A quick post to share some photos from The Rum Lab’s 2017 California Rum Festival, recently held in San Francisco on September 8th.
A pre-show party at Pagan Idol the evening before featured Spiribam rums, and called together numerous rum industry influencers, including Foursquare Rum Distillery’s Richard Seale, Benoît Bail and Jerry Gitany of The Rum Embassy, as well as many hardcore California Tiki scene enthusiasts.
The show is traditionally broken into two time blocks: First is the Spirits Industry session, where writers, bartenders, importers, distributors, and so on can visit exhibitors in a reasonably low-key setting. During this time, I attended two sessions. The first was with Roberto Serrallés, master distiller at Puerto Rico’s Destilería Serrallés (DonQ rum). He did a fantastic job of explaining DonQ’s production process, and included some non-rum spirits in this tasting to compare and contrast with his rums. The second session was Mount Gay, hosted by national brand ambassador Dominic Alling.
During the general session, Richard Seale and Lost Spirits’ Bryan Davis both hosted sessions that I unfortunately missed – “Understanding Rum” and “Rum in the 21st Century”, respectively.. A highlight for many attendees was “Martin Cate’s Private Selection Experience,” where attendees purchased tokens to taste some of Martin’s “ultra-rare and unique rum expressions.” I spotted some Samaroli, Silver Seal, and Plantation rums among the mix. A portion of the proceeds went to Operation Helping People, a Bay Area group focused on youth mentoring.
While I was already familiar with all the rum lines presenting, the festival still held the occasional surprise. An upcoming second edition Real McCoy Limited Edition got my attention, as well as the very healthy selection of Spiribam (Rhum Clément, Rhum J.M, and St. Lucia Distillers) expressions on offer.
The following day, Benoît and Jerry, along with Suzanne Long (former owner of Oakland’s recently shuttered Longitude, and founder of The Rum Academy), hosted a fantastic session on rhum agricole. I missed this session but had taken part in a version two days earlier in Seattle. From talking with folks afterward, some amazing, ultra-high-end expressions were tasted. (I admit, I’m jealous now.)
Like prior California Rum Festivals, the 2017 edition was great fun. Lots of superb rums to be tried, and even better, a great get together with the global rum family. I can’t wait for the 2018 show!