Above: Miami Club Rum’s Wynwood distillery (RJ Photo)
MIAMI: THE DE FACTO CAPITAL of the Caribbean and Latin America. It’s also the rum capital of the United States.
But in the 116 years since it was incorporated, there has never been a rum officially produced in the Magic City.
That is, until now.
Thanks to Matt Malone, the city has its first fully-functioning rum distillery in the hip neighbourhood of Wynwood near downtown Miami.
Malone is something of a rum neophyte, but still maintains serious credentials: the family of his wife, a native of Puerto Rico, has been making Puerto Rico’s Ron Caneca for generations and generations.
And Malone has brought that heritage and history to Miami Club Rum, producing a white rum in a small industrial space in a Miami area known more for art galleries than for sugarcane.
But there’s more to Miami Club Rum. Many rums these days are infused: with coconut, with coffee, even with beets (although we don’t much like the latter).
Miami Club Rum, in true Miami fashion, is infused with music.
In the latest example of rum distillers getting creative to enhance the aging process, Miami Club Rum’s stills are bombarded 24-7 with a constant mix of salsa and merengue music.
“I play music — that vibrates the curls of French oak that are in the rum,” Malone tells Rum Journal in lounge area of the distillery, which evokes the decor of Miami Beach’s 1960s heyday. “It releases the tannins in the wood faster —I even play music to the sugar — I don’t know if that works though.”
The white rum (a product of local Florida sugarcane) is aged for 90 days, according to Malone, who said he was investing in new, improved speakers to amp up the aging.
The recipe was made from scratch, he says, after a healthy amount of research and conversations with the industry’s experts.
The rum is smooth, with hints of vanilla and and coconut, with a suggestion of lemon peel.
The primary aim is to make it popular as a mixing rum, Malone says.
And making it in Miami is a natural fit.
“Miami is a gateway to the Caribbean and Central and South America, and the other way around — but we’re really the only within that demographic that doesn’t have a rum that they’re proud of,” he says. “So I was blown away by that. Miami is a relatively new city, but it’s about time she had her own rum.” — CJ