The Consumer Rum Judge Competition and Awards

the annual blind tasting and judging event

The Consumer Rum Jury Competition

The Rum Jury Competition is a subset of the prestigious RumXP competition.

The members of the International Rum Expert Panel are seasoned judges who participate in international rum tasting competitions around the globe. Their RumXP awards are among the most prestigious accolades in the spirits business.Rum Jury Competition

At the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival in April, RumXP leader Robert Burr organizes the Rum Jury to evaluate consumer preferences and trends in the rum category.

These qualified consumer judges were presented with an array of blind tasting samples to evaluate using the same strict standards and procedures employed by the international rum experts in their competition.

The results of the Rum Jury Competition — the Consumer Rum Jury Awards — were shared with rum producers, distillers, importers and distributors. Consumer rum tasting awards were issued to the top rated spirits as judged by members of the consumer rum jury.

 

Bill Carney

Bill CarneyAfter a wonderful experience on the 2016 Rum Renaissance Caribbean Cruise with the Burrs, an invitation to participate in the Consumer Rum Jury was gladly accepted. For my honeymoon we took a cruise in the Caribbean, and during a stop in Barbados we toured Mt. Gay’s Visitor Center.  I was never really a spirits drinker, but after a couple of samples I was completely hooked.  Rum moved me in a way no other spirit had. Other than being a consumer I’m not involved in rum in any way, except perhaps acting as a missionary bringing this spirit to my non-rum drinking friends. I’m a beginning collector, as up until recently I was a buy-it-and-try-it kind of person. I did have a bottle of Mt. Gay’s Tricentennial Selection purchased a very long time ago, but it was opened at the birth of my children and shared with their godparents. My recently acquired English Harbour 1981 likely won’t be opened until I have grandchildren. I’ve been enjoying Don Q  Gran Añejo, Flor de Caña Centenario 12, and Plantation XO 20yr Anniversary lately. Typically I gravitate towards the slightly sweeter rums of Central America, but after recently visiting St. Lucia Distillers and Mt. Gay I’ve also been re-introducing myself to their expressions again. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of rhum agricole, but I respect its position in the universe of rum. I’ve been to a few good distilleries including Bacardi, St. Lucia Distillers (3 times), Antigua Distillery, St. Nicholas Abby, and Mt. Gay (Distillery 1x, Visitor Center tour 2x).  I’m planning on visiting some in Belize next. My blog has a little rum-related content there, but mostly drink recipes and my travel notes. http://blog.billcarney.com

Jennifer Essex

Jennifer EssexI’ve been a fan of the tiki aesthetic since my first visit to Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room when I was a child, then when Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge in Alameda in 2006, I lived less than a mile away and found “my people.” I joined their Kill Devil Club and was the first person to drink through their rum list twice! Then when Martin Cate opened Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, I started really learning about the spirit under his tutelage. I have now tasted over 540 different rums at Smuggler’s Cove and am a “Master of the Cove” and member of the “Black Tassel Brigade,” the highest level of Smuggler’s Cove’s Rumbustion Society. I also became the in-house rum consultant/educator for Tiki Hideaway in Charlotte, North Carolina, when I moved across the country in late 2014. I generally mix cocktails with smooth white rums like Cana Brava, Don Q Cristal, and SelvaRey, amber rums such as Appleton Reserve, El Dorado 12 and Denizen Merchant Reserve. For sipping I prefer the smoother, slightly sweet rums from Central and South America, like El Dorado 21, Ron Centenario 20 and 25, Ron Zacapa, Vizcaya, Abuelo, and Ron Cartavio XO. I also enjoy uniquely flavored rums like Chairman’s Reserve Spiced, SelvaRey Cacao, and Dos Maderas 5+5. I have to admit I’m not a fan of agricole style rums, but I can tell a good one from a bad one. One of the perks of becoming a Master of the Cove at Smuggler’s Cove is going on a trip to a distillery with Martin Cate. Distileria Serralles hosted our group in Puerto Rico, which included a behind the scenes tour at the distillery in Ponce. I’ve also visited the St. George Distillery in Alameda, CA several times and hope to visit more distilleries in the near future. I recently started a blog where I discuss rum, cocktails, restaurants, and other spirit-related topics. The site is www.rumspiration.com.

Alex Sobtzak

Alex SobtzakMy wife and I have been to several rum festivals over the last ten years.  I was chosen to be a judge for the Tampa Rum Fest. Miami Rum Renaissance is our favorite. I hated beer in college. Captain & Coke became my go-to beverage for the next 10+ years. About 10 years ago, my wife surprised me with VIP tickets to the Tampa Rum Fest for my birthday. At the time, we had never been to anything like it, and didn’t know what to expect. I left with a new improved appreciation for rum. One of my favorite finds from last year’s event was the Siesta Key Spiced Rum. I also managed to get my hands on a bottle of their Beer-Barrel finish #3, which was made from a Cigar City Cherry Stout. My favorite sipping rums are Diplomatico, Vizcaya, and Ron Cartavio (another find from last year). The Vizcaya is a bit more “oaky”, and pairs well with a cigar. The Diplomatico has more of caramel sweetness that I’ll usually enjoy by itself. I’ve been to four distilleries (two moonshine and two rum). In the last year, I’ve been to the Siesta Key distillery a few times, and have even had a behind-the-scenes tour with the owner — complete with samplings of stuff he’s working on and a couple of barrels that were “in process.” Most recently, I was invited to tour the Copper Bottom distillery. It’s a brand-new distillery that just opened in Daytona. They’ve made a substantial investment in starting right, and it’s paid-off. I have over 800 friends/followers on Facebook, and they all know me to be a rum enthusiast. Many ask for recommendations, and enjoy my occasional postings about my latest discoveries.

Mario Gomez

Mario GomezI am a physician and my interest for Rum started a few years back after being introduced to Millonario XO. Since then it has been a challenge to keep up with my friends in the McAllen Rum Club, in Texas. In our meetings we taste a great variety of unique rums, and enjoy while learning about them. Also, by traveling to the Renaissance Festival yearly my enthusiasm and Rum knowledge base increased exponentially. I particularly enjoyed the offerings at the VIP bar last year. I am excited to participate at the Consumer Rum Jury this year and look forward to a great experience. The rums I keep nearby include Millonario XO, Diplomático Ambassador, Opthimus 25, Brugal Siglo de Oro, Cartavio XO and Barcelo Imperial 30, to name a few. Hopefully the list will continue to expand over the years.

Reuben Valentin

Reuben ValentinI’m a physician in Texas and part of the McAllen Rum Club with 3 other friends. My interest in rum has always been in my blood being a Puertorrican. I grew up with Bacardi and Don Q, however I did not have the financial privilege to buy more exquisite rum. I moved to McAllen 6 years ago and there I met a rum fanatic, like me, and since then we have tasted many prestigious rums. A couple drinks later the McAllen Rum Club was formed. This is our 3rd year at the Miami Rum Festival and we wanted to be more involved in the event. The Consumer Rum Tasting Jury was a perfect fit for me. I have visited all the Puerto Rican distilleries like Bacardi and Serralles, which makes Don Q. Rums that have impressed me are Millonario, Rum Del Museo, Papa Andres, Barcelo Imperial, Don Q Reserva La Familia and Facundo Paraiso. I can speak on behalf of the McAllen Rum Club that we will cherish this opportunity for years to come.

Ben Blee

Ben BleeI’m a rum enthusiast and maybe a rum ambassador but I’m not involved in the beverage industry in any way. Aside from the 2015 Rum Renaissance, the only other public rum tasting I’ve attended is First Midwest Rum Fest that was held in Louisville, KY in early December 2014. I have hosted and contributed to informal rum tastings for friends in private settings like my home and have acquired many bottles during driving trips to other states. I buy them to drink and share with friends who are interested, not to admire on a shelf. Along with enjoying rum on its own, I like experimenting with different rums and mixers, in traditional rum drinks and as substitutes for whiskey in classic cocktails like the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned. I tend to prefer aged rums but there are some younger white rums I like too. I like rum that tastes like rum but also has some complexity and character to its flavor. In other words, I like rum that stands out a little as unique but not so much that the flavor is off or strays too far from tasting like rum. Most mass-produced spiced rums don’t appeal to me but there are few spiced rums I like from smaller distilleries. I’m not a big fan of rhum agricole but as I’ve explored more rum, agricole is growing on me. I’ve visited two Bourbon distilleries in Kentucky: Markers Mark and Labrot and Graham, makers of Woodford Reserve. I participate in rating rums on the rumratings.com website under my member name, DelectaBlee. I’m also a member of the Ministry of Rum web site but participation there has been minimal. I have enjoyed participating as a judge in several Rum Jury Competition events.

Myssi Davis and Joe Horstkamp

Joe and MyssiDuring our first visit to the Miami Rum Fest last April — I noticed some of the rums had won awards, and after looking a little more closely I saw that there was a consumer award. It was interesting to see that there was an award category from the average rum enthusiast in addition to the ones from expert judges. I grew up in Maryland and moved to Florida five years ago to follow my dream of living in paradise. I work in the banking industry as a project manager and systems consultant, and also run a small cupcake business from my home called Cupcakes and Dreams. When I’m not working, I love to scuba dive and stay fit by doing Pilates and Zumba. I’ve always been a fan of rum, not just because of the way it tastes but also because of its interesting history and ties to the Caribbean. During my honeymoon to St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2005, I discovered a unique and potent local rum called Sunset Very Strong Rum which was in all of the drinks and was even poured on the french toast I had for breakfast! My husband and I had to bring a bottle back home to share with our friends, and that’s how our rum collection began. We currently have 137 kinds of rum and are continuously adding more. About a year ago, I was offered the opportunity to become a brand ambassador for Blue Chair Bay Rum. This is the best job in the world — I go to liquor stores and bars where I get to talk about rum and provide free samples to customers. I also attend industry events like Miami Rum Fest and the Hukilau to promote the brand. I enjoy flavored and spiced rums — Blue Chair Bay Coconut Spiced Rum is my favorite, and I love Koloa Kauai Coffee Rum, Pink Pigeon Vanilla Spiced Rum, and Siesta Key Spiced Rum as well. I also recently began developing a taste for older aged rums like Flor de Caña Centenario 25 and Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva. I have visited numerous distilleries: Sunset in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Old New Orleans in Louisiana, Siesta Key and St. Augustine in Florida, John Watling’s in the Bahamas, Toppers Rhum in St. Maarten, Brinley in St. Kitts, Antigua Distillers, St. Lucia Distillery, and St. Nicholas Abbey and Mount Gay in Barbados. My husband and I recently started a website, www.rumtraveler.com where we plan to share reviews and pictures of rum distilleries we visit as well as tips on interesting things to do nearby. We want to inspire people to travel to new places, try the local rums, and experience unique activities along the way. We are also on Facebook (Rum Traveler), Twitter (@RumTraveler), and Instagram (the_rum_traveler) where we share stories and pictures from our travels.

Sarah Wilkinson

Sarah WilkinsonWe learned about the Consumer Rum Jury and everything else we know about rum from watching the Burrs. I am a minor celebrity with a piratey persona. So RUM was always a question. I love ALL rums but if I have to pick one then I would say Aged rum is the category I have always loved most … but then who wouldn’t! I have a fondness for many Rums but lately I have been big on Panama and Cuba … as far as companies Plantation always wins my heart but so many others accompany them there! I have been to 2 or 3 distilleries, all in Florida. I do have a web page and “in the works” is a rum section. I talk about Rum in public formats regularly as part of my Art Career. http://www.nigelsade.com/

Marcos Chavez Paz

Marcos Chavez PazI am a physician born in Perú but working in the USA since 2005. I have always loved rum. My interest started when I tried “Appleton Estate 5 years” more than 20 years ago. It change my world opening it to aromas and flavors that I did not imagine. Of course because limited resources at that time I could not afford having a rum collection. My objective was to sip at least once “Appleton Estate 21 years.” I promised myself to buy one bottle when I graduated from Medicine School, got a nice job, pass the tests to became a doctor in USA, got into Internal Medicine, then got my specialties, approve the boards…never happen; there was always something. Years passed and I landed my first job in private practice. I was eating lunch with my wife when we saw the bottle…there it was: My dream rum in the top shelf of the store. It was the right time: I bought it and sipped slowly…Then I shared with my best friends. I could have the satisfaction of that recompense after so many years. I soon started my collection and my club. The Club has my same friends as members, friendship grew and also my collection. I am blessed to have try some of the best aged rums in the world. I got book collections about rum. It has became an obsession… I am really excited.

Rum Jury

Members of the Rum Jury are enthusiastic rum consumers who delight in the discovery of new rums, enjoy rum tasting events, love to travel to distilleries to increase their knowledge of rum production, and serve as judges in blind tasting competitions.

The annual Rum Jury Awards recognize outstanding achievement by rum producers and help track the evolving tastes, preferences and proclivities of American Rum consumers.

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Chilled Magazine Free Subscription


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