GUSTAVIA — It came down to a rum-off.
For the first time, the most exclusive rums in the Caribbean went head-to-head in a blind tasting competition at Caribbean Journal’s Caribbean Rum Awards in St Barth, and a team of seven international rum judges finally decided on a winner.
It was a superstar rum field: Ron Del Barrilito Five-Star; Don Q Reserva de la Familia Serralles; Havana Club Maximo; Brugal Papa Andres; El Dorado 25.
And after a round of voting, Puerto Rico’s Ron del Barrilito and the Don Q were neck-and neck, with the Don Q Reserva de la Familia Serralles finally emerging victorious in the second round.
It was the culmination of a week of rum celebration: arrival in style via Tradewind Aviation; a rum expo in Gustavia, a People’s Choice jury; a dinner at Pearl Beach sponsored by WIMCO Villas; a Ti’ Punch seminar and cocktail afternoon; and a seven-course cocktail-and-food pairing VIP dinner at the Quarter Kitchen and Cocktail Lab on Saturday (helmed by top chef Andrew Zarzosa of Yuzu Miami fame).
2019 marked the arrival of the Caribbean Rum Awards in St Barth, set at the Rhum Room, proprietor Christopher Davis’ rum Mecca that has more fine rums on its menu than any bar in the Western Hemisphere, including the largest selection of rhum agricole of any bar on earth.
“We are so pleased with the reception of the Caribbean Rum Awards in St Barth,” said Alexander Britell, editor and publisher of Caribbean Journal. “St Barth is one of the most remarkable markets for rum, and our partnership with Christopher Davis and the St Barth Rum Festival is a natural fit. This year’s competition was filled with outstanding rums from across the Caribbean, and a reminder of the wonderful diversity of Caribbean rum.”
In a field marked by broad excellence, rums from Martinique to Guadeloupe to Puerto Rico took home the double golds in seven different categories.
The Don Q Reserva de la Familia Serralles took home the Double Gold in the Ultra-Premium Category, while Ron del Barrilito’s Four-Star Rum won Double Gold in the Premium Rum category.
On the Rhum Agricole side, Double Gold medalists included Rhum A1710 for its Renaissance rum in the Rhum Blanc – Martinique category, while Rhum Bologne’s La Coulisse took home the Double Gold in the Rhum Blanc Guadeloupe category.
Martinique’s Rhum HSE won top honors in the XO category, while the Guadeloupe-made R St Barth “Authentique” won for the Hors d’age category.
“The partnership of the Saint Barth Rum Festival and the Caribbean Rum Awards’ inaugural event in Gustavia this year was incredible,” Christopher Davis said. “The judges, both professional and amateur, experienced some of the finest rhums/rums/rones from the Caribbean, culminating in a seven-course Japanese-inspired tasting menu with rum cocktails during the awards program. As it was our first year, we kept everything intimate, so we could make sure the quality of our event was top notch. We are already having distilleries and other potential partners on island as well as our people’s choice panel enquiring about the second edition next year, which for all of us at the Quarter Kitchen and Cocktail Lab and Rhum Room is the best reward.”
The festival also bestowed a special jury prize on Martinique’s Gregory Vernant of Rhum Neisson, choosing him as the Caribbean Rum Maker of the Year.
Judges included Martinique chef and restaurateur Guy Ferdinand; Caribbean Journal editor and publisher Alexander Britell; Caribbean Journal EVP and managing editor Guy Britton; New York-based vintner and spirits importer Steven Shaw; Peter Berntsen, operating partner of Casa de Montecristo by Prime Cigar in Miami; Cuba Journal editor-in-chief Simons Chase; and the aforementioned Rhum Room and Quarter Kitchen and Cocktail Lab proprietor Christopher Davis.
Judges on the People’s Choice panel included Steven Miller, Eddy Maddox; Benoit Lavigne and Ted Houseknect.
“St Barth is the natural home for an event that celebrates rum, one of the world’s greatest artisanal, luxury products,” Britton said. “And we are excited about what the future has in store.”
See the full results of the Caribbean Rum Awards 2019 below:
Caribbean Rum Awards Results
Rhum Blanc Agricole (Martinique)
Double Gold: A1710 Renaissance
Gold: La Favorite Riviere Riviere Bel’air
Silver: Rhum HSE Parcellaire
Bronze: Rhum Neisson L’Esprit Bio
Rhum Blanc Agricole (Guadeloupe)
Double Gold: Rhum Bologne La Coulisse
Gold: Rhum Saint Barth Blanc
Silver: Pere Labat 50
Bronze: Karukera L’Intense
VSOP Rhum Agricole
Double Gold: Rhum Karukera Black Alligator
Gold: HSE VSOP
Silver: Rhum Bologne VSOP
Bronze: Rhum Clement VSOP
XO Rhum Agricole
Double Gold: Rhum HSE XO
Gold: Rhum Damoiseau XO
Silver: Rhum Depaz XO
Bronze: Rhum Bologne XO
Hors d’Age Rhum Agricole
Double Gold: R St Barth “Authentique”
Gold: Rhum HSE 2003
Silver: La Favorite Privilege Pour Lulu
Bronze: Rhum Depaz 2002
Premium Rum ($450 and under)
Double Gold: Ron del Barrilito Four Star
Gold: Foursquare Zinfandel Cask Blend
Silver: Appleton 21
Bronze: Facundo Paraiso
Ultra-Premium Rum ($450 and above)
Double Gold: Don Q Reserva de la Familia Serralles
Gold: Ron del Barrilito Five-Star
Silver: Havana Club Maximo
Bronze: El Dorado 25
Special Jury Prize: Caribbean Rum Maker of the Year 2019
Gregory Vernant, Rhum Neisson
Caribbean Rum Awards People’s Choice Results
Best Molasses Rum: Don Q Reserva de la Familia Serralles
Best Rhum Agricole: R St Barth “Authentique”
Judge accommodations were provided for by Wimco Villas, Les Ilets de la Plage and St Barth Properties.