An Interview with Dave Marsland – Manchester Rum Festival

An Interview with Dave Marsland Manchester Rum Festival by the fat rum pirateDave Marsland may be better known to many of you as Drinks Enthusiast. To say Dave is involved in the Drinks Industry is a bit of an understatement – as you will see from this interview. He has many differing interests from Pop Up Bars, working as a Brand Ambassador for Chairman’s Reserve/St Lucia Distillers and running his own Spirits & Sundries Emporium – Riddles in Altrincham.

As a result of all this activity I’ve bumped into Dave a few times over the past few years. So I thought it was about time to let him tell us all about his Manchester Rum Festival and question him a little about the current rum scene.

1. When did the idea for The MCR Rum Festival begin and what inspired you?

The realisation that Manchester had never had one before! The city has plenty of rum focused venues such as The Liars Club, Hula and Mahiki, but barring the gin and whisky festivals that have been in place in the city the last few years, no one has ever thought of a rum style festival. I checked with one of the main rum-lovers of the city, Lyndon Higginson, and he himself said he’s surprised it had never come to fruition yet!

I love rum, always have done since turning legal age and going for Lambs Navy in the local pub! Running bars when i was younger turned me to the likes of Myers, Chairman’s Reserve and Matusalem. Ultimately resulting in adapting St Lucia Distillers and Rhum St Barth into my brand agency. I’ve surrounded myself with rum all my life so it made sense to pass on my enthusiasm to like-minded Mancunians!An Interview with Dave Marsland Manchester Rum Festival UK by the fat rum pirate

2. Who will be your target audience? Who do you hope to see at these

All and anyone. It’s aimed at consumers, whether they are a bartender or lawyer, rum amateur or connoisseur. Last year’s event had such a positive response due to the brands involved and the cocktails available through Revolution de Cuba. You had your classic cocktail base brands, your sippers, your everyday go-to and your ‘under the table’ expressions. I asked the brands to bring everything, don’t leave anything out as you just don’t know who may go away liking it!

3. How diificult it is organising such an event? Has it been easy to get exhibitors, venues etc on board?

Last year was the first year and i will give a lot of credit to Revolution de Cuba, they helped me immensely with hosting for the venue. Meaning that the vibe and decor would be exactly how each person would expect upon arriving. I put the feelers out for the rum festival approximately 8 months before the big day to the brands. The majority were more than happy to attend. I kept it as a first-come-first-serve, so no favoritism towards my own brand agency clients, so once i filled the quota, that was it! The same is happening this year, with many new brands coming on board early after realising they missed out in 2017.

There will be a new venue though in Manchester Cathedral so I can naturally grow the festival, but I’ve kept the relationship with Revolution de Cuba going as they are the official bar partner within the Cathedral and will be showcasing a selection of signature rum serves once again.

4. Prior to doing this what is/was your day job? How will this experience help with the successful launch of the Rum Festivals?

I have owned my own brand agency, Drinks Enthusiast, since 2011 and have been involved with a variety of festivals and large events before, including Liverpool Food & Drink Festival, a Liquor Market with Manchester Food & Drink Festival and the trade focused Northern Restaurant and Bar within Manchester Central for the last 6 years. The experience of running high-volume, long-term planning and a variety of brands within has meant that i’ve approached Manchester Rum Festival in a way that pleases hopefully both the attendees, but also the exhibitors too. I also own my own spirit focused shop, Riddles Emporium in Altrincham, South Manchester, that has kept me in touch with consumers attitudes and trends towards not only rum, but spirit categories in general.

5. When did your own Rum Journey begin?

2006 at the Moss Trooper pub close to where i lived at the time in South Manchester. Lambs Navy and cola, with probably a classic Bacardi Carta Blanca (or Superior as it was back then) based Mojito for my first foray into cocktails around the same time.

6. Do you have any favourite rum drinks or special cocktails you

Sipping a rum all the way. Doesn’t matter the age or blend, just served up straight, no ice. If i was in a cocktail mood though, my current favourite for the last year is known as the ‘Cause for Concern’ aka the Chairman’s Spiced Negroni. Equal measures Chairman’s Reserve Spiced, Velvet Falernum and Campari, stirred and finished with an orange wedge. I thank Ehren Khoo-Steel of Brass Monkey in Nottingham for coming up with that for me!

7. Who currently makes up the MCR Rum Festival team and what is their background/experience?

It’s just me!

8. Aside from the Manchester Rum Festival, what other Rum related activities are the team involved in?

I host a variety of rum tastings over the year with venues across the UK that are consumer focused, but the bulk of my rum work is with Chairman’s Reserve and St Lucia Distillers, including the Chairman’s Mai Tai cocktail competition that’s in its 3rd year this year.

9. What have you learned over the past year or so organising Rum Festivals?

It’s growing. Consumers are asking questions, intrigued about what they are drinking before they drink it. I’ve noticed a difference in how people who attend my rum tastings react in comparison to 2011 when i first started hosting. They will tell me brands from their travels and if i’ve ever experienced them before, or a cocktail they should be trying at home. It used to be all about gin, but rum is not far nehind at all, and being embraced by so many more people!

So there we go. Thanks very much Dave for answering those questions. It’s really great to see passionate people setting up Rum Festivals such as this in the UK and helping spread the word.

There are a few tickets still remaining for the event which is on the Friday 1st June 2018 at Manchester Cathedral. Tickets can be booked here. Tickets are priced at £21.49 and include entry to the event, and samples of all the rums being exhibited. Amongst the brands confirmed so far are Pussers, Atlantico, El Dorado, Old J, Appleton Estate and Mount Gay. We attended last years event and it was excellent so we are expecting an even bigger and better event this year!

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Manchester Rum Festival Interview with Dave Marsland by the fat rum pirate




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