In 2022, the Memphis Rum Club expanded to interact with the rum enthusiast community in new ways by launching our website, sharing reviews of rums from all around the world, and gathering together for tropical drinks. 2023 saw the club expand our programming for events, partner with local shops to release two single barrel picks, and launch a membership drive to better organize events and communications.

100 Review Milestone

It's always special hitting certain milestones. As a rum reviewer, it's especially significant considering each review takes time to research the producer and/or bottler brand, the expression's backstory, and ultimately, photographing and tasting the sample and taking down my thoughts. Then comes editing, publishing, and cross-posting to various social media apps like Reddit, Instagram, and Discord.

2023 saw us hit our century milestone with #100: Habitation Velier Forsyths WP 502. As noted in the review, I chose this bottle since it was one of the first leaps I took into higher-end rums, and boy was that worth it.

First Virtual Tasting with Raising Glasses

In September, we co-hosted our first virtual tasting session with Raising Glasses, and it was a huge hit. The 16 attendees enjoyed samples of 6 rums that the independent bottler provided, giving everyone a taste of what they have available to sell.

We sampled the following releases: Burning Cane (Barbados), Kinnaree (Thailand), Manora (Thailand), Moongazer (Guyana), The Whistler (Venezuela), and Yowie (Australia). Several commenters in the chat mentioned how they didn't know some of these places made rum, or otherwise had never tried rum from these countries before, which was special to here.

The success of this session has definitely prompted us to focus on scheduling additional virtual tastings in the future.

Membership Registration Launched

Up until December, the Memphis Rum Club has more-or-less operated on an unofficial membership basis; if you like rum and live in/near Memphis, you're in, is what I would say. However, that's not exactly a sustainable model if you want to make sure people get involved or can be reached if something fun pops up on our calendar.

We launched our Membership page on December 17, inviting anyone who is connected to Memphis to register by filling out a short questionnaire. This has already proven useful, allowing club admins to send out a general update to all our members, and will allow direct communication with club members for getting their feedback or informing them of upcoming events.

Grander, Holmes Cay Single Barrel Picks Released

This year saw us partner with two retailers in town, to release two great single barrels of rum.

Our Grander The Oaks single barrel was actually selected in October 2022, and finally made it to the shelves of Yorkshire Liquors in late May. Aged in two different first-fill ex-Bourbon casks, this 10 year old Panamanian rum features notes of vanilla, caremel, cinnamon, marzipan, saltwater taffy, maple syrup, and blanched almonds.

We joined with 901 Wine & Spirits to bring Holmes Cay Barbados 2011 to Memphis. Although we weren't able to help select the barrel from the other options, I did get to sample before the final selection was made, and it was a no-brainer. Originally distilled at Foursquare rum distillery in Barbados, this 11 year old pot & column still blend offers notes of vanilla, permanent marker, pastry dough, oak, banana peel, dried dates, and nutmeg.

It won't be too long before we announce another single barrel, so keep an eye on our blog and the Barrel Picks page throughout the year.

Website Performance and Data

Last year, we went hard on rum reviewing! Starting with review #054, we published a total of 79 posts in the calendar year, up from 53 the previous year; that's a 33% increase in reviews posted!

Here are some fun data points from the reviews we published in 2023:

  • We reviewed 48 unique brands
  • These rums came from 21 unique countries, with the most frequent country being Jamaica (18 reviews), followed by Barbados (16 reviews) and a three-way tie between Australia, Trinidad & Tobago, and the USA each having 6 reviews
  • The median rating was 7/10 stars, yielding the level of "Very Good"
  • The highest rating was 10/10 stars (#100: Habitation Velier Forsyths WP 502), while the lowest was 2/10 stars (#080: Transcontinental Rum Line Australia 2013)
  • Samples constituted 12 (~15%) of the total 79 reviews
  • The oldest rum we reviewed was #128: Velier Flag Series Guyana 1998 (24 years), while the youngest could be any unaged rums, such as #074: Clairin Sajous, #057: Rivers Royale Grenadian Rum, or #068: Providence "Dunder & Syrup"
  • Unaged rums constituted only 3 reviews (~4%), while rums with a specified age made up 56 reviews (~71%); rums with no age statement ("NAS") counted 20 reviews (~25%)
  • Unsurprisingly, ex-Bourbon casks were present in 62 (~78%) of the rums that were reviewed, while the most prevalent alternate type of cask was New American Oak with 4 (~5%)

According to our analytics, our readers' top 10 most-visited posts the past year are listed below, along with the amount of views they received:

  1. #076: Foursquare Touchstone (1,272)
  2. #060: Foursquare 2010 (971)
  3. #067: Hampden Great House 2022 Edition (938)
  4. #024: Doctor Bird (730)
  5. #047: Hampden Great House 2021 Edition (594)
  6. #026: Foursquare Sovereignty (576)
  7. #040: Doorly's 14 year (538)
  8. #038: Foursquare Isonomy (496)
  9. #009: Appleton Estate 15 year (436)
  10. #039: Holmes Cay Jamaica ITP 2007 (385)

While the club itself focuses around Memphis and the Mid-South, rum reviews resonate with people well-beyond even the borders of America. The following countries are the top 10 ranked by amount of visitors that came to our site in 2023:

  1. United States (9,000)
  2. United Kingdom (546)
  3. Canada (415)
  4. Australia (192)
  5. Germany (178)
  6. Sweden (171)
  7. South Korea (160)
  8. Singapore (151)
  9. France (150)
  10. Netherlands (146)

2024 was another incredible year, and set the stage for an exciting 2024. We are excited to see what this year has in store for us. Cheers!