Under a hot sun and bright blue sky, the rum flowed over the two-day staging of Jamaica’s first Rum Festival..

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If you missed the inaugural Rum Festival staged in 2019, try to make it for 2020 – you won’t be disappointed, it’s an unforgettable experience! The only spirit festival in Jamaica, this fun-filled, entertaining event is held over two days at Hope Gardens in Kingston.

The grounds are transformed into what can only be described as a lively rum village. You enter through an archway of lush, swaying cane stalks, cooled with a rum-infused mist. Once banded, you are greeted with sugar cane, peeled and bagged.

First stop is the Heritage House, a sobering experience that takes you through the epic and fascinating story of rum, told through detailed story boards, photographs and displays of rum barrels, artefacts and rare treasures.

Then begins the flavour journey. Tented rum stations were set up on the grounds, and patrons sampled a wide variety of rums – straight-up, or in signature cocktails, punches, slushes, and liqueurs.

The Ruminars, a spirited spin on seminars, were well-attended and included food pairings, live mixology demos, cocktail etiquette and ample sampling. Presenters included Master Blender, Joy Spence and Global Rum Ambassador, Ian Burrell, as well as members of the J. Wray & Nephew Academy.

It was a fun-vibe throughout the day and as the sun went down, patrons enjoyed an evening of entertainment with live performances on stage by local artistes. By last pour, heads were spinning from the intoxicating, thrilling experience!


The Process

The cane takes from ten months to two years to grow and ripen, it is then harvested and milled to extract the cane juice. The ‘liquid gold’ is put to rest in oak barrels for a few years or decades. Rare blends are created by mixing several rums in charred white oak barrels, allowing them to sleep for twenty years, then they are blended with other aged rums. Categories of rum include: light; gold; spiced; dark; flavoured; overproof; vintage and single barrel; and premium.

The History

It’s a compelling history that starts with sugar, that rare commodity in the 1600s craved by Europe. Sugar cane was first introduced to the Caribbean by Christopher Columbus and it flourished in the fertile Jamaican soil. It was soon realized that great fortunes could made, and vast sugar plantations sprung up all over the island. The sugar was shipped to Europe, and the by-product, molasses, was discarded…until crude efforts at distilling created the first rum, a raw white grog, known as ‘Kill Devil.’ Used only for local consumption in tippling houses, it was later introduced to the British navy, and sailors were allotted a ration of one pint per day (until it was realized that, distilled at 140 proof, it made the crew unruly, and the ration was reduced to two ounces a day, and diluted!).

Rum tells the tale of triumph and tragedy and is interwoven in Jamaica’s history – it bound generations of slaves, instigated rebellions, pirate raids and created great wealth for the sugar barons.

A product of craft and tradition, perfected over 400 years, rum took an upward trajectory and was transformed from ‘swill to swanky’ to become the drink of connoisseurs. It would earn the reputation of being the spirit most versatile and globally popular across every demographic.



February 29 -March 1
Hope Gardens



August 16

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