Interview with Oliver Gerhardt (RumX / Rum Tasting Notes)

The (new) RumX logo, which you will also find in our reviews from now on.

I’ve always been hoping that eventually someone will come up with “our” spirit’s pendant to the Whiskybase. Sure, there was Référence Rhum, but despite being far away from perfect, its death left a huge void. Alas, we were very happy when we’ve learned about Oliver Gerhardt’s endeavors with the Rum Tasting Notes app (which is now called RumX and comes with a web version) and have been talking about and promoting it quite a bit on this little blog. Not because we have any financial interest in the project but because we believe that this is exactly what the Rum scene (i.e. nerds like you and me) needs these days, mind you. Now it’s time to get to know the person behind all of this.

Oliver, would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?

Hello, my name is Oliver and I developed the Rum Tasting Notes App. I had the first idea for a collection and tasting management app about 3 years ago during my studies, when I first discovered the fascinating world of rum. The huge variety fascinated me so much at that time that I wanted to taste more and more rums of the different styles and countries. And what I was missing at that time was an intuitive way to create tasting notes on the go with my smartphone. That was the birth of RTN. Originally, I had developed and used the app only for myself out of pure technology curiosity. However, the feedback from friends was so good that I went ahead with the experiment to release the app in the iOS App Store in December 2018. Over the past few years, I’ve continued to develop this heartfelt project with full passion, and today I have exciting news to share.

What were your first encounters with rum and how was the passion finally born?

My first contact was quite classical with the well-known representatives of the Spanish style. When I first tasted a sip of Botucal Reserva Exclusiva, I was fascinated that pure spirits can also taste good – before that, rum only ended up in drinks like Cuba Libre and Mojito. Through the great rum community, I then had the opportunity to try very many samples and thus experience the actual diversity of rum. Another eye-opening moment was a rum tasting, in one of my favorite Stuttgart bars “Die BAR”. The end of the line-up was the then brand new “Hampden Pure Single Rum” with 60% – that was an insane taste explosion and this moment also sparked my love for High Ester Rums!

Which rums have fascinated you in the recent past?

On the one hand, there were the new “West Indies” releases from Silver Seal and Rum Artesanal . This completely new flavor profile (“smoky honey”) totally captivated me. These two bottlings are a real experience! On the other hand, this was the discovery of some rums from the El Dorado Rare Collection series. Some of these bottlings could hold their own in a blind tasting with the legends bottled by Velier. Here you can still discover real treasures ;-). I’ ve gathered my three favorite bottlings that I (re)discovered in 2020 in my photo (see the featured image or click here, here and here – SCR).

The app is now called RumX? What motivated the name change?

I chose the name “Rum Tasting Notes” 3 years ago because it reflected the core of the app. However, the app has evolved a lot in the last years and more and more new functionalities have been added. So I was looking for a name that reflected this “growing up” and at the same time had a real recognition value. This process went on for over a year and RumX was then exactly the name that in my opinion describes this transformation perfectly: The X stands for the 4 pillars of the app: Xchange (exchange with the community), Xplore (browse the database), Xperience (taste like a pro) and Xtend (manage your rum collection). To celebrate RumX’s first birthday, there is a brand new website where the entire database can now be explored on the web: There will also be a completely revamped iOS and Android version this summer. So you can also look forward to great updates!

Can you tell us more about what features we might expect?

I don’t want to reveal too much here yet, but I can already tell you one secret: The highlight will be the expansion of the Xchange area. It will be possible to personalize your profile and follow friends. This way, you’ll never miss exciting tastings of your buddies and you’ll see at a glance what your circle of friends thinks of a certain rum. In this way, we want to create an even more personalized experience and bring the community even closer together.

You’ve taken quite some time off of your “normal” job. Was that a tough decision? Are you still happy with it today?

Absolutely. Since I originally developed the app just for myself, it was only available for the iOS platform. The feedback from iOS users was great and the demand for the Android version grew. However, developing the Android version would not have been feasible purely in my spare time. Since the app was no longer just a little hobby for me, but my absolute passion, I decided to take a 6-month sabbatical, dedicate myself completely to my “baby” and develop the Android version. This was an extremely intensive but also very wonderful time, as I was able to fully focus on my heart’s project.

Initially you had to pay for the app but now it is a freeware. Will it remain one?

Yes, the app will remain free. Originally the idea of in-app purchases was to cover the running costs. That worked, but it was bad that it didn’t bring the whole community on board. However, it is important to me that the opinions of all rum lovers can be included in RumX and that everyone can exchange ideas and get information. By integrating the partner stores, I was now able to create a way to break down this barrier. If you buy a rum through the app, I receive a small commission to ensure the further development of the app. The price for you as a buyer remains the same, of course.

Any last words?

Currently we are running a survey where you can actively shape the future of RumX. Among all participants we also raffle two St. Lucia Single Cask bottlings. I look forward to your participation and feedback: