The first day of the Jamaica Rum Festival (JRF) lived up to its vision of providing a fully immersive experience of the finest in Jamaica rum, food, art and music.
Organisers moved the cultural soiree an hour later (2pm) because of the rains, but that did not hinder patrons across different ethnicities and generations from turning up to curate a shared vibe in the expansive space.
Both sides of Palm Drive at Hope Gardens, Kingston, were transformed into a tropical, sugar cane-accented paradise, with the flavours of varied rums issuing the friendliest hello as attendees walked through the JRF entry tunnel.
Jamaicans are huge on fashion and the event celebrated this, with females rocking floral jumpsuits, cool, pastel trousers and bustiers, comfy sandals, to even boots and strappy heels.
Check out highlights from our BUZZ lenses in the gallery below:
The men were not to be outdone and maintained their fly in cool, dress shirts with bold colours and tropical prints, the occasional T-shirts, pastel shorts and dark skinnies, paired with loafers, sandals, sneakers and boots.
With several ‘Insta-friendly’ spots and wall murals available throughout the day, patrons had enough time to master that perfect selfie or group photo and upload their pics instantly with Digicel’s Wi-Fi hook-up.
The endless activities and booth experience kept rum enthusiasts engaged, from ‘The Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience’ to the aromatic heritage house which journeyed the 270-year history of rum production in Jamaica.
For those who wanted a more hands-on experience, rum samples were aplenty as well as the fanciest of 360 bars and aged rum there for the taking.
Hampden Estate offered its ‘Hampden Spice’ and ‘Hampden Old-fashioned’ samples, and sold its aged rum for the first time in Jamaica. Aged for seven years, the rum is usually distributed in Europe but made its debut at JRF.
The rum brand is also giving one lucky patron a chance to win an all-inclusive trip to the Hampden Estate with five friends by just stopping by the booth this weekend, and taking a photo. The participant is then required to upload the photo using the #RumFire hashtag, and tag the company for a chance to be selected on Monday (March 2).
Hampden also rounded off its offering with goodies at the end of a spin wheel, and an educational seminar, which was accessible via silent headphones (registration is recommended).
Seminars were also hosted by other rum purveyors including title sponsor, Appleton Estate, which saw the return of celebrated master blender, Joy Spence.
Senior mixologist at Caribbean Producers (distributors of MonyMusk Plantation Rums), Christopher Hyatt, also struck up favour with attendees, dancing it up while he catered to rum palettes using his top ingredient: seasoning.
“MonyMusk is one of the smoothest, richest, ageable rums that’s on the market, and my mantra is whatever you can cook, you can drink also,” Hyatt told BUZZ. “I infuse seasoning, not the traditional pine or lemon, but seasonings like pimento, garlic and thyme in my cocktail mixer.”
Hyatt served up Monymusk’s five signature cocktails, from the ‘Whispering Cloud’ which infused coconut rum and cucumber (a hit with the ladies); the scotch bonnet-intense ‘Spicy Mojito’; the ‘Mule’ which fused sorrel and sweet pepper (a favourite of the day), to the ‘Classic Fusion’ which incorporated the ageable five-year-old rum with honey, a dash of bitters and thyme.
For those who opted to not drink, there were also brands like Tru Juice, Bigga and Coca-Cola, and a CB Foods Village of salivating awesomeness to explore.
Food vendors Copperwood Pork served up charcoal pork, bbq jerk spareribs and jerk pork, while CB Foods had its pan chicken, sushi fried shrimp roll, shrimp marinara pasta, loaded drunken nachos, machambam sandwich and rum popsicle.
Happy Foods had the soup covered with red peas and veggie pepperpot soups, and Bad Dawg came through with the OG, jerk sausage and loaded chilli sausage dawgs.
Sora Japanese was also in the house for those wanting a taste of East Asia, and Nescafé wasn’t far off if you needed a picker-upper.
JRF would be incomplete without its artisans and craft workers, and CURIO Accessories was among the handmade jewellers at the event.
“I wanted to be here as I anticipated a large crowd and the accessories and pieces that I produce caters to the age group here,” CURIO founder Patricia Samuels said. “It has been very good, all the pieces have been selling and doing well from the bracelets, earrings and necklaces. Most people have been buying the earrings which range from $1500-2500, and our bracelets go from $1500-3500, and $4500-6500 for the necklaces.”