Caribbean Rum Awards in St Barts – Discovering the Best Rums from the Caribbean

The Caribbean Rum Awards are returning to the Caribbean island of St. Barts November 11 to 15, 2020. The event, in its third year, is the Caribbean region's most exclusive celebration of rum. The event has rapidly emerged as the best rum tasting of super-premium rums that is open to the public.

The weekend will feature ultra-premium rum tastings, seminars about cooking with and savoring rum and other public events. Says Alexander Britell, editor and publisher of "Caribbean Journal" magazine, "We are so pleased with the reception of the Caribbean Rum Awards in St Barth. 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. The competition features outstanding rums from across the Caribbean, and is a reminder of the wonderful diversity of Caribbean rum."

The icing on top: WIMCO Villas is giving away a one week villa vacation for two in St Barts during the Caribbean Rum Awards week. Interested travelers need only submit a favorite vacation photo to enter.

Caribbean Rum Awards in St Barts – Discovering the Best Rums from the Caribbean
Rum Awards

About the Caribbean Rum Awards

The Caribbean Rum Awards (CRA) takes place in Gustavia, the charming harbor town that is the capital city of St. Barts. Visitors to the five-day Caribbean Rum Awards and Festival are treated to exciting events, including a tasting of the best super-premium Caribbean rums, a bartending competition, a ti-punch cocktail making workshop, and a rum tasting seminar. Rum aficionados will also have the option to purchase tickets for a gala dinner, staged at the Quarter Kitchen Restaurant and Cocktail Lab, home to the Rhum Room, that pairs fine French Caribbean cuisine with hand-crafted rum cocktails.

Event Schedule for the Caribbean Rum Awards

Tentative event schedule for the 2020 Caribbean Rum Awards in St Barts.

Wednesday, November 11

  • Noon. Rum judging. A panel of guest judges evaluates the rums entered in eight categories in blind tastings.

Thursday, November 12

  • Noon. The Rum Expo opens. Visitors can meet representatives from various Caribbean rum producers and sample their finest rums.

Friday, November 13

  • 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Ti' Punch Hour. Visitors will help celebrate the French Caribbean's most famous cocktail with samples of different white rums from around the region.

Saturday, November 14

  • 8:00 p.m. Rum Pairing Dinner. Visitors will enjoy a multi-course dinner with rum pairings at Quarter Kitchen and Cocktail Lab in Gustavia with rare, after-dinner cigars.
  • After dinner. An Evening at the Rhum Room. The Grande Finale of the event is the after-dinner party at the Rhum Room with music, dancing, and, of course, more rum.

Caribbean Rum Awards VIP rum tasting package for rum enthusiasts

Those with a passion for rum can take purchase a special CRA VIP package that gives the ticket holder access to exclusive events otherwise closed to the public. This extraordinary rum enthusiast package sells for $999 and includes...

  • All-access VIP passes to all events
  • A ti' punch welcome cocktail party
  • A private tasting of the best rums in the Caribbean
  • Two tickets to a seminar by a master rum distiller from the Caribbean
  • One bottle of premium Rhum Agricole
  • Two etched souvenir Rhum glasses
  • Two 2020 Caribbean Rum Awards souvenir sun shirts
  • A cigar for every night of the event (four premium cigars)
  • The option to purchase award-winning rums featured at the festival, at special pricing
  • Two tickets to the gala evening Rum awards dinner with rum cocktail pairings
  • Exclusive after-dinner cigar and rum party

Only 20 VIP packages will be sold. Contact WIMCO Villas for details at [email protected]

About The Rhum Room in St Barts – the venue for the rum tasting and judging

The action at the Caribbean Rum Awards is all centered at Christopher Davis' Rhum Room in downtown Gustavia. This rum emporium is designed in the spirit of a secret speakeasy, whose location is known to only a small group of insiders. The Rhum Room is artfully hidden within Quarter Kitchen restaurant. It features the largest selection of fine Caribbean rums on earth, including the world's largest selection of Rhum Agricole, a type of rum exclusive to the French Caribbean made with freshly-squeezed sugar cane rather than molasses.

Caribbean Rum Awards in St Barts – Discovering the Best Rums from the Caribbean
Rums from across the Americas

Meet the judges

The winner of the title of "Best Rum in the World" will be determined by a panel of seven judges, all expert evaluators of super-premium rums. The judges will conduct a blind tasting of rums from across the Americas. Judges for the 2019 event 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 Rhum Room and Quarter Kitchen and Cocktail Lab proprietor Christopher Davis.

Says Davis about the CRA event, "St Barth is the natural home for an event that celebrates super-premium Caribbean rum, one of the world's greatest artisanal, luxury products," Britton said. "And we are excited about what the future has in store.". Judges for the Peoples" Choice Award included Steven Miller, Eddy Maddox; Benoit Lavigne, and Ted Houseknect. Caribbean Rim awards event sponsor WIMCO Villas housed the judges in a luxurious private villa for the week.

The organizers of the Caribbean Rum Awards event expect to have a similarly illustrious panel of experts to judge the rums entered into the 2020 event.

What is a rum tasting?

There are more than 1,000 different varieties of rum, and tasting more than a half dozen of them in one sitting time can lead to something called "sensory fatigue”, or a state in which your tongue and nose can"t determine the nuances in different alcohols Two sips of each rum is ideal. Swirl the first sip in your mouth and then take another soon after. You"ll really taste the flavor of the rum in the second sip. Take a sip of water and nibble on a cracker between samples of different rums.

The words most commonly used by rum aficionados to describe what they taste or feel in a super-premium rum include caramel, fruity, woody, sugar, vanilla, molasses, and smooth.

Rum samples are plentiful at CRA events. Visitors are encouraged to try different rums and make their own evaluations. We recommend limiting your samples to, at most, three different rums in a sample tasting. That helps prevent them from confusing your palette.

How are the rums evaluated for the CRA?

Rums entered in the CRA are judged by a number of criteria. Judges evaluate each rum on its color, clarity, viscosity, and, of course, its flavor profile. At the Caribbean Rum Awards, judges do a blind tasting. That means that while the judges aren"t blindfolded, they don"t know which rum is from which producer. That helps to eliminate any bias, conscious or unconscious, that the judge might have.

How is rum made?

Rum production begins with sugar cane. To this day, mature sugar cane is harvested by hand. The cut cane is brought to a mill where it is crushed in a machine. The crushing extracts the sugar cane juice.

Most rum producers take the sugar cane juice and convert it into molasses and crystallized sugar. The crystallized sugar is sold as a sweetening product, and the molasses is fermented and distilled into rum. Most rum is distilled from fermented molasses.

To make molasses, sugar cane is harvested and stripped of leaves. Its juice is extracted, usually by cutting, crushing, or mashing. The juice is boiled to concentrate it, promoting sugar crystallization. The result of this first boiling is called first syrup (‘A" Molasses), and it has the highest sugar content.

What is the difference between white rum and dark rum?

Rum is a liquor that is produced by fermenting molasses or juice from sugarcane, the distilling it

The distillate, a clear liquid, is usually aged in oak barrels to impart caramel, vanilla and oak flavors. Most rums are produced in the Caribbean islands and Central America, but it is also produced in other sugar-producing countries, including the Philippines and India

When rum is first distilled it is a clear liquid. To make it ready to be sold, the distilled liquid is filtered several times until it is free of impurities.

This makes white rum, which is usually aged for a shorter period of time than dark rums and has a sweet, subtle flavor. White Rum is light-bodied and is the main ingredient in many classic Rum cocktails, such as Mojito, Pina Colada, or Daiquiri.

Dark rums start off in the same way – as clear liquids – but instead of being filtered and bottled immediately after this process, dark rums are left to age first. They"re often aged in charred oak or wooden barrels and, over time, they end up darker in color and bolder in flavor. The depth of color is dependent on the length of time the rum has spent aging in oak barrels. Rums that are golden in color tend not to have been aged for too long whereas darker rums will have spent a longer time aging.

Rums may also be darker if molasses or burnt caramel are added for flavor. The French term "Rhum” typically distinguishes rum made from fresh sugar cane juice from rum made from molasses in French-speaking locales like Martinique. A Rhum Vieux ("old rum”) is an aged French rum.

About the rums judged at the Caribbean Rum Awards event

Not all rums are crafted in the same manner, so it would be unfair to judge them in the same category. The CRA awards feature a number of categories. They are…

  • Rhum Blanc Agricole (Martinique). White rum made from sugar cane, produced on the island of Martinique
  • Rhum Blanc Agricole (Guadeloupe). White rum made from sugar cane, produced on the island of Guadeloupe
  • VSOP Rhum Agricole. Rum made from sugar cane that has been aged in the barrel for at least four years
  • XO Rhum Agricole. Rum made from sugar cane that has been aged in the barrel for at least six years
  • Hors d"Age Rhum Agricole. A type of premium rum, produced on the island of Martinique, that is aged in oak barrels and finished in port casks
  • Premium Rum. Rum made from molasses that retails for $450 or less
  • Ultra Premium Rum. Rum made from molasses that retails for more than $450

About the Caribbean Rum Award winners from 2019

The 2019 Best Rum of the World award went to Puerto Rico"s Don Q Reserva de la Familia Serralles with Puerto Rico"s Ron del Barrilito coming in a close second. The field featured a number of prestigious rums from around the Caribbean and Latin America, including…

  • Havana Club Maximo from Cuba
  • Brugal Papa Andres from the Dominican Republic
  • El Dorado 25 from Guyana

Martinique"s Rhum HSE won the top honors for Best Rum in the XO category and Guadeloupe"s R St Barths "Authentique” won the Hors d"Age category. A special jury prize was awarded to Martinique"s Gregory Vernant of Rhum Neisson, choosing him as the Caribbean Rum Maker of the Year. The People"s Choice award also went to Puerto Rico"s Don Q Reserva de la Familia Serralles.

For more details about the Caribbean Rum Awards in St Barts, contact WIMCO Villas at [email protected] for information on flights, reserving a villa, and purchasing event tickets.

Click here to start browsing villas for rent in St Barts, we suggest using the dates Nov 11-16 to maximize your access to the event.