Miami’s 5th Annual Rum Renaissance Grows Even Bigger
By Francine Cohen
As much of the country continues to get walloped with snow and cold weather with no sign of that lion/lamb thing happening anytime soon the only way to get warm may just be to close your eyes and pretend you’re already in Miami for the 2013 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival.
This year, the festival’s fifth, is definitely worth fantasizing about as Rum Renaissance — the largest gathering of rum experts, professionals and enthusiasts in the world — spans Monday, April 15 to Sunday, April 21, 2013 at the Doubletree by Hilton Miami Airport Convention Center. Last year, more than 8,000 rum enthusiasts attended the festival with 20,000 square feet of exhibit space. The new space spans 40,000 square feet, twice the size of last year’s event. Festival organizers are preparing for 15,000 attendees. According to the event’s co-founder, Robin Burr, the Miami Rum Fest has doubled in size each year, a testament to the fact that consumer interest in sugar cane spirits is growing faster than any other category of liquor.
“We’re proud to say that our prediction of rum’s resurgence in popularity was on the money,” said Robert A. Burr, festival organizer and publisher of Rob’s Rum Guide. “An incredible range of fine rums, from casual and fun mixers to luxurious top-shelf sipping rums will be on display. There is no better opportunity for the rum enthusiast to sample such a vast selection of spirits in one place.”
With a selection this big it’s important to remember that Rum Renaissance is a marathon, not a sprint. In addition to a week-long series of VIP parties, tasting sessions and celebrity seminars, the rum festival brings together members of the esteemed International Rum Expert Panel (RumXPs) for their annual tasting competition.
And, new this year, an exclusive Trade Tasting Day; a half-day exhibit session exclusively for the beverage trade on Friday, April 19. Liquor store buyers, food and beverage managers, bartenders and other spirits trade professionals are invited to attend. Robert Burr Burr comments on the importance of adding a trade-only component to the lineup, “We’ve invited 4,000 members of the spirits trade to attend the festival on a complimentary basis. Our goal is to give F&B managers, liquor store buyers, bartenders and others a solid opportunity to understand, appreciate and integrate greater rum knowledge into their professional experience. We wish to help instill confidence and greater depth of expertise of the rum category to all who attend.”
Robin Burr shares some additional thoughts on this new component to the festival as she explains, “The Trade Only day is a 1/2 day on Friday, April 19 from 3:00 to 7:00 PM. In the past, we invited everyone in the trade and gave them “free” tickets during the Grand Tasting on both Saturday and Sunday so they can come and experience all the wonderful rums under one roof and have the opportunity to talk to the companies directly. However, our rum exhibitors did not know if they were talking to a consumer or someone in the business. This year we are adding the trade component in order for the exhibitors to know exactly who they are talking to during the trade portion of the show. The Trade will still be invited to attend the show during the Grand Tasting exhibit at a reduced ticket price, but there is “free” admission to everyone on Friday.” At the Grand Tasting more than 240 spirits from the Caribbean and beyond will be available for sampling, along with a selection of island-style cuisine.
She continues, “Also, immediately following the Trade Exhibition on Friday, the RumXP Blind Tasting Competition Awards will be announced to everyone in attendance at the RumXP Awards Ceremony at 7:00 PM from the stage in the Exhibition Hall at the Miami Airport Convention Center.
Diplomatico will be taking advantage of the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival Trade Exhibit by holding their East Coast Diplomatico World Tournament Bartender Competition during trade show hours. The winner will be announced on Friday, April 19 immediately following the contest. First place is $5,000 and a week’s visit to Venezuela to visit Barquismeto and the birthplace of Diplomatico Rum. This way they will be taking advantage of our trade attendance and the RumXP judges that are in town for the RumXP Competition will be the judges of the rum cocktails for their contest as well.”
Access to all this is available to Rum lovers who can choose between $50 day passes to the grand tasting events and $65 VIP tickets that allow early access to the exhibits and complimentary tickets to the celebrity seminars. VIP ticket holders also enjoy access to a private area featuring complimentary cuisine and VIP cocktails. For those that wish to participate in the entire week of VIP special opportunities, a $250 Executive VIP pass grants admission to all events.
Until March 26th discounted rooms are available (for $129) at the Double Tree (www.doubletree.hilton.com/en/dt/groups/personalized/M/MIAMADT-MRR-20130407/index.jhtml?WT.mc_id=POG. Use the following code: MRR. You can also call toll free: 888-353-1995 or directly to hotel at 305-261-3800. If you prefer, fax your reservation to: 305-260-8900. The email address for reservations is: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, activities planned during Miami Rum Week and exhibits at Miami Rum Fest, call 305-443-7973 or visit the web site at www.RumRenaissance.com