Jamaica Rum Festival to kick-start one great party
The Jamaica Rum Festival will kick-start one great party that commences in June and closes out in August, with the island marking its 60th anniversary of Independence, says Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett.
The other big event, which falls in the middle, is the greatest reggae show on earth, Reggae Sumfest, in July.
Minister Bartlett was addressing the media at the launch party for the Jamaica Rum Festival at Jasmine’s Caribbean Cuisine in Manhattan, New York, last Friday night, urging New Yorkers, particularly those born on the island, to return home to experience one of the most exciting periods in the country’s history.
“We have arranged good ‘air seats’; airlift out of New York will be the best we have had in a long time,” Bartlett told the gathering, imploring them to make their way down to the tourism capital, Montego Bay, where the rum festival will make its western Jamaica debut on Saturday, June 25.
A star-studded team of heavy hitters – the likes of Capleton, Tessanne Chin, Romain Virgo and Sanchez – is billed to perform at the festival, celebrating a rum that is at the top of the category of rums of the world.
In celebration of Jamaica 60, Appleton Estate, presenting sponsors of the festival, will offer several limited-time offers crafted by the world’s first female master blender, Dr Joy Spence. “This year, Dr Spence will continue to be a major part of the festival, leading into a very intensive consumer experience,” rum portfolio ambassador Monique Brackett stated.
Now in its fourth staging, the festival’s partners include Hampden Estates, Moneymusk and Worthy Park Estate.
Speaking at the launch, J. Wray and Nephew Foundation’s Senior Director of Public Affairs and Sustainability, Tanikie McClarthy-Allen, described 2022 as a big year for the Campari-owned company.
“Not only do we get a chance to talk about Jamaica a little more, but we get a chance to showcase Jamaican excellence; and for us, Jamaican rum represents that. Our rum represents not only excellence, but it is an intoxicating mix of the complex blend and boldness, just like our people.”
Giving a sneak peek of the how the idea was born to stage a rum festival, McClarthy-Allen said it was the heritage of playing dominoes, or having a very passionate drive or argument about sports, or talking politics or public affairs with the rum being right there.
“It was this heritage we were hoping to showcase with the creation of Jamaica Rum Festival. We were also responding to a challenge from Minister Bartlett, who said we have to figure out how to bring gastronomy to life in Jamaica,” she stated.
The rest is history. In 2018, the group started planning how it could bring to light the Jamaica Rum Festival, inviting their competitors to the table, McClarthy-Allen revealed. She added that they decided that in order to showcase Jamaican excellence in Jamaican rum, it couldn’t be about their brands only.
“It is an exclusive event with all producers participating; and while designing the festival, it really wasn’t about just drinking. It is about being immersed in what it means to be Jamaican,” the JWN Foundation executive explained.
The tourism minister noted that rum and tourism work well together, because they please ‘happy people’. His aim is to see the showcasing of the cultural richness and diversity expressed in a way that depicts Jamaica as not just a piece of geography.
“Neither is Jamaica really a country in the traditional definition. Jamaica is really an idea. A great idea born out of the truth and the motto, ‘Out of Many, One People’. So we are, then, a confluence of cultures and ethnicity, classes, races, creeds and religions, and so on. And you come to Jamaica to find a little piece,” said Bartlett.