Two years ago in St Barth, a never-before-seen field of the world’s most expensive rums faced off in a rum category for the ages.
And this week in St Barth, history was made again.
For the first time ever, the winners of the Uber Premium Rhum Agricole and Uber Premium Molasses Rum category (both comprised exclusively of rums over $400 per bottle) went head to head, a battle of sugarcane juice and molasses, of two of the most exquisite rums on the planet.
And a world champion was crowned.
Martinique’s Rhum Neisson Armada 88 bested Nicaragua’s Flor de Caña 30 to take home the title as the Caribbean Rum Awards World Champion for 2021 — making it the defending world’s greatest rum.
The festival was hosted by the world’s leading rum bar, the Rhum Room St Barth and the celebrated Quarter Kitchen and Cocktail Lab and their proprietor, global rum expert Christopher Davis, co-founder of the Caribbean Rum Awards St Barth.
It was just one highlight of what was another spectacular edition of the Caribbean Rum Awards, from Davidoff rum and cigar pairing nights to three glamorous festival dinners and a marvelous collection of rum distilleries at the Accutron Rum Expo.
“Our fourth edition of the Caribbean Rum Awards St Barth was our best yet,” said Alexander Britell, editor and publisher of Caribbean Journal and co-founder of the Caribbean Rum Awards St Barth. “The competition field was better than ever, the events were truly memorable, and it’s clear the CRA is now a part of the fabric of St Barth. It’s fitting that our celebration of the world’s finest luxury rums should be set in the Caribbean capital of luxury.”
In other recognition, Nicaragua’s Flor de Cana won honors as Green Distillery of the Year for its “broad sustainability efforts” and Italy’s Velier won Rum Company of the Year for its “sweeping contribution to the standing of rum worldwide.”
The final competition field in St Barth included a total of 52 rums from across the region.
“Excellence begets Excellence is about the only way to look at this past week, distillers and blenders from around the Caribbean came to show, explore and teach the participants both connoisseur and amateur alike,” said Christopher Davis, proprietor of the Rhum Room and co-founder of the Caribbean Rum Awards St Barth. “We shared passion for rum and tasted our way around a magnificent field of rums.”
“I was very impressed by how the Molasses category is coming along and growing in different ways that give new life to the category — starting to push outside of the US rum requisite of 40 degrees (80-proof) rum,” Davis said. “The agricoles as always have such a refined and different presentation allowing them to show their best regardless of their distiller. The overall killer rum this year was the Neisson Armada 88, and wow — what a refined aged agricole rhum she is, if only I could be that way one day, for the moment I will suffice with spending time and savoring her in my glass. The magic of the future rhum experiences keep me excited daily.”
Other top performers included Martinique’s Rhum HSE, which took home a pair of double gold medals, and the new Ron Eminente from Cuba, which took home Double Gold in its first appearance at the Caribbean Rum Awards.
Other Double Gold medalists included Neisson’s Rhum Blanc; Guadeloupe’s Rhum Bielle for its Rhum Blanc 59; Martinique’s Rhum HSE VSOP; Martinique’s Rhum JM XO; Rhum HSE 2003 and Cuba’s Ron Eminente.
Judges of the blind-tasting competition included Christopher Davis; Alexander Britell; Guy Britton, EVP and Managing Editor of Caribbean Journal; Guy Ferdinand, renowned chef and proprietor of Le Petibonum in Martinique; Peter Berntsen, COO of Miami-based Empire Social Lounge; Simons Chase, co-founder of Cuba Journal; Jose Antonio Hernandez-Solaun, Miami-based rum expert, sommelier and international cigar sommelier; and guest judge Bianca Saloum, a Guadeloupe-based rum connoisseur.
This year also included the annual People’s Choice Awards, which crowned The Bahamas’ One Drop Rum, Neisson Armada 88 and Flor de Caña 30 in their respective categories (The People’s Choice Awards included Steven Miller, Eddy Maddox; Benoit Lavigne and Ted Houseknect.)
“We’re thrilled to be a part of the event for the third time now,” said David Zipkin, founding member and vice president of event partner Tradewind Aviation. “It’s a wonderful event for the island and it’s a great kick off for the season in St Barth.”
This year’s event was sponsored by WIMCO Villas, Tradewind Aviation, Martinique Tourism Authority, Accutron, Les Ilets de la Plage, Empire Social Lounge and SC Capital.
“Staging the Caribbean Rum Awards and associated public tasting events in St Barts is so in synch with the island’s culture, one that celebrates enjoying good food and wine in a relaxed setting,” said Stiles Bennet, president of WIMCO, one of the event’s presenting sponsors. “We are excited to see how the event grows in years to come.”
You can find the full list of medalists below.
DOUBLE GOLD MEDALISTS
Premium Rum – Ron Eminente, Cuba
Uber-Premium Rum – Flor de Caña 30, Nicaragua
Rhum Blanc 50 Degrees and Below – Rhum Neisson Blanc, Martinique
Rhum Blanc Over 50 Degrees – Rhum Bielle 59
VSOP – Rhum HSE VSOP, Martinique
XO – Rhum JM XO, Martinique
Hors d’Age – Rhum HSE 2003
Uber-Rhum Agricole – Rhum Neisson Armada 88
Premium Rum – One Drop 10 Year Old, The Bahamas
Uber-Premium Rum – Don Q Reserva de la Familia Serralles, Puerto Rico
Rhum Blanc 50 Degrees and Below – Rhum Damoiseau Club, Guadeloupe
Rhum Blanc Over 50 Degrees – Rhum Neisson Bio, Martinique
VSOP – Reimonenq JR Cuvée Spéciale, Guadeloupe
XO – Rhum HSE XO, Martinique
Hors d’Age – Karukera Cuvee Christophe Colomb 1493, Guadeloupe
Uber-Premium Rhum Agricole – Karukera Fut 65 Single Cask, Guadeloupe
Premium Rum – Chairman’s Reserve 2009, Saint Lucia
Uber-Premium Rum – Ron del Barrilito Five Star, Puerto Rico
Rhum Blanc 50 Degrees and Below – Rhum Depaz Blanc, Martinique
Rhum Blanc Over 50 Degrees – Rhum Karukera L’Intense, Guadeloupe
VSOP – Rhum Neisson VSOP 88 Years Martinique
XO – Rhum Bologne XO, Guadeloupe
Hors d’Age – Rhum Damoiseau 2001, Guadeloupe
Uber-Premium Rhum Agricole – Rhum HSE 1960
Premium Rum – The ImpEx Collection 13 Yr. Long Pond, Jamaica
Uber-Premium Rum – Havana Club Maximo, Cuba
Rhum Blanc 50 Degrees and Below – Reimonenq Rhum Coeur de Chauffe, Guadeloupe
Rhum Blanc Over 50 Degrees – La Favorite Coeur de Canne 55, Martinique
VSOP – Rhum Depaz VSOP, Martinique
XO – Rhum Neisson XO, Martinique
Hors d’Age – Rhum Neisson 19, Martinique
Uber-Rhum Agricole – Rhum Clement 1970, Martinique