Manchester Rum Festival 3rd June 2017

Manchester Rum Festival3 rd June 2017 article review by the fat rum pirateManchester Rum Festival was the city’s first real stab at a fully fledged Rum Festival.  Over the past couple of years a few rum events have “sprung” up all over the country. With Rum Festivals being held in Cardiff, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield and of course the original Rumfest in London.

Dave Marsland aka Drinks Enthusiast felt the time was right for Manchester to have its own festival, dedicated solely to the (not so) Noble Spirit.

I originally intended interviewing Dave. I probably will in the future with regard one of his other ventures.  However, the 400 tickets that were available sold out within a week of release.  Confirming Dave’s thinking that Manchester wanted and need its own Rum Festival.  So an interview which would have promoted the festival seemed a bit of a waste of both our time.

The Manchester Rum Festival was held in Revolucion de Cuba, which is just off Deansgate right in the city centre.  The exact location of the event for anyone familiar with Revolucion de Cuba was in its downstairs area.  The usual private “Havana Club” areas were also open to those attending the Festival.

I travelled down to Manchester on the Friday afternoon and caught up with Dave early in the evening.  Dave was having a quick drink with Cellar Trend’s Peter Thornton. They had been busy setting up the festival and organising the Rum Brunches. These were available on the Saturday morning.

In total there were three brunches available at three different venues.  All offering servings of different rum brands.  Unsurprisingly Chairman’s Reserve were one of the brands where you could enjoy a cocktail with your brunch.  Dave is also the UK Rum Ambassador for this rum brand.  This event was held at the Pen and Pencil.  Another brunch was at Cottonpolis inconjunction with El Dorado. This was announced very closPusser's Rum Runners Brunche to the festival.

I was very kindly invited to the Pusser’s Rum Brunch held at Home Sweet Home.  Situated very conveniently directly opposite Revolucion de Cuba, in the old Northern Warehouse building.

The Pusser’s Rum Brunch was presented by Peter Thornton who made a great host.  The event was a great little warm up for the festiviites which followed.  I opted for the Rum Runners Brunch which was an American style cooked breakfast (complete with some awesome smokey baked beans) served on a skillet with a side of crusty toast.  It was delicious and a couple of Pusser’s Bloody Mary’s went down nicely with it.  As did half a bottle of Pussers 15 and Gunpowder proof that was left on our table……

Suitably fed and watered (maybe a little too well watered) our party of five headed for Revolucion de Cuba.  Dave Marsland was greeting people with a goodie bag which contained a rather excellent branded Bacardi glass, which I have managed to lose.

Entry into the festival was £15.  Entry included the goodie bag and full access to all of the rums available at the tasting stands.  There were no tickets or tokens to buy additional drinks.  If you wanted a long drink then the bars in Revolucion de Cuba were open as usual.  A selection of Caribbean inspired food was also available to line the stomach.

Entertainment was provided by a trio playing laid back Caribbean inspired music.  The music was just loud enough to be heard but not overbearing and gave the festival a really nManchester Rum Festival article by the fat rum pirateice vibe.

Having surveyed the venue the night before I did originally think that I might struggle to fill five hours in the venue. In actual fact the five hours flew by.

I found the exhibitors to be extremely knowledgeable and helpful.  Quite a few people were aware of my site and a few people came over to speak with me as they follow the site.  Which was really nice. One of my regular readers Rob Bosman came over from Ireland for the event and he ended up coming out with us for a meal afterwards.

The exhibitors were more mainstream brands – the only notable omissions I can think of were Plantation and Appleton Estate.  Familiar brands such as El Dorado, Diplomatico, Foursquare/Doorlys and Bacardi were all present and correct.

Lesser known brands such as Cana Brava and Bayou were also there jostling for position.  In terms of independents there was only Mezan Rum and a solitary Velier Clairin Sajous on display.  Even Woods Navy Rum put iManchester Rum Festival article by the fat rum piraten appearance alongside festival regulars such as Old J Spiced, Ron Botran and Mount Gay.

I had worried that I might struggle for new rums to try but I found expressions from the likes of Rhum Clement, Barcelo, Atlantico and a good few more that I hadn’t previously tasted.

As the venue wasn’t huge the event was very busy and you often had to wait a little while to chat with the brand ambassadors/exhibitors.  This wasn’t really much of an issue as most people were more than happy chatting with other rum lovers. People seemed genuinely interested in learning more about rum.  I got the impression most people were at the very least regular albeit it more casual rum drinkers.  I didn’t get the feeling people were there just to get drunk on whatever was “free”.  There is definitely more people getting into a rum in a more considered manner.

In terms of organisation everything ran smoothly with no huge queues into the event or for drinks during the festival.  I’ve spoke to Dave about an event next year and he has assured me that he will be putting something on which is bigger next year.  Demand is clearly there and he could have sold the tickets 2 or 3 times over easily.

All in all it was a really fun event and there was a lot of rum to try.  Easily around 200 different expressions from probably over 50 different brands if not more.

I really enjoyed my time at the Rum Festival.  It was great catching up with the other UK rum writers and bloggers – Steve James at Rum Diaries Blog, Indy Sing of RumCask and Simon Johnson aka Rum Shop Boy.  It was also great to meet with Jon of JBE Imports for the first time and to chat with Jonathan Rees who is organising the UK Rum Festivals at Cardiff, Bristol and Exeter.

Both Jon and Jonathan were there giving thier Tiki Cocktail Box collaboration a bit of promotion.  After seeing the awesome blue Tiki Floating Rum Shack Tiki mug I signed up……..

All in all it was a really great event and we will certainly be back there next year.

Well done Dave Marsland and co you absolutely smashed it!  Looking forward to next year already!

For more photos of the event please check out the Manchester Rum Festival Social Media pages in particular Facebook.

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