RumFest 2018: Newcomers

Whilst Next Generation Radio gains a new follower this week, RumFest 2018 saw a few newcomers offering alternatives to ‘The Big Boys’ [blog].


Bimber London Rum [2018] Ob. Batch 001 40%

Bimber London Rum [2018] Ob. Batch 001 40%.jpeg

The distiller at Bimber is 3rd generation Polish. In Polish, Bimber means ‘Moonshine’. Their rum is currently composed of 20% pot & 80% column still action.

  • N/T/F: As neutral as neutral can be, this is surely the politest new make I’ve ever tasted – reminiscent of Nine Leaves rum in that respect [Blog]. It appears to evaporate on impact.
  • C: On the upside, you could ask this to work with any cask.

Not scored


Bimber London Vodka [2018] Ob. Batch 001 40%.jpeg

Bimber London Vodka [2018] Ob. Batch 001 40%

This vodka is made from 70% barley and 30% wheat.

  • C: Extremely palatable spirit that sits somewhere inbetween gin & column still rum with hints of sloe>juniper.

Not scored


Pixan 8yo [2018] Ob. [btl #1830/5000] 40% website

Pixan’s story is of 3 Mexicans making rum to be proud of, in Monterrey. The 3 Mexicans in question are the owner, his father and his father’s partner. Between the 3 of them, they do everything from distilling to bottling. Pixan [pronounced pishan] means ‘spirit that gives life’. They have been distilling since 2003. Their rum is made from molasses [derived from sugar cane from San Luis Potosi], distilled in a double-hybrid column/pot still and aged for 8 years in [300 litre Four Roses ex-bourbon] casks consisting of two different oak types & two different char types.

Pixan 8yo [2018] Ob. 40%.jpeg

  • N: Very Speyside Distillery-esque with firm wafts of floral glue.
  • T: It’s soft with little complexity yet also moorish and with some chew. It possesses an interesting sweetness with weird stuff following – namely vodka, painkillers and molasses.
  • F: Thick/congealed molasses-sweetness.
  • C: An accessible and pleasing rum. Apparently, the 15yo is the dogs proverbials.

Scores 77 points


Izalco volcano 1919.jpg
Izalco Volcano, 1919

It would seem that Ron Izalco has been around since April 2018, a brand under the Phenomenal Spirits umbrella. With no previous provenance [as far as I can ascertain], Izalco’s official website waxes ‘Ron Izalco takes you on a journey to the mystic volcanic lands of Central America, widely known as the “Lighthouse of the Pacific”. Standing tall at 6,447 feet, Izalco’s volcano and its magnificent fire, guided adventurous sea explorers to safe harbors for 188 years from 1770 until 1958 and then erupted again in 1966’. Ron Izalco is in reality, a blend of Central America rums from Nicaragua, Guatemala & Panama. Whilst is for sale, further reading can be found at As for the volcano: wiki

Ron Izalco 10yo blend [2018] Ob. 43%

Ron Izalco’s Ambassador Karthik Sudhir [], admits that a 10yo age statement looks good on the box but that the rum is way too woody by then. His solution is to add sugar! “That’s business”, he concludes. Whilst everything about the approach irks me, I do at least appreciate the honesty. Promoted as a ‘sipping rum’ and for its long finish, it is of course the rum that will have the last word. [Check out cocktailwonk who says ‘The pernicious issue with the “sipping rum” label is that it’s become somewhat synonymous with highly sweetened rums sold at a premium price point’.

This would be classified under the Gargano Classification as ‘industrial rum’.

Ron Izalco 10yo blend [2018] Ob. 43% WITH BOX.jpeg

  • N: Sweet vodka-like column still rum.
  • T: Sugary ice-cream sweetness.
  • F: Wafer/bone-dry, with glimmers of potential only at the end [that allow this a near miss].
  • C: This isn’t my style of rum at all but it’s won a few awards since conception. Speaking frankly, our ambassador tells us the 10yo is in fact “a crowd pleaser”, and sure enough he has people throwing money at him whilst we converse. At £57 [Oct ’18], “It’s the youth who are deciding the price-point”.

Scores a near miss


Mhoba Logo

Mhoba and Luca

It’s great to see Robert Greaves of Mhoba [blog], back at RumFest for a second year. Last year, Luca Gargano was raving about Robert’s South African micro rum distillery, suggesting it would enjoy an independent bottling from Velier. Apparently, all was quiet on that front a year on, but I’m sure it’s still on the cards.


Mhoba High Ester Rum [2018] Ob. Pot Stilled 68% 

An experimental batch with 21 day fermentation that includes dunder use.

Mhoba High Ester Rum [2018] Ob. Pot Stilled 68%.jpg

  • N: Seriously gluey. We are talking U-hu & plastics.
  • T: An unexpected dryness is the clearest tell-tale sign of such a high strength bottling, but 68% – I’d never have guessed even close given how easily it goes down.
  • F: Little.
  • C: A weird nose and little else, but what I love about Mhoba is that they are experimenting with just about every parameter within their means. That includes hand–sculpted wooden labels [to follow]. Let’s see how their spirit fares with French oak.

Scores 77 points


Mhoba French Cask Rum [2018] Ob. Limited release 2018FC1 [btl #16:100] 65%.jpeg

Mhoba French Cask Rum [2018] Ob. Limited release 2018FC1 [btl #16/100] 65%

  • N: A pokey nose [unlike the previous 68%-er], with some fruity funk.
  • T: Pokey yet controlled – just. Little depth.
  • F&C: A neutrality if little else, but there is cask/spirit balance.

Scores 77 points


Mhoba Select White Rum [2018] Ob. Batch #2018SR1 [200 bts] 58%

Here’s an occasion where the word ‘Select’ actually means something. Made from sugar pulp and fermented between 7-10 days, Mhoba’s owner is proud of this rum, mostly single distilled from only the heart cuts. The rest goes into Mhoba’s [non-select] white rum [blog].

Mhoba Select White Rum [2018] Ob. Batch #2018SR1 [200 bts] 58%.jpeg

  • N: Petroleum & agave lead the charge. There’s no dunder practise employed for this one, yet it smells like there is.
  • T: More petrol with artisanal tequila. Underlying, there is clear spirit with a little harshness.
  • F: The underlying industrial spirit is confirmed.
  • C: Issues aside, seriously, this is impressive rum. It’s still very early days for Mhoba so understandably the distillery character is not yet set. Quality-wise however, this is benchmark material.

Scores 84 points





rumfest dancer 2018

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