It began with a rooftop, oceanfront tasting of ultra-rare Martinique rum at St Barth’s magnificent Le Barthelemy Hotel and Spa.
It concluded with a rum festival right at the water’s edge in Gustavia, bookended by superyachts.
And in between, the Caribbean Rum Awards St Barth crowned the best rums in the world for 2022.
For the second year in a row, Martinique’s Rhum Neisson took home the crown as the world champion of rum, with its Neisson 21 90th Anniversary edition besting Flor de Cana’s Generaciones to take home the title.
A team of eight global rum experts gathered in Christopher Davis’ renowned Rhum Room in St Barth to judge a final field of 60 rums across eight categories in a blind tasting.
The final two categories are the most elite in any rum competition worldwide: Uber-Premium Molasses and Uber-Premium Rhum Agricole, with every rum in each category selling for more than $400 at retail, a true collection of heavyweight rums.
Neisson’s 21-year won Double Gold in the Uber Agricole category. Then Flor de Cana’s stunning V Generaciones, a 30-year edition, won Double Gold in the Uber Molasses.
It was a rematch of 2021, when the same two rum houses faced off for the title, and again Neisson came out on top, another win for Neisson, arguably the most sought-after boutique rum distillery on earth.
It was the culmination of a remarkable field of rums, including six categories of Rhum Agricole, the magnificent sugarcane-juice rums of the French Caribbean, with brands like Montebello, La Favorite and HSE performing strongly.
“This is the best field of rums we’ve had yet in competition in St Barth, part of a truly spectacular week of rum events in the Caribbean’s most glamorous island,” said Alexander Britell, editor and publisher of Caribbean Journal and co-founder of the Caribbean Rum Awards St Barth. “The Caribbean Rum Awards St Barth has truly become the region’s premier rum festival.”
But the week was far more than just a competition, with nearly two dozen events across five days, from master classes with distillers and blenders to rum-pairing dinners to VIP cigar-and-rum pairings.
That ranged from Damoiseau’s popular Ti’ Punch party at Les Ilets de la Plage hotel to a “Caribbean Rum Festival” evening that featured Parce Rum, Don Q and Ron Pepon at Le Barthelemy.
It all led up to a rum festival on the Captainerie in the heart of Gustavia, gathering 14 of the Caribbean’s to rum producers for a full-fledged celebration of fine rums, set to soundtrack of the French West Indies.
“After 2 years of various Covid travel interruptions our festival has taken a triumphant step forward,” said Davis, global rum expert and co-founder of the event.
Davis said this year’s support from the St Barthelemy Collectivite had proven invaluable, helping to place the event as a prominent part of the annual St Barth calendar.
“This is a rum experience that is not available anywhere else in the Caribbean,” Davis said.
This year’s event featured a broad slate of high-level partners, from luxury airline Tradewind Aviation to the Caribbean’s top villa provider, WIMCO St Barth Properties to charter yacht company The Moorings and luxury brand Davidoff.
Next year’s event has already confirmed dates of Oct. 31-Nov. 5.
“We can’t wait for what should be an even bigger festival next year,” Britell said.
The biggest addition to this year’s event was the Rum Festival on the Harbor, an initiative spearheaded by Erjon Lulaj.
“This year’s festival was such a great event, it was an event dedicated to people who wanted to learn about rum, taste rum and cultivate themselves in the world of rum,” Lulaj said. “It was also a moment to have fun and spend a nice evening in the company of a local band with local music a nice Ti Punch in hand.”
This year’s Caribbean Rum Awards St Barth jury included judges Alexander Britell, editor and publisher of Caribbean Journal; Guy Britton, managing editor and EVP of Caribbean Journal; Christopher Davis, global rum expert and proprietor of the Rhum Room St Barth; rum expert and international cigar sommelier Jose Antonio Hernandez-Solaun; Peter Berntsen, COO of Empire Social Lounge in Miami and founder of Miami Rum Month; Guy Ferdinand, renowned Caribbean chef and owner of Martinique’s Le Petibonum; Myssi Davis, founder of Rum Traveler; Cuban rum expert Ivan Jivkov; and editor-in-chief of Cuba Journal, Simons Chase.
You can find the full list of winners below.
50 degrees and below – Rhum Blanc Agricole
Rhum La Favorite 50 Double Gold
Rhum HSE 50 Gold
Rhum Karukera 50 Silver
Rhum Bologne Black Cane Bronze
Over 50 degrees Rhum Blanc Agricole
Montebello “Cuvee the Bolokos” Double Gold
Rhum JM 55 Gold
Karukera L’Intense Silver
Rhum Longueteau 62 Bronze
Rhum HSE VSOP Double Gold
Rhum Neisson VSOP Gold
Rhum La Favorite Coeur de Canne Silver
Rhum Trois Rivieres VSOP Bronze
Rhum HSE XO Double Gold
Rhum Severin XO Gold
Rhum JM XO Silver
Rhum Clement Cuvee de l’habitation Bronze
Reimonenq 9 Ans Double Gold
Trois Riviers Triple Millesime Gold
Rhum Bielle 2011 Silver
Rhum Neisson Nonaginta Bronze
Neisson 21 Double Gold
JM Signatur Gold
Reimonenq Quintessence Silver
JM Dame Jeanne Bronze
Holmes Cay Belize 2005 Double Gold
Ron Diplomatico 2005 Single Vintage Gold
Flor de Cana 130th Anniversary Silver
Mount Gay XO – Bronze
Flor de Cana V Generaciones Double Gold
Havana Club Union Gold
Ron Diplomatico Ambassador Silver
Mount Gay The Madeira Cask Expression Bronze
World Champion: Neisson 21 90th Anniversary Edition
For more, visit the Caribbean Rum Awards St Barth.