Miami Rum Renaissance Festival returns to its roots after 10 years

After taking a detour to Fort Lauderdale in 2018, the Rum Renaissance Festival is back in Miami-Dade County for its 11th annual “celebration of cane spirits in the new world” at the Coral Gables Woman’s Club.

May 17-18 – Miami Rum Renaissance Festival in Coral Gables, Fla.
Quick links: The new venue | Buy tickets
More below: 2018 RumXP and Rum Jury award winners
The Tiki Times: See all the upcoming events

Miami Rum Renaissance Festival

About Miami Rum Renaissance Festival

The country’s largest and longest-running rum festival moved to Broward County last year to be closer to the center of the South Florida market, and also sidle up to The Hukilau, the annual Tiki weekender in Fort Lauderdale. It created the ultimate rum and Tiki weekend in June 2018, but organizers Robert A. Burr and wife Robin Burr decided to return to their roots for a more intimate experience in 2019.

Last year’s event at the Broward County Convention Center was the sixth straight year at a large venue, reflecting rum’s ever-expanding popularity in South Florida, one of the world’s major markets for cane spirits. From 2013 through 2017, Miami Rum Festival (as the event was also known) spent five successful years at the massive Doubletree by Hilton Miami Airport Convention Center. [See our past coverage below]

Miami Rum Renaissance actually started as small, boutique event at the Shore Club Beach Resort on South Beach in May 2009. It stayed on Miami Beach at the Raleigh Hotel Beach Resort in 2010 and Deauville Beach Resort in 2011-2012. The festival’s origins go back to 2008, when the Burrs held their first major rum tasting event for a modest 150 people at the historic Venetian Pool in Coral Gables.

Alexandre Gabriel, owner of Maison Ferrand and Plantation Rum, pours samples for guests at the 2018 Rum Renaissance Festival in Fort Lauderdale. (Atomic Grog photo)

Alexandre Gabriel, owner of Maison Ferrand and Plantation Rum, pours samples for guests at the 2018 Rum Renaissance Festival in Fort Lauderdale. (Atomic Grog photo)

With industry trends encouraging exploration of higher-end rums and smaller events popping up across the world, the Burrs decided to make the move back to a smaller venue in their home turf of south Miami-Dade. It’s serendipity that they ended up back in Coral Gables at another historic venue. The Coral Gables Woman’s Club was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

Instead of accommodating the thousands of people who attended the convention center events, the 2019 festival will be limited to 500 people per day “for a more intimate and elegant experience,” Robert Burr said in a recent interview with Caribbean Journal. “We’ll feature a lot of new producers, some old favorites and a fine selection of rare, limited edition luxury rums from my collection.”

Venue and tickets: The Coral Gables Woman’s Club is at 1001 E. Ponce de Leon Blvd. Festival hours are 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, with VIP admission at 2 p.m. Tickets are $50 per day for unlimited samples, $75 for VIP access. Friday trade admission is $25.
* Buy tickets online in advance

Miami Rum Renaissance Festival highlights

American Rum ReportRum tastings: For the price of admission, guests can sample hundreds of rums from the Caribbean and beyond, from Abuelo to Zaya. Dozens of distilleries, importers, producers, distributors and boutique brands will show off their products.
* See all the brands attending

VIP Rum Bar: Robert Burr brings back his popular den of rare and high-end offerings, available for $5 for a healthy sample. Among the more than 60 offerings are such gems as Facundo Exquisito (Puerto Rico); Foursquare’s Premise, Probitas and Zinfandel releases (Barbados and Jamaica); Rhum JM Cuvee 1845 (Martinique); plus Velier Caroni 15 (Trinidad) and Velier Worthy Park (Jamaica).

Rum Education: Seminars will be offered on a variety of topics, including a deep dive into the production of Mount Gay rum in Barbados, and an exploration of the diversity of rum with Plantation’s Rocky Yeh. New for 2019, Miami Rum Renaissance is teaming up with Will Hoekenga of American Rum Report to present two seminars (5 p.m. Friday and Saturday) on the emerging U.S. market, which now includes more than 230 distilleries. Also participating in the seminars will be Phil Prichard of Prichard’s Rum (Tennessee), Tim Russell of Maggie’s Farm (Pennsylvania), and Jonny VerPlanck of Three Roll Estate (formerly Cane Land Distilling, Louisiana). In the Caribbean Journal. interview, Robert Burr predicts a “new American Rum Revolution as distilleries pop up in every corner of North America with boutique offerings often made with great pride and ingenuity. The number of rum distilleries in the USA will easily eclipse all those in the Caribbean region.”
* See the schedule of seminars

More Miami Rum Renaissance Festival online
* RumRenaissance.com
* Facebook page | Twitter | Instagram | Flickr

Press coverage
* Rum Renaissance Festival Returns to Coral Gables
* Rum Journal: A conversation with Robert Burr

2018 RumXP and Rum Jury award winners

RumXP judges hard at work at the 2018 Rum Renaissance Festival. (Rum Renaissance Festival)

RumXP judges hard at work at the 2018 Rum Renaissance Festival. (Rum Renaissance Festival)

Launched during the second year of Miami Rum Renaissance Festival in 2010, the annual RumXP Awards are one of the longest running and most prestigious of the international awards for cane spirits. While some newer festivals avoid competitions and awards, the Burrs have forged ahead with their long-running industry honors, which are one of the highlights of the festival.

The RumXP Awards not only recognize brands for releasing outstanding spirits, they also help consumers make informed choices on new releases as well as old standbys that enter the competition. The judges, recognized on the RumXP website, include a wide range of industry experts, authors, and journalists. The experts spend days blind tasting hundreds of rums in a variety of categories.

The Consumer Rum Jury Awards were added in 2015 to give well-qualified rum enthusiast consumers, collectors and experienced rum travelers a chance to evaluate some of the same rums as the experts.

In June 2018, the competition featured three days of blind tasting sessions including more than 200 rum expressions. Here’s who came out on top:

2018 RumXP Awards

White Rum
Tanduay Silver – Best In Class
Caneland Parade – Gold medal
Casa Magdalena Ron Blanco – Gold
Real McCoy 3 – Gold
Plantation 3 Stars – Gold
Nine Leaves Clear – Gold

Tanduay from the Philippines won several awards and also served up tasty cocktails. (Rum Renaissance Festival)

Tanduay from the Philippines won several awards and also served up tasty cocktails. (Rum Renaissance Festival)

Rhum Agricole Blanc
LaMauny Acacia – Best In Class
Trois Rivières 50% Blanc – Gold
LaKay Clairin 22/22 – Gold
Trois Rivières Cuvée de Ocean – Gold
Caneland Rum Agricole – Gold

White Overproof Rum
Monymusk White Overproof – Gold

Spiced Rum
Brinley Spiced – Best In Class
Black Magic – Gold
Muddy River Carolina Spiced – Gold
Carmelita’s Spiced Orange – Gold

Flavored Rum
Koloa Coffee – Best In Class
Alligator Bay Dark – Gold
Boqueron Coconut – Gold
Ziami Grapefruit – Gold
Brinley Lime – Gold
Brinley Coconut Cream – Gold
Wicked Dolphin Hidden Barrel Maple – Gold

The Real McCoy, always a fan favorite, took home three awards. (Rum Renaissance Festival)

The Real McCoy, always a fan favorite, took home three awards. (Rum Renaissance Festival)

Boutique Aged Rum
Florida Mermaid – Best In Class
Queen Charlotte’s Reserve – Gold
Islamorada Small Batch Dark Barrel Aged – Gold
Koloa Reserve – Gold
Prichard’s Fine – Gold
Maggie’s Farm Queen Share Double Oak – Gold

Boutique Dark Rum
Naked in Jamaica – Gold
Maggie’s Farm 50/50 Dark Rum – Gold

Overproof Aged Rum
Plantation OFTD – Best In Class

Traditional Aged Rum
Monymusk Gold – Best In Class
Mezan Guyana 2005 – Gold
Mezan Panama 2006 – Gold
Grander 12 – Gold
Tanduay Gold – Gold
Real McCoy 5 – Gold

Mount Gay won four total awards in 2018. (Rum Renaissance Festival)

Mount Gay won four total awards in 2018. (Rum Renaissance Festival)

Premium Aged Rum
Real McCoy 12 – Best In Class
Mount Gay 1703 – Gold
Plantation Xaymaca – Gold
Plantation Fiji 2009 – Gold
Plantation Peru – Gold
Mount Gay XO – Gold

Rhum Agricole Aged
Trois Rivières VSOP – Best In Class
Trois Rivières Cuvée de Moulin – Gold
LaMauny VSOP – Gold
Trois Rivières Eleve Sous Bois – Gold

2018 Consumer Rum Jury Awards

White Rum
Casa Magdalena Ron Blanco – Gold
Cane Run – Gold

Dark Rum
Naked in Jamaica – Gold
Maggie’s Farm 50/50 Dark – Gold

Black Magic was awarded gold medals for its spiced rum from both the expert judges and the Consumer Rum Jury. (Rum Renaissance Festival)

Black Magic was awarded gold medals for its spiced rum from both the expert judges and the Consumer Rum Jury. (Rum Renaissance Festival)

Aged Rum
Dos Maderas 5 + 5 – Gold
Plantation XO – Gold
Mount Gay XO – Gold
Dzama Cuvée Noire – Gold
Diplomatico #2 – Gold
Mount Gay 1703 – Gold

Spiced Rum
Brinley Spiced – Gold
Carmelita’s Dark Spiced – Gold
Black Magic – Gold

Flavored Rum
Brinley Coconut – Gold
Carmelita’s Grilled Pineapple – Gold
Runner’s – Gold

RumXP.com: See previous results from 2010 through 2018

Related websites
Rob’s Rum Guide: More on the 2018 awards, Robert Burr’s reviews
Rum Minute: See Robert Burr’s video reviews
Travel: Rum Renaissance Caribbean Cruise

Previous coverage on The Atomic Grog
* 2018: Spirited mash-up: Rum Renaissance Festival moves next door to The Hukilau
* 2017: Miami Rum Festival and Trade Expo turns 9
* 2016: Koloa, Plantation and Don Q dominate awards at annual Miami festival
* 2015: Miami Rum Festival boldly explores the next frontier of cane spirits
Rum aficionados gather for 7th annual Miami festival
* 2014: Upstart spirits share spotlight with major players at Miami Rum Festival
Cocktails reach new heights of creativity at Miami Rum Festival
* 2013: Miami festival showcases a never-ending variety of rums
* 2012: Miami festival offers many lessons in rum appreciation
* 2011: We be Jammin: Rum Renaissance Zombie fest at The Mai-Kai

About Hurricane Hayward

A professional journalist and Florida resident for more than 30 years, Jim "Hurricane" Hayward shares his obsession with Polynesian Pop and other retro styles on his blog, The Atomic Grog. Jim's roots in mid-century and reto culture go back to his childhood in the 1960s, when he tagged along with his parents to Tiki restaurants and his father's custom car shows. His experience in journalism, mixology, and more than 20 years as an independent concert promoter make him a jack-of-all-trades in the South Florida scene. A graduate of the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications, Jim is a longtime web producer for The Palm Beach Post. In his spare time, he has promoted hundreds of rock, punk, and indie concerts under the Slammie Productions name since the early 1990s. In 2011, he launched The Atomic Grog to extensively cover events, music, art, cocktails, and culture with a retro slant. Jim earned his nickname by virtue of both his dangerous exotic drinks and his longtime position producing The Post's tropical weather website.
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