Review: The Whisky Exchange Rum Show (Trade Session)

The Whisky Exchange launched the Rum Show in a virtual format in July 2021. Now the second installment of the Rum Show and its live debut took place last weekend on 22nd and 23rd of July at the historical Glaziers Hall near London Bridge. With over 200 rums to sample and quite a few masterclasses, I wish I had the time to do more than the trade session and try them all.

The trade session started on Friday the 22nd at 12:00 and ended at 16:00 with last pours being called at 15:40. It’s needless to say I was there before they opened the doors, queuing and already in great presence. Got to briefly catch up with Steve Magarry from Sydney Rum Distillery and Lance Surujbally aka The Lone Caner – one of the best rum bloggers out there.

Now onto the Rum Show, upon entering I spoke my name and was entrusted with my trade pass and tasting glass. There were 3 different exhibition rooms, with the largest one being on the ground floor where I began my quest to sample all the (relevant) rums. Firstly I had to say hello to Gergo Murath and try some secret Worthy Park (not pictured) and some English Harbour 10 Year Old as an aperitif.

Next I got the opportunity to have a small chat with Nic & Rico from Saint Ogun, a small brand with potential. Close by, the Papa Seal Single Barrel from Gosling’s caught my eye and I had to give it a chance – as expected, a little too sweet for me, but hey, it’s a pretty bottle.

The Don Q stand had a few highlights, from the cask finishes and their 151 (which embarrassingly I wasn’t aware of) to their new 7 year old and XO. I will have to get a bottle or two for reviewing soon.

This show gave me the opportunity to finally meet Billy Abbot (The Whisky Exchange) in person after so far discussing only via emails. The bottles in the range at his stand were TWE Exclusives and all pretty much highlights with the 16 year old Clarendon bottled by Watt Rum being one of the stars. Next, neighbouring Billy’s range was the fairly new independent bottler Tamosi whose Guyanese offerings were absolutely delicious.

Last stand of this floor for me were Bristol Spirits and, at Lance’s recommendation, I tried the column still rums – I was particularly impressed with the Trinidad expression which was full of flavour and complexity – especially for something that came from Angustura.

After this I grabbed some food and slowly transcended to a new level, well, floor, where the Skylark crew along with the new S.B.S range were residing. Got the chance to try a rum from Denmark which was quite interesting and also their new Guyana. Now time was running out so I just said hello to Lee Marcus Smith of Lost Years Rum – one of my favourite new rum brands out there – and then I proceeded to the ruckus created by the room where Black Tot was.

This was the highlight of the show as I got to catch up a little with Mitch Wilson and I sampled the new 2022 Master Blender’s Reserve. The most exciting part was that I could taste some Black Tot components from Barbados, Jamaica and Guyana that I could use to make my own bespoke blend mixed by none other than Oliver Chilton, the Master Blender of the (new) Black Tot range. I was glad to be able to talk to him as he was allowing me to taste some extra goodies like the last year’s Master’s Reserve extra aged in sherry casks which was the base of the 2022 one – will talk more about it in an upcoming review.

There would be no rum festival without visiting Peter Holland at the Foursquare stand. For the 3rd act of the show I managed to try some unreleased goodies and I’ve also been entrusted with a couple of samples so I can spread the gospel of Foursquare – not that it needs me for that.

Things are getting blurry at this point, but I remember I had some delicious Trois Riviere and I also paid a quick visit to the Scottish rum stand where Sugar House, J Gow and the new Islay Rum were – all delicious UK rums worth supporting!

This was a great show with an amazing collection of brands. Oh, and I didn’t mention, my favourite thing about it was that no spiced rum was allowed on the premises, although a couple trickled through.

I spoke with quite a few enthusiast and brand representatives while trying my best to accomplish the herculean task of sampling as many rums as possible – the selection was quite overwhelming! At one point I tried to change my glass for a clean one, but I’ve been met with a snarky “No, you have to rinse it!” – I guess saying “Can we do swapsies?” is not the norm…

Unfortunately I had to skip quite a few fantastic rums I was already familiar enough with due to the limited time and, well, let’s call it alcohol fatigue.

The highlights of the show for me were the Don Q Anejo XO, Reniassance Fino Cask, S.B.S French Antilles, Foursquare Elysium, Watt Rum Clarendon, Bristol Spirits Trinidad, Tamosi Oheru SWR, S.B.S Guyana 2012, Black Tot Master Blender’s Reserve 2022, Foursquare LFT (High Ester), Foursquare Sovereignty, Trois Rivieres Triple Millesime (2001 – 2005 – 2011) and all the Scottish rums – Sugar House, Islay Rum, J Gow and Ninefold!

Also as I mentioned before, the blending session organised by the Black Tot was a superb touch for this event. And because nobody asked for it, I decided to make a short review about the blend I made – I’m so self-centered.

But first, photo dump:

Black Tot – The Rum Barrel Blend

This is my take of the Black Tot blend that I made at the Rum Show. It contains as it follows:

  • Barbados 5 year old rum – Foursquare Distillery – 30%
  • Guyana Unaged – Diamond Distillery – 15%
  • Guyana 3-5 year old – Diamond Distillery – 35%
  • Jamaica 3 year old – Worthy Park Distillery – 20%

As you can tell I attempted to make a balanced rum focused around the Guyanese profile. Oliver, who put together the blend, said that ideally it would need to rest for at least a few weeks, but I am inpatient so here we go.

Molasses based, pot and column distilled and aged between 0 and 5 years in ex-Bourbon casks. Bottled in a 10cl bottle at 46.2% ABV without any additions.

On the nose the Guyana comes through nicely. Banana bread, black tea, camomile tea, liquorice and maple syrup. Some ground coffee, cacao nibs, cloves and pink grapefruit zest. A touch of ginger and some black pepper. Mango, vanilla, yellow apples and some peppermint in the background.

On the palate it seems like it does need more time to rest. Black tea, dark chocolate, After Eights and overripe bananas. Liquorice, pear, ground coffee and black pepper. Some lemon zest and chewy oak. The finish is long with banana and liquorice.

This is good, if I say so myself, but there’s a bitterness that might be from the lack of integration of the components – or I just have to be a better blender. Anyways, pretty happy with myself.

Thank you, Rum Show!


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