Wednesday, March 29, 2006

This is Were I was Last Week

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE               Contact: Tom Keating
                                   Ybor City Chamber of Commerce
                                   813.248.3712 x23               

Cane Spirits Taste Test Blows into Ybor City
Tampa’s Historic Latin Quarter Hosts International Spirits Competition

(Tampa, Florida - March 28, 2006)  
Smooth, rich, dark, sweet…?  A. Ron Zacapa rum, B. Millie Puente’s voice, C. Arturo Fuente cigars, D. All of the above.  If you said “D,” you are correct.  The first annual International Canes Spirits Festival - Tasting Competition was conducted in Ybor City this past weekend.  The Bay Area’s National Historic Landmark District was again making history as it hosted an “international tasting competition” for the sugar cane spirits industry.  The Festival spanned four days, from the judge’s reception on Wednesday evening to the awards ball on Saturday night, featuring the début of the Millie Puente Band.  The event consisted of four major components:  Tasting Competition, Rum Trail, RumFest and Rum Ball.

The key element was the Tasting Competition, which brought 28 judges from all over the world to Ybor to sample sugar cane spirits from 16 countries.  Over two days, 58 different products were judged on their aroma, initial taste, body and finish.  This is the first time an international judging competition has been held in the U.S.  According to Edward Hamilton, of the Ministry of Rum, “There are other spirits competitions around the world but none is solely for sugar cane spirits.”  Jeffrey Pogash, Directory of Communications for Moet Hennessy USA and one of the judges said, “I have been involved in a number of judging competitions and this one was flawless.”

A panel of qualified judges from across the U.S., Britain, Australia and the Caribbean awarded 28 gold medals, 18 silver medals and 12 bronze medals.  For several small brands this was the first time they have been in an international competition. Ron Zacapa Centenario - 23 year old, from Guatemala was top-rated in the premium rum category.  While many connoisseurs focus on the oldest aged rums, there were many superb white, flavored and dark sugar cane spirits as well.

Dori Bryant of Polished Palate, organizer of the overall event stated, “I am very pleased with the industry response and level of community support.  The judges and distributors loved Ybor City and are looking forward to coming back.  Ybor is an incredible venue for this event.”  A full list of results can be found at as well as more information about participating brands.


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