One could make the bold assertion that Miami was built on rum. Our lax regulations on prohibition and gambling allowed rumrunners and bootleggers from the Caribbean to continue to import the sugarcane spirit into the country after the law passed. Even if we had to put our partying on hold for a bit, our proximity with paradise destinations like Cuba and Puerto Rico facilitated day flights that promised Mojito fueled nights, so the consumption of rum hardly ceased for South Floridians.
It was during a visit to Mayagüez, Puerto Rico ten years ago that Matt Malone found out his family had been in the distilling business for five generations dating back to 1911 — more than 100 years ago. His inspiration for Miami Club Rum was instant: “I had got to keep this going for my children!” Malone said. Soon after his return, he left his successful life as a salesman and set the wheels in motion to begin a new venture. Five years later, he found a home for Destilería Canéca, LLC, the first Miami-based distillery with operations in Wynwood. This proved to be the perfect move for the entrepreneur, who got into the vibrant, burgeoning neighborhood in its infancy.
Miami Club Rum launched on February 2012, as the city’s first premium rum. Because of the extraordinary efforts Malone made to keep it a local affair, using South Florida sugarcane and other local ingredients, the production was recognized by Mayor Tomas Regalado.
Malone was set not only in making a quality product, but to involve the community in the process as well. Naturally, the local business was bound to provide jobs and opportunities in the city, but he pushed it a step further by teaming up with prominent businessman and recognized philanthropist Michael W. Kesti, who spearheaded a non-profit organization that aided families in the city’s developing neighborhoods.
Destilería Canéca set out to make “the spirit of Miami” with what Malone considers to be the city’s greatest qualities: It’s sexy, it’s fun, and it’s delicious. “Miami has become the ‘capital of the Americas.’ It is also known as the sexiest city in the world and is a cosmopolitan mecca for arts and entertainment as well,” he said. “We set out to make Miami Rum Club with these things in mind.”
Delicious indeed, and not just by our standards. The rum has been honored with several prestigious accolades across the globe, including the gold medal for best white rum at the 2013 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
This week, Miami Club Rum will showcase its wares at the Great Taste of the Grove Festival, as well as internationally acclaimed Miami Rum Renaissance. The rum-centric festival is going strong in its 7th year, and with high demand and booming attendance rates, the event is expanding with the first International Trade Expo for Rum — an industry exhibition that brings rum producers and spirits manufacturers together with importers, distributors, retailers, buyers, brokers, and spirits industry trade media.
The festival is the lovechild of the Burr family — Robert, Robin and Robert Jr. — who have become the local rum dynasty when it comes to their expertise. They’ve traveled the world extensively, to attend and participate in rum festivals in many countries, discovering different distillation processes and brands to showcase in their annual Rob’s Rum Guide. Robert senior is the founder of the RumXPs, a group of rum experts that do blind tastings and serve as judges in competitions around the globe. He has served as a consultant for many national ventures, including our own Miami Rum Club.
Collaboration with the rum fest’s founding family was an imperative part of the distillery’s success.“The Burr family has done great things for the rum industry and rum brands. They have been very influential in the renaissance of the category” Malone said. “We are grateful for their early support and friendship, as I was building the distillery and working on creating my formula. We want to work with them in the future as well. One can’t think of rum without the Burrs or the Burrs without thinking of rum. They are synonymous!”
If you can’t make it to Rum Renaissance this week, Malone’s Miami Club Rum can be found at many of our favorite drinkeries and eateries around town. As for the future? The company holds trademarks for three labels and plans to produce more lines of rum — including a spiced version — as well as vodka. As it was, so it is — rum will continues to spur our city’s renaissance. After all, rum is considered the spirit of summer, Miami’s neverending season.