We’ve spent last weekend in Berlin at and around the 9th edition of the German Rum Festival, one of the by now most important Rum gatherings in the world. But before the festival kicked off on Saturday, me and a few fellow rum geeks received an invitation by Rum Artesanal (RA) to join their boat tour (aka booze cruise) on Friday. Since I didn’t have to work anyway I already made the trip on Friday morning and did some sight seeing. With Berlin, that’s rather quick :p. I’ve checked in to our room with Maik from Rumboom, who was a sport and booked it for us, and actually had quite the journey until this point already (by the way, don’t engage in “maiksen” too much, kids). We’ve had some food and then made our way over to the jetty at the Spree, where we didn’t have to wait for the other Elitist Rum Wankers as well as Dominik and his crew for very long.
To our pleasant surprise, Noëlle from Savanna was also there and we were warmly welcomed with a HERR infused Ti’ Punch (and for me also another one with HERR only) and some nice snacks, before we began our journey along the Spree. What we’ve got subsequently was a mix of a few selected products by RA and Savanna (see the picture).
Here I was mostly looking forward to the new 14YO Traditional by Savanna selected by RA (amazing glue nose and a palate that’s totally different but typical Savanna) and the Hampden & Long Pond double cask. While I must admit that I do not understand the necessity to release such a rum (sorry Dom!), it is really nice and essentially a must buy at its price for any Trelawny rum lover! Among the people I’ve got to know on the boat was Oliver, an extremely nice guy who is developing the magnificent Rum Tasting Notes app. Right now there’s only an iOS version but the word on the street is that the Android version is in the making. I have no doubt that this app has the potential to become the “Whiskybase” of rum. So what else!?
RA’s Madeira was quite good if you are into the island’s rums, their core range blend might be the best product of the company’s standard range and I still don’t have any love for the 7YO traditional Savanna, unfortunately. Upon our return to the jetty we got some more of our day’s favorite (for me that was clearly the new Savanna) and then quickly made our way to the Lebensstern bar, easily one of the five best rum bars in the world.
The boys from Kirsch were mixing on that day but together with Mr. B. from B. I decided to do a Cadenhead’s Guyana tasting first, only to add the legendary Versailles 1985 23YO by Berry’s later. Even in direct comparison with the cask strengths by Cadenhead’s it was easily the best rum of the session. Next was the almost equally amazing AWM (Versailles 1988 18YO), followed by the PM 1991 14YO and the slightly too alcoholic VSG 1990 15YO. So that wasn’t too bad but we were looking for more. The Velier bottlings of the Damoiseau 1989 and 1991 were easy targets. Now with the official full proof bottlings the consensus is clearly that the 1991 is miles ahead but with the two Veliers the 1989 was our favorite.
Flo from BAT had a pair of Gardels, Maik… well, I cannot remember but Kenneth, who got himself a Diamond 1996 SVW, left his dram with us for a bit too long (where did you actually go?)… sorry for what happened then 😀 (the compensation was about adequate, don’t you think!?). I’ve had another Mai Tai and a few cool chats with the rum buddies and… heck, it was already about half past three – and we still had to get home. If you’ve followed the writing closely, you may be able to tell that the morning after wasn’t exactly the best I’ve ever had (got up at around 9 already… gosh). After scanning the area for a turbo boost the best I could come up with was an awful Cappucino (Berlin, what’s wrong with you and your coffee shops!?), which did the trick for the next few hours but upon arrival at the fair I felt like going to bed again… Kirsch did have some freshly squeezed sugar cane juice with lime and J.M Blanc and while the sugar was a good energizer, the rhum actually did make me go to bed again for a good hour and a half. So this is where the actual Rum Fest did start for me, at about 4 o’clock on Saturday. But more on that in Part II.