It’s 2am and I cannot fall asleep. I am too anxious about being part of the RumXP judging that will begin in a few short hours. I have sampled a lot of rums but I have never tasted 40-50 rums in a single day scoring one against the other. This will be an adventure.
After a social breakfast hosted by The Burrs and the Rum Renaissance Festival it was time for the judging to commence. Session #1 was white rums; 20 in all. As I nosed through the first grouping I worried that I might be overly critical to the first few rums so, on a suggestion from RumXP Paul Senft, I nosed all of the rums first taking notes on each. Next, I revisited each rum for tasting. This worked well. I made only minor adjustments to my initial thoughts. Following the scoring, the judges gathered in the Reveal room to see which rums had been sampled. Among the white rums I found a few surprises with the rums I rated .
Lunch followed Session #1 where Robert Elliott, owner of Marauda Rum, presented his Marauda Steel Pan Rum. Steel Pan is a blend of 3 year old rums from Trinidad, Jamaica, and Guyana. Its an interesting blend that has a number of unexplored flavors melding into a single spirit. I look forward to revisiting this rum with more than the short pour we sampled.
Following a short break, all of the judges reconvened for Session #2 which was a range of Gold rums. They were broken up into various groupings based on age and classification. This category is my wheel-house so a number of the rums easily identifiable based on taste. Once in the Reveal room I only found one or two rums I rated higher/lower than I would have guessed.
With the Judging Sessions #1 & #2 complete, the group hopped aboard the Rum bus to the mecca of tiki, Ft. Lauderdale’s historic Mai-Kai. This year’s Tuesday Tiki night was hosted by Rational Spirits’ Santeria Rum. Santeria greeted the judges, spouses, and other guests with a custom Mai-Kai cocktail creation, the Santero’s Elixir. The group enjoyed the always terrific Polynesian Islander Revue dinner show and spent many hours exploring the The Molokai lounge’s expansive cocktail offerings. As the night came to an end, the entire group gathered for a group photo beside the Mai-Kai garden’s waterfall.
As we traveled in silence back to the Doubletree, I took time to reflect on the excitement of Day 1 and found myself wondering what new adventures Day 2 would bring.