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RumXP Competition Results

The Consumer Rum Jury

The Consumer Rum Tasting Jury and Awards

Enthusiastic rum consumers are gaining greater awareness and appreciation for the finest rum expressions.

A group of leading rum experts see an opportunity to invite amateur rum enthusiasts to participate in a blind tasting competition that might faithfully reflect the preferences and predilections of today's rum consumers.

The members of the International Rum Expert Panel are seasoned judges who participate in international rum tasting competitions around the globe. Their RumXP awards are among the most prestigious accolades in the spirits business.

At the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival in April, RumXP leader Robert Burr organized a Consumer Rum Tasting Jury. These qualified consumer judges were presented with an array of blind tasting samples to evaluate using the same strict standards and procedures employed by the international rum experts in their competition.

The results of these evaluations were shared with rum producers, distillers, importers and distributors. Consumer rum tasting awards were issued to the top rated spirits as judged by members of the consumer rum jury.

Consumer Rum Tasting Awards announced for Miami Rum Festival

Alongside the RumXP international blind tasting awards, the RumXPs presented their first consumer rum jury prizes based on the most highly rated rums by the newly empaneled consumer rum tasting jury.

See the Consumer Rum Jury Award Winners

The results of these consumer rum tasting evaluations were shared with rum producers, distillers, importers and distributors.

Members of the Consumer Rum Jury use the innovative Neat Tasting Glass to evaluate spirits.

Applications For The Consumer Rum Tasting Jury

A series of consumer rum tasting seminars were offered to the public at large to evaluate prospective members for the new consumer rum tasting jury.

For more information and to be considered as a member of the new Consumer Rum Tasting Jury, or if you'd like to nominate a qualified rum enthusiast, contact Robert Burr via email: rob@rumxp.com

Robert Alvarez
Robert began drinking and collecting rum in the early 2000s. While working on his PhD, Robert traveled and lived in many places, but his passion for trying new rums never ceased and he's been fortunate to try delicious rums from areas that he never imagined produced high-quality rums. Currently, he lives in San Francisco and frequents Smuggler's Cove and other great bars when time allows. He mostly drinks aged rums, e.g., Zacapas 23, Dictador, Clement, but lately has been getting into some funkier, slightly-aged, American rums like Cane & Abe and Owney's NYC rum. He is continually pushing his palate to try new and exotic rums, to date more than 500. He has not visited any distilleries, but this year will be joining the Burr family in their annual Rum Cruise where we'll get to visit at least a half dozen great producers in the Eastern Caribbean.

Ben Blee
I'm a rum enthusiast and maybe a rum ambassador but I'm not involved in the beverage industry in any way. Aside from the 2015 Rum Renaissance, the only other public rum tasting I've attended is First Midwest Rum Fest that was held in Louisville, KY in early December 2014. I have hosted and contributed to informal rum tastings for friends in private settings like my home and have acquired many bottles during driving trips to other states. I buy them to drink and share with friends who are interested, not to admire on a shelf. Along with enjoying rum on its own, I like experimenting with different rums and mixers, in traditional rum drinks and as substitutes for whiskey in classic cocktails like the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned. I tend to prefer aged rums but there are some younger white rums I like too. I like rum that tastes like rum but also has some complexity and character to its flavor. In other words, I like rum that stands out a little as unique but not so much that the flavor is off or strays too far from tasting like rum. Most mass-produced spiced rums don't appeal to me but there are few spiced rums I like from smaller distilleries. I'm not a big fan of rhum agricole but as I've explored more rum, agricole is growing on me. I've visited two Bourbon distilleries in Kentucky: Markers Mark and Labrot and Graham, makers of Woodford Reserve. I participate in rating rums on the rumratings.com website under my member name, DelectaBlee. I'm also a member of the Ministry of Rum web site but participation there has been minimal.

Alan Brennan
Rum is my favorite. I have always enjoyed it. We have a rich history of all things rum here in Prince Edward Island dating back over 300 years. Rum was traded for fish and other goods. I also share interesting rums with all my buddies. Many have become "Rum Experts" here. It's always a topic of conversation. I stock many quality rums at Sou'West Bar and Grill. I promote our "Rum Bar" at Sou'West. I feature great cocktails using great rums. I spent most of Summer's on our boat living the Parrot Head life style. Demerara rums are among my favorites. My normal brands are Plantation and El Dorado. I visited one distillery in the Dominican years ago.
Rhonda Cooper
I learned about the Consumer Rum Jury from Rob Burr's email in July 2014. I also joined the Burr's for their first Rum Cruise aboard the Celebrity Summit in November 2011. I have a Bachelors in Enology. I first got involved in rum when I held a Hawaiian themed party and served Mai Tai's and just really got into it. I enjoy Lemonhart, El Dorado, Appleton, Clement. I have visited Four Square and St. Nicolas Abbey in Barbados, St. Lucia Distillery and Bacardi in Puerto Rico. In the US I have visited Old New Orleans, Find Distillery and Ascendant. I don't write but am always turning friends on to good rum.
Cherryl Espinoza
I was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago where rum is part of the fabric of everyday life. I grew up observing a healthy, connoisseur appreciation for rum, and had my first taste as a teenager – Rum & Coke made with Fernandez's Vat 19 Rum – at home with my parents. I drank a lot of Rum & Coke and Pina Coladas in those days. Four years ago, I began searching and seeking out rum – tasting and researching the stories surrounding each brand, and discovering the mystery and magic of our interwoven history through rum. My research led me to Robert A. Burr who has graciously shared his knowledge, network, and reacquainted me with my "rum tribe." I'm now a member of the Tonga Hut's Rum Rhum Club with Forrest Cokeley and Marie King in Los Angeles! I am eternally grateful to Robert for these gifts. I enjoy sipping aged rums, but as my palette improves and I continue to learn about rum, I recognize my preference changes with each season or meal. My preferred list includes, Angostura 1919 and 1824; Bristol Spirits, Haiti; Foursquare; Havana Club; Nine Leaves; Plantation; Ron Cartavio; Skotlander; St Nicholas Abbey; and Stroh on a cold night. I'm also enjoying the cocktails I create blending younger white rums with herbs and peppers from my garden. My rum collection is small, but it spans three continents, and will continue to expand in 2016. Although, I've driven by Angostura Distillery a gazillion times, I've never visited it or any other distillery. I'm longing to visit distilleries in Cuba, and hoping to join the Rum Renaissance Cruise in 2016, I share my rum discoveries on my Instagram account, @rumandcompany, and my twitter accounts, @rumandcompany and @cherryl_siena. I also host a monthly contest on Facebook to introduce my "Friends" to rums from around the world, and offer mini rum bottles as prizes. Video content from my rum discoveries will eventually reside online at cherrylespinoza.com.
Jennifer Essex
I've been a fan of the tiki aesthetic since my first visit to Disneyland's Enchanted Tiki Room when I was a child, then when Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge in Alameda in 2006, I lived less than a mile away and found "my people." I joined their Kill Devil Club and was the first person to drink through their rum list twice! Then when Martin Cate opened Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco, I started really learning about the spirit under his tutelage. I have now tasted over 540 different rums at Smuggler's Cove and am a "Master of the Cove" and member of the "Black Tassel Brigade," the highest level of Smuggler's Cove's Rumbustion Society. I also became the in-house rum consultant/educator for Tiki Hideaway in Charlotte, North Carolina, when I moved across the country in late 2014. I generally mix cocktails with smooth white rums like Cana Brava, Don Q Cristal, and SelvaRey, amber rums such as Appleton Reserve, El Dorado 12 and Denizen Merchant Reserve. For sipping I prefer the smoother, slightly sweet rums from Central and South America, like El Dorado 21, Ron Centenario 20 and 25, Ron Zacapa, Vizcaya, Abuelo, and Ron Cartavio XO. I also enjoy uniquely flavored rums like Chairman's Reserve Spiced, SelvaRey Cacao, and Dos Maderas 5+5. I have to admit I'm not a fan of agricole style rums, but I can tell a good one from a bad one. One of the perks of becoming a Master of the Cove at Smuggler's Cove is going on a trip to a distillery with Martin Cate. Distileria Serralles hosted our group in Puerto Rico, which included a behind the scenes tour at the distillery in Ponce. I've also visited the St. George Distillery in Alameda, CA several times and hope to visit more distilleries in the near future. I recently started a blog where I discuss rum, cocktails, restaurants, and other spirit-related topics. The site is www.rumspiration.com.
Kimberly Frodelius
Rob Burr, Jr. hosted a wonderful rum tasting challenge at last year's Ohana By the Sea event in Ft. Lauderdale, hosted by the Fraternal Order of the Moai. As winner of the challenge, I was the happy recipient of an invitation to participate. While I was familiar with the Miami Rum Fest, I had not heard about the Consumer Rum Tasting Jury. I am very excited to take part! My husband and I love the art of craft cocktails, and my husband, Blair, writes the industry blog, Good Spirits News.  Although Blair is the writer in the family, I hold my own in the tasting department. I am also a proud graduate of BarSmarts. Like many, my particular area of interest in cocktails is in the social and cultural history surrounding convivial drinking. Whether it be a renaissance posset, an Egyptian beer, a gentile punch, or Mai Kai favorite, folks have gathered around the drinking bowl for millennia. I am happy to carry on that tradition. One the one hand, I like aged Jamaican rums, but I think that harkens back to the fact that I also like Irish Whiskey. What I find more intriguing are the rhum agricoles and their funky, also sherry-like, twist. Honestly, it depends on the setting. The right rum for sipping next to the winter fireside will be quite a different rum for a summer afternoon in the sun. I don't go in for flavored rums too much, although spiced rums have made their way into my mug of Earl Grey, and Goslings is irreplaceable in certain settings. The only rums I genuinely don't like are ones that are poorly distilled. My first rum distillery visit was at the tender age of 16 when our High School French Club visited Martinique. Yes, it was a different world back then. In recent years, I've visited some of America's emerging small craft distilleries, although not all of them produce rums. My most recent visit was to Black Button Distillery in Rochester, NY. I like to think that I have some influence on the author of Good Spirits News. :-)
Reed Horth
I hearth about the Consumer Rum Jury from Rob's e-newsletter and as soon as I saw it, I contacted him to find out how to participate. I am an art dealer and private curator working with HNWI and specializing in 20th Century and contemporary masters. Rum is my drink of choice. While certainly not my profession and I cannot be considered an expert, it is something I enjoy tasting, sharing and involving my friends in. I have tried a wide variety of rums in the past and settled on some which I enjoy immensely. I imagine that, with more exposure, my palette will continue to grow. Whenever I sell a piece of art, I tend to go downstairs, get a few fingers of rum and sit out on my back patio with my dogs and savor the moment. It is a perfect way to celebrate. On my proverbial shelf I have: Bacardi Exquisito, Eximo and Bacardi 8. Ron Barcelo, Ron Zacapa 23, Atlantico Reserva, Diplomatico Reserva, Pusser's (Grog), Appleton, Flor de Cana, Don Q Gran Anejo and a few others. I have yet to visit any distilleries but would enjoy that. While I do have a blog, www.robinrile.com/blog, it is mostly about art. I would like to write more content about rums though. Further, I am working on a television show pilot about art history which brings my wife and I to cultural events around the world, which could also feature rums.
Yung Hsi
I have been involved in food judging for many years. I started as a chili judge. Over the years I have been invited to judge appetizers and desserts and in the last few years, southern-style slow-cooked barbecue. Because there is sometimes a tendency to celebrate the good food with a special libation, I have also become interested in wine and spirits, but especially rum and vodka. The recent emphasis among wine and food lovers to appropriately pair them so that they play off and enhance each other is just beginning to extend to spirits. However, I found that I like my rum on its own, with no food accompaniment to confuse my taste buds. Generally speaking, I prefer my rums neat (no ice or any other additions because why dilute or pollute a good spirit), and I like one that has a good warm nose, with a robust body matched by a complex structure.
Mauricio Lacayo
I'm a principal of a nationally recognized design/build, architectural and construction company which specializes in bar, restaurant and nightclub build-outs. I am also the co-founder of a Coral Gables Gastropub named The Local-Craft Food and Drink, which focuses on locally sourced ingredients and a chef driven menu. The Local exposed me to the exciting new world of craft beer and small batch spirits which, together with my love of rum, enabled me to travel to industry specific events and distilleries over the last several years. I recently opened a bar and liquor store named The Bend Liquor Lounge in the Miami Lakes area. The Bend is a restored neighborhood bar which specializes in classic cocktails and craft beer and our motto is "Great Cocktails, Cold Beer and Good Times!" I am a fan of younger, full-flavored and funky rum. Rums that are versatile and can be used in cocktails as well as sipped on occasion. I tend to like Jamaican Pot Still type rums and Demerara rums from Guyana. I have a great appreciation for the incredible versatility and range of flavor profiles that rum offers. I find rum to be the most interesting of all spirits. I have visited Flor de Cana in Nicauraga, Bacardi in Puerto Rico, Don Pancho's affiliated distillery in Panama, and Miami Club Rum, Wicked Dolphin, St. Augustine and Key West Legal Rum Distillery in Florida. I have visited several other non-rum distilleries. I find the distillation process fascinating and always attempt to visit any type of distillery when I travel. I do not write or blog about rum at the moment.
John Maly
I learned about the Consumer Rum Jury from "Bahama Bob" Leonard in Key West at the Rum Bar and Speakeasy Inn. I lived in Bahamas and have been attending Rum Renaissance for years. I have collected several hundred bottles. I especially like Penny Blue, El Dorado 25 and just about anything from Plantation and Diplomatico. My favorite cocktails are Corn & Oil and I enjoy Guatemalan Aguardiente with Coke which is a bit like a rum and coke but with more citrus and spice. I've visited quite a few distilleries over the years, from microdistilleries to the giants. (I've also visited a dozen whisky distilleries in Scotland, and 12-15 in Kentucky, before I got into rum). Recent rum distillery visits include Bacardi and DonQ in Puerto Rico and Seven Fathoms in Grand Cayman. I've also recently done tasting trips to Trinidad, the DR, St. Martin, Saba, and Guatemala. My next rum trip will likely be to Guyana to visit El Dorado. Barbancourt in Haiti is also on my short list. I am currently working on article about Bacardi 1941.
Bill Mohler
I'm honored to have been invited back by the Burr's to participate in the Consumer Rum Jury again this year. I live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania but in the future hope to live at the beach in a warm tropical location. I started enjoying rum in the 1980s and have amassed a continuously growing collection of over 1100 different rums. I enjoy tasting, evaluating and collecting rum as a hobby. I hope to run a craft distillery someday. I especially enjoy sipping barrel aged rums as well as spiced rums. I continue to visit craft distilleries throughout the United States in order to learn, support and promote them as a rum ambassador. I'm currently assisting Hidden Still Spirits, a craft distiller in Lebanon PA, perfect their rums. You can check on my travels to distilleries on my Facebook blog under RumUnliMited. Cheers!
Beth & Eric Roe
Having been a regular at the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival we read about the panel from Rob's e-mail when it was formed for the 2015 festival. After being invited that year, we couldn't make it and we're excited to hear about this year's panel from Robin. I'm a chemical engineer who has been involved in the beverage industry since working in process and product development at Tropicana in Florida in 80s and 90s. Having direct contacts with citrus growers and processors, and tangentially Florida's sugar industry, I have always wondered why we didn't have a great domestic rum sector. That curiosity started a decades long exploration of rums and the burgeoning micro-distilling industry with Beth as my partner. My favorite rums are currently barrel aged and dark rums but looking for the right rhum or rum for the occasion always brings new bottles to the cabinet. Beth prefers good spiced rum or any that pairs well with fresh tropical fruits for that perfect cocktail. Fortunately my job allows for a fair amount of travel, which has enabled me to visit distilleries all over the United States. When Beth and I can travel together we always seek out the local brewery/brewpub and if we're lucky a distillery. I have Flipboard Rum magazine where I share interesting rum reads with friends.
Sarah Wilkinson
We learned about the Consumer Rum Jury and everything else we know about rum from watching the Burrs. I am a minor celebrity with a piratey persona. So RUM was always a question. I love ALL rums but if I have to pick one then I would say Aged rum is the category I have always loved most ... but then who wouldn't! I have a fondness for many Rums but lately I have been big on Panama and Cuba ... as far as companies Plantation always wins my heart but so many others accompany them there! I have been to 2 or 3 distilleries, all in Florida. I do have a web page and "in the works" is a rum section. I talk about Rum in public formats regularly as part of my Art Career. http://www.nigelsade.com/
James Soper
I'm an attorney in Miami with a passion for great rums and fine cocktails. I've been a rum judge for several years and enjoy the challenges and the process of evaluating fine rums from around the world.
Ricardo Vallecilo and Marloi Apostol
We learned about the Consumer Rum Jury in July 2014 in an email from Rob. We have traveled through Caribbean a great deal and have always brought back rum and have slowly built a substantial collection. We have been attending Miami Rum Renaissance Festival since 2010. We enjoy smooth spiced rums on the rocks, also white rums mixed. We have visited the Bacardi Distillery in Puerto Rico. We do not write.