remember that your rail spirits are so important. “The discussions around using different blancos for different cocktails was probably my highlight. It’s an area that is so often overlooked, but of course you should have a different rum for your Mai Tais, Mojitos and Daiquiris. “How great the industry is now and how much fun it is to have such a variety at your disposal – it hasn’t always been that way. New industry professionals are exposed to so much more product these days.”

The full list of The Rum Masters 2013 results are on the following page.

2 Responses to “The Rum Masters 2013 Results”

  1. Alejandro González says:

    I find it very pleasing to note that a brand so little known by connoisseurs outside Cuba, such as Ron Santiago de Cuba, has taken place in this tasting and praised its exquisite quality. Not to be common to take account of Cuban rums, I like very much to find that someone appreciates the quality that has Cuban rum industry.

  2. UpSpirits says:

    Pussers Rum Circa 1655 — since the days of wooden ships and iron men!

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