Historically, rum has been associated with long, oceangoing voyages. Currently, some of Puerto Rico’s rums are in the midst of their own, albeit shorter, overland trip. Throughout the fall, a series of pop-ups across the continental U.S. are introducing consumers to the island’s spirits offerings.
The 2019 Taste of Rum Pop-Up Tour is a collaboration between Rums of Puerto Rico, the government sponsored marketing alliance, and Federico Hernández’s The Rum Lab. Each of the eight pop-ups feature immersive elements of Puerto Rican. Rum Ambassador Ramon Diaz is on hand to deliver an hour long informational talk.
“We have education but there’s lots of music and drink. There are DJ’s and pleneros—a traditional Puerto Rican band that plays with small drums associated with our roots. It will be an opportunity to live the culture through music and entertainment,” says Hernandez.
As one would expect, there is also rum—lots of rum! Island giant Bacardi is represented along with some smaller, but delicious brands like Don Q, Ron de Barrilito, Trigo, Caliche. Guests have the opportunity to sample the juices both neat and in cocktails.
With stops in NYC, San Francisco, and Washington DC complete, the tour is headed to Cafe Rum Bar in LA (11.07), Broken Shaker in LA (11.14), High & Dry in Houston (12.07), The Townsend in Austin (12.19), and Ruins in Dallas (12.21).
Taste of Rum Fest
However, sipping at the pop-ups is intended merely to whet guests’ palates. The real feast will be back in Puerto Rico at San Juan’s Taste of Rum Festival.
Alexandra Salgado-Colón, Director of Rums of Puerto Rico, explains, “We’re offering a little taste of what they’re going to see at the rum festival in March . ”
Colón adds that the annual spring event will be much larger. Over 50 expressions from 12 distillers will represented and over 3000 guests are expected.
Seminars and masterclasses will be available in an education tent. Live performances will be a constant throughout the day with acts ranging from salsa bands to Spanish rock to batucada shows. Local artists will sell their work in a dedicated space.
Rums of Puerto Rico
All aspects of the campaign are the brainchild of Rums of Puerto Rico. Rums of Puerto Rico is a governmental agency funded by a tax placed on all rums produced on the island.
“Our purpose is to assist the rum industry through promotion and marketing of the brands.We do not sell rum or own any distilleries, we just [equally] promote all of the brands,” elaborates Colón.
The Director stresses that rum is a key part of Puerto Rico’s economy. She notes that the rum industry generates over 300 million dollars each year and over one thousand residents work in the distilleries.
As Puerto Rico continues to recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria as well as the subsequent inaction from DC, the spirit also provides an easy way for non-residents to lend a hand.
“If you want to support our economy, you just need to drink our rums,” states Colón.
Of course, rum’s connection to the island transcends mere economics. For many, rum is inseparable from Puerto Rico. Hernandez simply says, “Here, rum is in our blood.”