Amsterdam Rum Festival 2017

27 May 2017 – Tobacco Theatre

Finally, the Dutch have their ‘Rum only’ festival, and where better to organize it then in the capital? Close to other known Dutch brands like Bols, van Wees and of course the Heineken brewery. Though for rum’s sake, let’s not forget the rum merchants of the world – E&A Scheer, whom are also based – already over three centuries – in Amsterdam.

Back to the Amsterdam Rum Festival. I had the pleasure to meet the founder over coffee and discuss our rum passion, the Dutch appetite in the spirit as to the ambition of Club Rum to organize a rum only festival. And that in a country where, in general at the spirit festivals, rum has to share a spot with the Whisky community.

Happy to share with you some thoughts of Gianni, about his drive and passion to promote rum.

Tell us, who and/or what is Club Rum?

Club Rum is the first rum festival in The Netherlands and taking place on the 27th May in Amsterdam. Club Rum was founded on the fact that in a small country like the Netherlands there is so much exposure for other spirits/ drinks and not for rum. We hope to change that through this festival and hopefully ignite a “rum revolution”.

The idea for a rum festival in the Netherlands initiated over 7 years ago, why only now – time is right?

That is correct. We have seen an increase in demand for (premium) rum in the past years. Quite a few Dutch (whisky) bottlers have also released great bottles of rum. So we do think that now is the right time to launch a rum festival.

Kuddos for organizing the first ever “rum only” festival in the Netherlands, what are your hopes and expectations?

Thank you very much! Like we mentioned before our goal is to create greater awareness on this very versatile spirit. Hopefully the Dutch (consumers and companies) appreciate this which leads to an annual festival celebrating rum.

Some sneak peak on the rum line-up and which one are you most proud of to be there?

Well, 75 brands will be showcased so it is difficult to pick one out. But check out our site for an overview of all the brands. What we are most proud of is having the independent Italian Bottler Velier as an exhibitor as well as the Agricole Tour showcasing 16 brands.

Rum Festivals are not only about tasting at the different booths, what else is on the menu?

Correct. We, of course, have great cocktails and food for those who want to take “a break” from sampling. Furthermore cigar aficionados have the opportunity to buy and light up premium cigars. And last but not least we will end each session with a musical “bang”.

I wanna go – where can I find the details and reserve a ticket?

All details are available at and you will also find a link to purchase your tickets.

Club Rum Festival

Club Rum

XR BarlifeRumfest 2015

23 May 2015 – Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is one of the most beautiful and historic cities in Europe. Tourists come and go 365 days a year. A city with a good food appetite, beer culture and Rum festival. This coming weekend, the second edition of the XR Barlife Rumfest will take place. What to expect? See here below a short interview with Managing Director Martin Kraut.

In general, there’s a growing market for (premium) rum in Europe (notably Germany, Denmark). Is the demand for quality premium rum also increasing in the Czech Republic?

Yes it is. Consumption of imported cane rums in the Czech Republic in 2014 compared to 2013 increased by 16.3%. In 2002 the Czech Republic has sold 35,000 9LC of imported rums. In 2011 it was already 168,000 9LC and the latest figures for last year talking about 241 000. Market leaders in the Standard category Imported rum – Havana Club Añejo Blanco with an increase of 19.2%, in the category of Super Premium Imported Dark Rum Zacapa Centenario 23 mark with an increase of 50% and category Premium – Legendario rum with 66.7%. Bestsellers for us, Captain Morgan Spiced, but that the legislation falls into a specific category of flavored spirits.

Which rums are present this year and with which one are you most proud its part of the line-up?

Here is the list of rums I am looking forward to sample Papá Andrés 2015 Alegría Edition and I am a fan of agricole rums so there are also some great rums on the list.

What’s this year’s special feature of the XR Rum Fest?

Rumfest by Barlife 2015 will present more than 150 rums to taste. Full day of seminars. Among others there is Michelin star chef Miguel Inella with Flor de Cana fingerfood pairing, Asbel Morales will introduce Havana Cohiba – new brand in Havana portfolio. Ian Burrell with his two seminars about Rum myths and History of rum cocktails.

What is your drive and/or mission to organize the XR Rum Fest?

The mission is hand in hand with our Barlife magazine objective. We are educating over 11 years Czech professionals and also nonprofessionals about premium spirits and bar culture.

Rum Fest is not only about tasting, what else is on the programme?

As mentioned earlier, the full list of seminars, and also we have Barlife bar academy there so people can learn how to make perfect rum cocktails, there is authentic Cuban music band, food court with South America and Caribbean kitchen.

For an impression of the XR Barlife Rumfest 2013, click here. Come and join Rumfest by Barlife, and for late night or next day cocktails, you have to try the specials at Hemingway Bar.

Rum Fest Praha_04

Rum Fest Praha_06

Rum Fest Praha_07

Rum Fest Praha_03

2nd Congreso Internacional de Destilados

13-15 of May – Isla Margarita, Venezuela

Back again for a new showdown is the Congreso Internacional de Destilados (CID), organized by Se7en Bar and powered by the Bartender Association of Venezuela (ABV), and the International Bartenders Association (IBA). Location is the beautiful island of Margarita, where the organizers offer participants a carefully crafted program from May 4-16 at Venetur Hotel. This time the programming included the IBA TRAINER curriculum, from 5 to May 13. An elite course of the International Bartender Association. Congress participants received an International Certificate, endorsed by the University of Rum and the International Bartender Association.

The line-up included international speakers from Italy, Spain, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico, Peru and Colombia, along with distinguished representatives of the domestic industry. With for instance Haile Acosta, Sales Director Destileria Veroes e Industrias Bravo disclosed that Venezuelan rum is more than just a tale. Rosanna di Turi, Venezuelan editor, including for the paper El Nacional shared her views on the ‘USPs’ of Venezuelan rums and Andres Chumaceiro, Directos Public Affairs at Santa Teresa will provided some insights about developing and promoting Santa Teresa brand. What’s so unique about CID is the blend between spirits and gastronomy. The workshop “Cooking with Spirits”, is a good example, through promoting local products – through the preparation of dishes with these ingredients and promote youth interest in the use of distillates in their culinary creations. For an impression of the CID II, click here.

Sad you missed the opportunity to be there? Mark your calendar 15-21 May 2016 the CID III will be hosted in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.

CID2015 2_01




Colombian Guinness World Record

29 September 2014, La Cata de Ron

In the beautiful historic coastal town Cartagena, over 400 people attended the attempt, though 313 people were counted as Guinness attempt, of which 22 journalists. Still a record, which took 3 tasting attempts, which was finalized with a Santa Fe Reserva Exclusiva 8 Years. Part of the show was to raffle 120 bottles of Nido de Condores, 12 Years. An all Colombian creole night with areas, butifarra and yuca. The evening included a fundraiser for the town of San Basilio de Palenque, first village to liberate itself from slavery. Organized by Sociedad Colombiana de Ciencias Quimicas y Alcoholes y Licores SA.

Cata Guinness Colombia 2014 (5)

Cata Guinness Colombia 2014 (7)

Cata Guinness Colombia 2014 (3)

Cata Guinness Colombia 2014 (1)

Whisky & Rum aan Zee

11 October 2014, IJmuiden, the Netherlands

A new edition of Rum tasting in the Netherlands with a splendid view on the North Sea. Over a 1000 visitors came and tasted a broad variety of whiskies and of course rum, with a line-up including Borgoe, Zacapa, Havan Club, Ron Abuelo, Dos Maderas and Don Papa. Some impressions here below. Come and join this year again with the Dutch Rum Awards on 11 October 2015!

IJmuiden Rum aan Zee 2014 (2)

IJmuiden Rum aan Zee 2014 (6)

IJmuiden Rum aan Zee 2014 (5)

IJmuiden Rum aan Zee 2014 (3)


IJmuiden Rum aan Zee 2014 (1)


IJmuiden Rum aan Zee 2014 (4)

Richland Rum Distillery

Interview with founder Erik Vonk at Vennebroeck Estate Georgia

Meet Erik Vonk, an accomplished entrepreneur, writer and “rumficianado”. From leader in the global employment sector to producer of a natural premium rum.The Richland Distilling Company artisan crafts Richland Rum is a Single Estate Georgia Rum which fills a void in the market for high quality, hand made, farm-to-table spirits. Founded in 2009 – champion in several awards, including Gold SIP and Craft Spirit Award 2014 and approved certified craft spirit by the American Distilling Institute.

What inspired you to get started in the rum industry?

My grandfather. He was a merchant Marine officer and spent years traveling the world in search of the best Rum. Always complaining about molasses based Rums; he heralded ‘authenticity’ and explained why Rums made from fresh juice were under-recognized.

Can you give us a little bit of history about your distillery?

We started making Rum from cane juice grown at our own Vennebroeck Estate in the early nineties. As the product developed in quality over the years, ‘consumer pressure’ pushed us to turn the volume up a notch around 2008. Then the mayor of nearby Richland, a small rural town 7 miles up the road from Vennebroeck, came to us and pushed us as hard as he could to move the Distillery from the Estate to down town Richland. A few years later we succumbed to his pressure and renovated the buildings where the Distillery is today, gradually becoming the nucleus of the revival of down town Richland. Pretty cool, huh!

Is there something unique about your rums?

We start with a mix of home grown cane, augmented by select cane we get from suppliers in GA, FL, LA and MS. The juice is turned into syrup, just by applying heat, evaporating water. Never are any preservatives or chemicals added. We then ferment, using our own, proprietary yeast. We then distill using two 1,000 L copper pot stills, hand built in Portugal. Our water is drawn directly from the Georgia aquifer, a lime stone layer that runs from the Appalachian Mountains, underneath Georgia, to Florida. The Rum is aged in virgin American oak casks. We never re-use our barrels.

Describe what your company does in the way of sustainable production?

Basically, we do not produce any waste, other than a bit of CO2 from our natural gas burners. Bagasse is used for erosion protection. The dunder is used to feed cattle. Even the methanol caught in fore-shots is sold as lighter fluid for BBQ fans!

Richland Rum photo (1)


Richland Rum photo (2)


Authentic Caribbean Rum training

16 June 2014, a day in Amsterdam to learn all about West-Indies Rums

Though Europe got its rum this month with WIRSPA’s Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque (ACR) certification trainings taking place in different capitals across the EU. And so did the ‘Rum Barrel’ participate in the training on June 16 in Amsterdam, venue being the club Door 74 and the training hosted by Andrew Nicholls, Bartender and Master of Flavors.

Over 14 different West-Indies’ rum brands were tasted and discussed with a group of 15 (rum) bartender professionals from all over the Netherlands. The line-up was impressive: from Borgoe 8 yr old Grand Reserve, El Dorado 15 yrs, Barbancourt 5 star, Angostura 1919 and what about St Nicholas Abbey 10 yrs old white rum. Though the tasting was great, the most compelling discussion was around the threats facing the Caribbean rum sector. Some brands struggle to compete in the international market and face closing their distilleries for good. With the closing of the refinery and thus supplier to Mount Gay Rum (home to the world’s oldest rum) is a not so good sign Since 2012, the European Union alongside the Caribbean rum industry invested over €100M into upgrading and modernizing rum production. Parallel marketing and promotion of West-Indies rums was given a push through the ACR brand.

But more is needed to really give it a push towards a sustainable future for the industry and its employees, because that’s a given fact with over 50,000 direct jobs in the sector (nr 2 sector after the tourism/hospitality industry). Bottom line, it came down to how these brands in the EU can compete with the big international brands?

One could say that tariff preferences for the premium rum category from the Caribbean should continue. This gives the sector more leverage to compete with the big guys. Secondly, a more structured and targeted marketing campaign towards consumer in growth markets (e.g. Denmark, Germany) should be enhanced. Promote the unique points which make these rums stand out towards the commonly bought brands. My suggestion would be for WIRSPA to learn from other premium or niche brands in the coffee and tea industry. And finally the supply chain and fee over cost might proof killing to compete. How to make the supply chain shorter, hereby re-gaining control to target the audience on your terms.

ACR training Amsterdam 2014 (4)

ACR training Amsterdam 2014 (1)

ACR training Amsterdam 2014 (6)

ACR training Amsterdam 2014 (5)