Barbados Rum Festival, Industry In Jeopardy

BarbadosThe Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival invites visitors to enjoy cooking demonstrations from a lineup of international and Bajan chefs, wine and rum tastings and pairings from wine and spirits experts. Sound like a good time? Better go this year. Barbados and other Caribbean islands may be out of the rum business before long, and for an unexpected reason.

“Any discussion about rum is a discussion about Barbados, and vice versa,” says the Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival on its website. “It’s been an integral part of the island nation’s heritage, history, and economy for over 350 years.”

Indeed, Barbados is known for some of the finest rum in the Caribbean if not in the world. Packed with over 1,500 rum shops on the 166 square miles of island, the island’s rum industry is facing stiff competition from U.S. government subsidized rum industries in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

U.S. subsidized rum makers are paying $20 per ton for molasses, a key ingredient in rum, while Barbados and other Caribbean manufacturers are paying over $200 per ton.

“We find that extremely difficult to compete [with] and it is a challenge at this point in time,” said Dr. Frank Ward, Chairman of the Barbados Rum Committee in a Barbados Advocate report.

Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles with a population of about 284,000, of which 80,000 live in or near the popular cruise port of Bridgetown.

This year’s Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival is a go and many events are sold out.
Hosted by Travel + Leisure magazine, the festival runs November 16 – 19, 2012.



[Photo Credit: Whitney Owen]

Five Alcohol Factories To Kick Off Spring Travel

Spring is in the air, which means that most of us will be swapping our mulled wine and spiked apple cider for beer gardens and rooftop bars. Behind every good brew, though, is a distillery that made your buzz possible. And many of those outlets have turned into touristic destinations for the curious traveler in search of an off-beat destination – something in contrast to the humdrum monument or public art gallery. Here are five factories to get your planning started.

Beer
The Guinness Storehouse: Ireland
Unlike many bartenders in the US, the Irish take their Guinness drinking very seriously and after a day at the Storehouse, you too can learn the “perfect pour.” Tickets cost around 13 Euros and include a free pint of Guinness at the rooftop bar, which arguably has one of the best views of the city. The building’s seven-story exhibit takes you though the brewing process, giving guests a better understanding of just how much effort goes into creating good tasting beer. Student discounts are available and for a more in-depth experience, schedule a specialty tour.
St James’s Gate, Dublin 8

Scotch
Glenkinchie Scotch Malt Whiskey Distillery: Scotland
If you find yourself in Scotland, good luck avoiding a Scotch tour, as malt whiskey distilleries are scattered throughout the country. The Glenkinchie Distillery is close to Edinburgh, making it an easy day trip for travelers. Tickets cost 6 GBP and tours are offered daily. A complimentary taste of Glenkinchie’s 12 year old single malt is given to anyone who pays the 3 GBP entrance fee. More extensive tours are available for a slightly higher price but more freebies are provided, making it a worthy investment.
Pencaitland, Tranent, East Lothian EH34 5ETGin
Plymouth Gin Distillery: England
Black Friars Distillery has been the happy home of Plymouth Gin since 1793 but the buildings themselves date back to the early 1400s. The Refectory Room is a medieval hall and cocktail lounge that is the highlight for many guests, as it’s said to be where the Pilgrim Fathers sat before sailing on the Mayflower. Tours are held daily but have limited space so make sure to plan your visit in advance. Don’t forget to drink your free and flavorful gin and tonic before leaving.
60 Southside Street, The Barbican, Plymouth, Devon

Vodka
Filliers Vodka Distillery: Belgium
Belgium is certainly known for top-tier chocolate but it is also home to Filliers Vodka Distillery. Tours are offered Monday-Saturday for groups of 15-20 people and last around an hour and a half, giving guests a sneak peak into the distillation process complete with vodka tasting. The minimum price for guided group tours is 120 Euros. For travelers craving a bit or solitude, Filliers is perfectly situated in the middle of the countryside and surrounded by meadows and picturesque fields. The distillery produces a number of liquors including Goldlys Belgian Whisky, Van Hoo Vodka and the traditional Bols Genever.
Leernsesteenweg 5, Deinze, Belgium

Rum
Bacardi Rum Factory: Puerto Rico
Those who prefer a little rum to their drink should head straight to Casa Bacardi in Cantano, Puerto Rico. Starting in Santiago de Cuba, the popular brand has since made its way to Havanna, San Juan, Miami, Bermuda and almost certainly your local bar. Daily tours run every 20 minutes and include an interactive glance at Bacardi’s history starting with the origins of rum making to a demonstration of how to make mojitos. Each guest is given two free drink tickets but drinks during the tour are not allowed, so make sure to hold onto your vouchers for the outdoor Bacardi bar.
Road 165, Rte. 888, Km 2.6, Cataño, 00962

[flickr image via chacrebleu]

Malibu Rum contest launches search for traveling radio correspondent

summer contests 2011Tune in, Radio Maliboom Boom.

Malibu, the coconutty rum that’s like summer in a bottle, is looking for one outgoing, creative, beach-bum-lifestyle-loving man or woman for their nationwide radio correspondent search.
The chosen one will travel across the country attending concerts, reporting from the road, interviewing celebrities, and “celebrating the season of the sun.”

The Correspondent position was developed to find the emcee for the Station Invasion Concert Tour–a 10-city musical series–which will “bring the spirit of the Caribbean from coast to coast.
As the Radio Maliboom Boom Correspondent, you’ll introduce the tour and musical acts, do video and blog posts, Facebook updates, and tweets. You’ll also represent Malibu by conducting and participating in video, radio, and media interviews across the nation.

Applications are being accepted online through May 15, 2011. You must be 25 and over, fill out an application, and submit a video “reel” that creatively showcases why you should be chosen, incorporating three key messages about Malibu (the rum, not the city). Three finalists will attend training in Malibu’s homeland of Barbados from June 20-23. The summer stipend for the Correspondent will be $15,000-and all the dancing (and, presumably, rum, sunscreen, and hair of the dog) you can handle. Cheers to summer!

Food & Wine Classic in Aspen celebrates 29th year; get discount tickets until March 15th

food and wine AspenBetter put your cardiologist on speed-dial; it’s almost time for the 29th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. The nation’s most-lauded culinary festival will be held June 17-19, featuring food, wine, and cocktail seminars, cooking demos and competitions, grand tastings, and book signings by celebrity chefs like Tom Colicchio, José Andrés, and Michael Symon. Get your tickets before March 15th, and you’ll save $100 off the $1,185 ticket price. Hey, no one said gastronomic blowouts in Colorado’s ski town Shangri-la come cheap.

The price includes attendance at five Grand Tastings, where you can sample the goods from over 300 vineyards, breweries, and distilleries, as well as charcuterie, cheese, olive oil, and chocolate.

Think it sounds a little too high-falutin’? Take note of a few of this year’s witty new seminars: “Sauce on the Side: Wine, Wieners & the Works,” with restaurateur Danny Meyer; “Global Street Food” with chef/one of half of Two Hot Tamales’ Susan Feniger, and “One Pot Meals” with Ming Tsai. Also sure to be popular: “Sophisticated Sipping Rums,” “Top Chef: Salty and Sweet,” with Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio, and “Cheeses and Wine from Spain.”

FOOD & WINE donates two percent of the net proceeds from all Classic tickets sold to Grow for Good, benefiting Wholesome Wave Foundation. Grow for Good is FOOD & WINE’s national initiative dedicated to supporting local farms and encouraging sustainable agriculture. To purchase, call 877-900-WINE or click here.

Daily Pampering: Rum flights at Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne

While the U.S. and Cuba continue to talk through travel options, the Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne has found a way to bring a bit of Old Havana to Florida. The dark, sophisticated and sultry RUMBAR in the hotel sets the mood for what could be a steamy night. Thanks to the endless bottles of rum, however, guests won’t go thirsty.

On the weekends, RUMBAR transforms into Miami’s only upscale live Latin music venue with Grupo Nostalgia, a four-piece band in white dinner jackets, reminiscent of vintage Cuba. While you’re getting your groove on, take advantage of some of the unique and tasty offerings. Guests can choose from 52 rums, cachacas and piscos from 18 countries, an extensive cigar collection and, if you’re so inclined, VIP Rum Lockers for storing personal bottles.

Not that hip to your rum yet? No worries. The hotel offers rum flights so you can taste a few of the best.

On the flight menu:

  • Atlántico- Dominican Republic / aged between 5-15 years / $225 per bottle
  • Zacapa- Guatemala / aged between 6-23 years / $215 per bottle
  • Santa Teresa 1796 / aged over 15 years / $200 per bottle

Don’t worry my rum-tasting travelers, you don’t have to shell out a few hundred for a sip. The price of the flight is $30 and includes three (3), one (1) ounce pours of each rum.

Want more? Get your daily dose of pampering right here.