Review: The Whisky Exchange Rum Show 2023 (Trade Session)

July has been quite a busy month for me, hence the lack of writing on the blog. First I attended the German Rum Festival and after I pretty much had to jump straight into the Rum Show, both for pleasure and work.

This is Rum Show’s 3rd edition, with it being the 2nd live iteration – wrote about the first one here. As per last year it was hosted at the elegant Glaziers Hall near the London Bridge in… well, London. It took place on the 14th and 15th of July and it featured almost 300 different rums to sample as well as a cocktail bar and plenty of masterclasses. The Trade Session which I attended happened on Friday 14th of July between 12pm and 4pm.

The weather on the day was pretty Londonish with clouds and rain, but as soon as I managed to get into the event my mood completely changed due to all the liquid sunshine that was available to taste.

First thing I made my way to Chris Dennis in the hopes that I can try the legendary Appleton 17 Year Old – unfortunately it wasn’t possible to try it due to its limited availability, so I had to “settle” for some tipples of their 15 and 21 year old – can’t really go wrong with Appleton.

Now my main purpose was to find my way to the upstairs room where the UK rum distillers were, but I had to stop and greet Dave Marsland who tempted me with a never-seen-before Bounty 151. As expected it was quite strong, but the flavour was pretty easy going with toffee and caramel.

After getting upstairs I had a stroll through the UK rums, sampling some really tasty and unique distillates. They are all highlights of the Rum Show, but if I were to narrow it down I’d go with the J. Gow Fading Light, J. Gow Wild Yeast Series Kveik 2022, Islay Rum Uine Mhor, Outlier Punk Croc, Ninefold 3 Year Old TWE Exclusive, Ninefold Watson’s Reserve (super limited this one) and Drop Works Funk Drop. I also got the chance to have a sneak peek at a future J. Gow release and I have to say I can’t wait to get it in my basket…

Almost like a side quest, Meredith (rumming_head_start) popped in the vicinity and shared a bottle of Velier Hampden DOK 2017 with us which was so intense it kinda reset my palate.

Next I went to the opposite room upstairs where some other great brands were residing. Had to say hello to Daniele who was at the Velier stand and he just casually pulled a Caroni and a Vieux Sajous from under the counter for me to try – can’t say no, can I now? It’s incredible what the right ageing can do to a Clairin, that Vieux Sajous was so good and complex.

I have a rule where I can’t attend a rum event where there’s Foursquare and not see Peter Holland. He provided me with a couple of measures of the Doorly’s 14 Year Old and the Foursquare Touchstone that really hit the spot. I might split the room here, but I very much prefered the Doorly’s 14 here, it’s just so good – and the range is rather photogenic. On the same floor I also got to see Zan Kong from Worthy Park who gave me an unreleased unaged overproof Worthy Park that, if I remember correctly, was a blend of cane juice and molasses distillates. It had the usual WP fruity notes, but the overall profile was pungent and grassy.

Now I was on my way to get some fresh air outside when Dawn Davies from The Whisky Exchange spotted me and pretty much grabbed me to the Havana Club stand so I can try her Havana Club bottling which was made exclusively for The Whisky Exchange. An 11 year old Cuban rum that was bottled at 50% ABV? Don’t mind if I do! It was one of the best Cuban rums I ever tried, spicy, woody with layers of tropical fruits and tobacco – simply mouth-watering.

After actually getting some air I visited the Whisky Auction stand to see what offerings they have. There were quite a few vintage bottles and labels I’ve never seen before, but the taste wasn’t particularly exciting. The only stand-out was the Appleton Reserve 20 Year Old that was housed in some sort of clay bottling – it had the profile of a pot still rum with stone fruits galore and some aromatic spices.

Unfortunately time was short so I had to head out in order to get some food and get ready for my evening shift at the bar. Fun fact, I actually came at the Rum Show on Saturday as well, but this time I was working the bar, making drinks for the attendees, so I didn’t get to explore too much.

The Rum Show is easily one of the best rum events out there, and the fact that is so close to me makes it even better. There was a pletoria of amazing brands, small and big, and all of them had great people representing them. The atmosphere was filled with good energy from all the passionate rum people there. Once again I wish I had more time to explore and network, but that’s on me for being such a busy fella.

Well done TWE and Rum Show! Can’t wait for next year!

Some more photos dumped:


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