Awards recognise the best rums and rum makers


gorda diplomaticoVirgin Gorda – a blend of rums from Trinidad, Jamaica and Barbados – has been named boutique rum of the year in the annual Golden Rum Barrel Awards.

It was selected from the rums on show at Boutique Rum Fest, held as part of Rumfest in London on October 12 and 13. Other winners at the awards included the makers of Diplomático rum.

Virgin Gorda is part of the portfolio of The Poshmakers, the team behind Ish Gin, and distributed in the UK by 10 Degrees C. It is a blend of rums aged for an average of five years and up to eight years.

The Golden Rum Barrel Awards named Destilerias Unidas in Venezuela, producers of Ron Diplomático, as rum distillery of the year, and Diplomático’s Tito Cordero as master blender of the year.

Tito was praised for “both his depth of experience and for producing what is, arguably, the finest and most consistent rum with his Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva blend”. His rums are distributed in the UK by Speciality Brands.

This year’s awards paid homage to a handful of industry luminaries who became the first batch of inductees into the new Rum Experience Hall Of Fame.

Master blender Lorena Vásquez Ampié was inducted for her dedication to the promotion of Guatemalan rums, particularly Ron Zacapa, to a new and discerning rum clientele.

Another inductee was Jose Sanchez Gavito who has been a master blender for over 36 years and has been pushing the boundaries for new rum throughout his career. After retiring from making rum in Mexico for Bacardi, Jose joined the Bacardi global team to create a new wave of “retro rums” such as the Bacardi Heritage edition, which has broken new ground and re-introduced Bacardi rum to the cocktail world.

The Hall of Fame added Laurie Barnard, chairman of St Lucia Distillers, who was seen by many as one of the greatest rum makers of his generation, with ambitions for Caribbean rum to be seen as the great spirit worldwide. Although he passed away in October 2012, his legacy lives on through his rums such as Chairman’s Reserve and Elements 8.

Master distiller Richard Seale, a third-generation rum maker, was awarded for constantly proving that “rum innovation is rum tradition waiting to happen”.

Another inductee was Francisco Don Pancho Fernandez, a pioneering master blender who has been involved for over 50 years in making Spanish-styled rum. During the 1970s as director of the Cuban Beverage Industry, he helped in the renovation process of the rum industry in Cuba, introducing modern technology, renovating the cask inventories and modernising the plants and distilleries.

He also helped to improve fermentation, production and blending techniques that set the standard worldwide. He has continued to create great rums such as Zafra 21, Ron Abuelo and Ron de Jeremy.

The award for best blogger of the year went to A Mountain of Crushed Ice at www.amountainofcrushedice.com.

Ian Burrell, global rum ambassador and organiser of Rumfest and the awards, said: “This year’s Golden Rum Barrel Awards pay tribute to the pioneers within the industry. Rum’s rising popularity throughout the world can be attributed to many of these esteemed individuals or brands and we are thrilled to announce such an incredible range of distillers, master blenders, ambassadors and rum blends from all over the world.”

He also confirmed that UK Rumfest would return in 2014 after selling out this year with 7,000 people visiting the show at London Excel over the two days.

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