An Interview with Dave Marsland – Manchester Rum Festival

.An Interview with Dave Marsland - Manchester Rum Festival the fat rum pirateAn Interview with Dave Marsland – Manchester Rum Festival. Much like Peter Holland I could have put any number of monikers after Dave’s name..

I am producing this interview series to try and keep people who are doing good things in the Rum World, in the public view.

It’s easy for me to remain in the spotlight as I blog regularly. Unfortunately most people actually working in the industry don’t have time to blog. Some aren’t able to work or have had their livelihoods disrupted considerably during these worrying times.

Dave has been doing a lot of live streams etc though, to keep busy.

In 2017 Dave launched Manchester Rum Festival, I actually interviewed him back in 2018 about it ,should you wish to learn more about the event. He has also over the past few years opened a rum themed bar and a Spirits Emporium. As well as repping for Chairman’s Reserve, Rhum Clement and Rhum St. Barth, amongst other things.

So it is  a shame to see that Drinks Enthusiast, which is Dave’s blog will no longer be updated on a regular basis. It is on a bit of a hiatus as he tends to other things. As you can see he is a busy man!

Trying to re-organise Manchester Rum Festival is his current priority.

So lets hear from him

1. Firstly, please give a brief introduction on yourself and your role in the rum world

I’ve been working in the world of rum for the last 14 years, first working with Atlantico from Dominican Republic before moving to a primary focus on St Lucia Distillers (Chairman’s Reserve, Bounty and Admiral Rodney) as their ambassador for the last 7 years.

I also currently work with Rhum Clement and Rhum St Barth and have supported numerous other brands with judging their cocktail competitions or hosting their events, including Havana Club, Goslings, Wood’s, Brugal and El Dorado. In 2017 I opened Riddles Emporium and was nominated for both IWSC and ThinkRum as Independent Retailer of the Year, and 2018 saw Marigot Bay Bar & Café, a Caribbean bar, open in Manchester. In 2017 I created the Manchester Rum Festival to become the largest rum gathering in the north.

Rhum Clement Vieux Select Barrel Rum Review by the fat rum pirate2. Obviously, COVID-19 has been devastating to the hospitality industry, we cannot avoid this fact, it has had a huge impact on us all. How damaging has it been to your business/role and what have you done to try and minimise this?

It’s been damaging in regards to the overall sales of St Lucia Distillers and Rhum Clement due to the lack of use within the venues themselves, however with online retailers it has not seen a complete collapse.

With that, certain activations have been put on hold and others moved forward, including our Chairman’s Spice Lab programme which see’s bartenders complete a written submission to create and produce their own spice rum against 9 other countries. We’ve also taken part in online tastings and showcases, and still on course to release a new expression for Admiral Rodney in June.

2. What first attracted you to the Rum World? What were your first experiences with rum?

My first rum experiences came from the pubs drinking Lambs Navy and cola. Since then, and possibly due to me working in bars since I turned 18, I’ve encountered many more expressions that I still love today, including Chairman’s Reserve, Gosling’s, Myers and Havana Club.

3. How do you think the Rum World has changed over the past 5 years? Where do you see the Rum World in another 5 years? Where would you like to be in 5 years?

It’s changed for the better I’d say, with consumers asking more questions about what they are drinking, the provenance of the rum itself, recommended serving suggestions etc. The chance to explore more has helped, similar to the boom in gin several years ago.

An Interview with Dave Marsland - Manchester Rum Festival the fat rum pirateI’d say in 5 years time that there will be a rise in British based rums and companies, although a level-out of the flavoured rum category. For me personally, I’ll still be in the rum trade with St Lucia Distillers and making sure Manchester Rum Festival is on par with the likes of RumFest London and other international festivals!

4. What is your stance on additives in rum? Would you like to see more Universal Regulation?

Yes. Label and marketing transparency is a must to remove the cheek that some rum brands think they can get away with. However, personally the only way to do such would be by country to country. Similar to the whisky industry, whisky from Scotland has its regulations, Ireland are different. America is different again. Yet all 3 create whisk(e)y as a category.

There’s AOC in Martinique, Barbados are in talks on their own GI, which are great starts and can regulate how some of the bigger rum producer countries can label their rum with more transparency, whether pure or flavoured. Here in the UK though, as an example, the use of flavours needs a regulation so to be similar to what is already coming in from the likes of Barbados, St Lucia, Jamaica etc. So not to confuse customers, but of course identifiable that the rum has been adulterated in the UK and a list of with what.

For me it should be fresh spices and flavours only, and still hit the 37.5% abv mark. Anything less, in my mind, should be a ‘flavoured spirit’, and depending on the amount of added sugar, a rum liqueur or crème.

5. Speaking of rules and regulations what is your opinion on the current issues over the Barbados/Jamaica rum GI proposals?

Rum from either country should be produced from cane to bottle (where possible on the cane, I understand not every distillery has their own sugar cane fields to use). If you take a finished product and take it to another country for continental ageing or adulterate it with added flavours, then it’s no longer solely the country of origin that should be stated.

In my mind, you can’t call a Jamaican rum ‘product of Jamaica’ if it’s been produced and aged in Jamaica, then aged further in the US with added spices. That to me is a Jamaican/US blended flavoured rum.

6. How do you view your role within the Rum World? What do you hope to “bring” to the rum community? Do you reach out beyond your day job in rum?

I’ve earned recognition over the years but I think that’s down to the role in proving that rum brands should invest in the north of England too. Whether through my Manchester Rum Festival or product launches / events / cocktail competitions etc. I have a focus on St Lucia Distillers, Rhum Clement and Rhum St Barth. I will never discount helping and supporting the rum category as a whole.  Especially when it comes to consumer focused activities. I’ve been called the Ian Burrell of the North, which is humbling.

7. Do you actively use Social Media to reach out with other Rum Drinkers and Enthusiasts? If so where might we find you?

Of course! I’m a member of a whole host of rum groups on Facebook and follow many bloggers, brands and bars. Where I share updates on Manchester Rum Festival and my new ‘Rum on the Couch’ video series. Plus sharing anything I feel is useful to grow the rum category itself, whether cocktail recipes, videos or events that viewers should get themselves involved with.

As ‘Drinks Enthusiast’, I’m in a lucky position to have grown my business through a growth period not just rum, but in spirits as a whole. So conversations with fellow industry folk, bloggers, media personalities etc is now a norm. Looking back, it would have been a lot harder when I first started in this industry to communicate with others as quickly as we do now.

8. Which rum producers are your current favourites?

St Lucia Distillers by far. I do love the products from Rhum Clement and Rhum St. Barth, Hampden Estate, Appleton Estate, Mount Gay and Gosling’s.

9. Which rum producers/brands do you think are currently flying under the radar? Name 3 rums people may not have tried but really should give a go

St Nicholas Abbey is underrated by far. Their 60% ABV Overproof White Rum is a cracker. I’ve become a fan of Mauritius based rums over the last couple of years. With New Grove and Bougainville a must to sit down and experience.

10. Finally, what is your idea of the perfect rum and/or rum drink/cocktail?

Straight in a crystal cut glass. Doesn’t matter what the expression is, just give it to me as it comes!

If I were to have a cocktail though, the Spiced Negroni works for me. Equal measures Chairman’s Reserve Spiced, Campari and Velvet Falernum.

So there we have it. Dave’s take on the current situation and his views and opinions on the future of r(h)um.

I am especially pleased that we have Dave “Up North” – he sometimes even visits Newcastle! The Manchester Rum Festival has been a particular welcome addition to the Rum Calendar over the past few years. I sincerely hope Dave continues to have success with that. He has done some great things for Rum in Manchester for sure.

Should anyone wish to follow Dave’s “Rum on the Couch” video series and his other activities in the Rum World then you could do worse than join The UK Rum Club as he updates us regularly there.

And on that shameless plug we’ll call it a day!

Cheers for reading

An Interview with Dave Marsland - Manchester Rum Festival the fat rum pirate







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