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Birmingham Rum Festival to drive growth of "party" spirit

Published:  28 April, 2016

Birmingham's first full-scale festival of rum is coming to the city this summer.

Birmingham's first full-scale festival of rum is coming to the city this summer.

Rum is gaining in popularity in England's second largest city and organisers hope to maintain this momentum with the Birmingham Rum Festival on Saturday, July 2 at bar and live music venue The Cuban Embassy.

Nick Rendall, co-owner of rum specialists The Cuban Embassy, thinks the time is right to take the spirit to the next level.

He said: "The Cuban Embassy is an entertainment venue. We have live music every night and rum is suited to that type of experience. If you drink whiskey all night it's likely to you in a down-tempo mood. Rum is sugar-based so it will put you in the party spirit."

And rum's relaxed imaged is helping to bring new customers to the Cuban spirit.

"Whiskey and brandy have a strict code with what they can put on their labels and have to follow the rules," Rendall explained. "It's more strictly controlled, but rum is a bit more relaxed and I think customers are responding to that."

The event is being supported with investment from several well-known rum brands including Bacardi, Brugal, Mezan, Doorly's and R L Seale's.

The Cuban EmbassyThe Cuban Embassy

Over 500 visitors are expected to visit their stalls which will be set up over two floors inside The Cuban Embassy and on its terrace on July 2.

The festival's official sponsor is Bacardi, which was founded in Cuba in 1862.

The city is seeing something of a rum emergence and is poised to compete with gin, the spirit scene's current star player.

"We try to get people to be open to tasting different types of rums and not bar crawl the same ones every time," Rendall said. "Birmingham's gin scene has been big for a few years now, but there are quite a few rum-tiki bars doing great cocktails, like the Island Bar and the Prince of Wales.

"Rum uses a Solera system, so while it might say it's a six-year rum on the label, actually there's a blend of maybe two, six, eight and 12-year-old rums. You get a great variety of flavours."

Organisers are aiming to create a carnival atmosphere with live salsa, samba and reggae music and Latin American and Caribbean-inspired dishes to complement the rum selection.

More information is available at the festival website