We’d scheduled a trip Up North for the inaugural Manchester Rum Festival merely days after landing from a two-week rum-filled trip to Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe. I was worried we’d be jetlagged or all rummed-out to enjoy, but I was happy to be proven wrong as the world of rum worked its magic and the five-hour event flew by in a whizz of tastings, chats and catching up with the rum crew and brand ambassadors.
When booking the trip, sadly the Robbie Williams concert-goers had booked up most of the rooms in Manchester so we opted for catching an early train from London on the day and staying just for one night, half an hour away in Altrincham. This meant we arrived towards the end of the VIP brunch at the Home Sweet Home restaurant opposite the festival venue. This warm-up event was hosted by Pusser’s and their make-your-own rum bloody mary bar – customising your shot of Blue Label with your choice of juice, spices, sauces and garnishes. There was also two breakfast specials: a full English with rummy baked beans, or rum, caramel and banana waffles. All good for pre-drinking preparation.
Revolucion de Cuba opened its doors at noon and we filed through, collecting a welcome cocktail and festival tasting glass and taking stock of what we wanted to visit first. Very much a consumer event, most stands had only a small sample of their range, but the crowd seemed eager to learn about the liquid, rather than just the knocking it back to get drunk that can happen at some events.
We’d tried probably 90% of the rums on offer before, but it never hurts to ‘refresh’ yourself. Speciality Drinks even brought along a bottle of Clairin Sajous – one we were keen to ‘refresh’ ourselves with. Probably of most appeal to agricole fans, its smoothness and delicacy in the mouth belies its 51% abv bottling.
Alongside trips to stands for Clément, Trois Rivières, Foursquare and Doorly’s, El Dorado, St Lucia Distillers (Chairman’s Reserve) and Mount Gay, we also tried Aluna coconut, a new launch. It’s a blend of Guatemalan and Caribbean rums (not sure which islands), paired with natural coconut flavours. The company were keen to point out its lower sugar content compared to its more ahem, mainstream competitors, and at 35%, it also had a bit more kick than the Malibu types.
As is always the case, the staff then began calling time before we could make our way to the other stands. Time really does fly at these events.
Organiser Dave Marsland, aka the Drinks Enthusiast, should be really pleased with how well the festival went. It was well-oiled (apart from a lack of cloakroom facilities for bags/jackets) and the crowd definitely looked like they enjoyed it and found a new favourite.