Yolo Rum at Independent Spirits Expo

Date: Tuesday, October 9th 2018
Press Tasting: 5:00-9:00PM

The annual gathering of independently produced spirits from around the world – vodka, gin, rum, tequila, pisco, cachaca, brandy/cognac/Armagnac, whisk(e)y (American/Scotch/Irish/Japanese/Canadian/World), liqueurs, mixers, etc.!
Yolo Rum Chicago Indie
Yolo Rum will be there meeting with fascinating people who are changing the landscape of backbars around the world! Last year the event had over 600 spirits poured by 130 distillers, brand ambassadors, importers & distributors!!
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Yolo Rum Colorado Investors Party

Yolo Rum Colorado Investors Party: Denver CO: August 18, 2018: Photo Gallery

On Saturday August 18, 2018, Yolo Rum took over the atrium at the Hilton DoubleTree in the Denver Tech Center.  We were joined by hundreds of energized investors as we celebrated our successful crowdfunding campaign running on the Wefunder platform.  In June of 2018 Yolo Rum set out selling shares in pursuit of becoming the first “democracy powered” major spirit brand and company.  This was our opportunity to come together and connect with other owners and ask questions about the equity crowdfunding campaign, as well as the company, and plans for the future.  Kathie J, Larry Ulibarri, and Producer Wignz were on hand with the rest of Team Yolo Rum to enjoy an evening of music, food, and Yolo Rum cocktails.

Miami Rum Festival 2016 Awards Yolo Rum Gold ‘Best in Class’

2016 Miami Rum Festival RumXP Best in Class Medal
2016 Miami Rum Festival Consumer Rum Jury Gold Medal

RumXP International Rum Expert Tasting Panel selects Yolo Rum Gold as ‘Best in Class’ in the ‘Aged 9 to 12 Year’ category at the 2016 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival.

The 2016 edition of the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival recently wrapped-up at the DoubleTree by Hilton Miami Airport Convention Center in Miami, Florida.  The festival, now in it’s 8th year, attracts rum experts, industry professionals and rum enthusiasts spanning the globe as one of the premier rum events in the world.  This year we were excited to make our second straight appearance at this world-class event hosted by Robert Burr along with his wife Robyn and his son Rob.  One of the highlights of the event is the International Rum Expert Panel tasting competition which occurs on the events first night.  The esteemed Rum Expert Panel (RumXP) boasts some of the most respected and revered rum experts in the world, and each year a multitude of rum expressions from around the globe enter the competition.  Last year Yolo Rum was able to score a RumXP Gold Medal for our 10 year aged Gold expression, and we were happy to compete once again with some of the world’s finest rums on rum’s biggest stage.  The RumXPs would not be let down, as we were proud to be recognized once again as one of the finest Rums on the planet.  This year, we were honored to be selected as the “Best in Class” Rum for the “Aged 9 to 12 Year” category.  On top of our “Best in Class” award, we were highlighted by the festivals Consumer Rum Jury as well.  The Consumer Rum Jury is comprised of 20 well qualified rum enthusiast consumers, collectors and experienced rum travelers, offering the perspective of the active and engaged rum buyer in their evaluations.  The Consumer Rum Jury gathers at the festival for blind tasting sessions under the supervision of the International Rum Expert Panel team.  We were incredibly excited to be chosen by the 2016 Consumer Rum Jury as a Gold Medal award winner.  It was truly a great honor to be recognized by such an elite group of rum experts as one of the finest rums in the world, by both the RumXPs and the Consumer Rum Jury.  Once again a phenomenal achievement for Yolo Rum’s master distiller and rum blender, Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez, one of the world’s most respected and honored “roneros.”

Phil is congratulated by Don Pancho
Don Pancho Fernandez with Jessica
Miami Rum Festival 2016 Best in Class award certificate
Miami Rum Festival 2016 Consumer Rum Jury Gold award certificate


Yolo Rum owner Phil displays Miami Rum Festival award
Yolo Rum founders Jessica and Phil with Miami Rum Festival award

Yolo Rum crew at 2016 Miami Rum Festival

Fifteen judges participated in six tasting sessions over the course of two days.  Judging over 100 of the finest rums in the world presented for evaluation this year.  The 2016 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival Judges included:

Juan del Busto
Rum Collector / Spirits Judge


Marie King
Tonga Hut Los Angeles


Suzanne Long


Matt Pietrek


Martin Cate
Smuggler’s Cove San Francisco


Ian Williams
Washington, D.C.


Scott French


Nigel Sade


Additional photo credit to RumXP Judge Matt Pietrek of cocktailwonk.com

The view from RumXP Bahama Bob Leonard

Additional photo credit to RumXP Judge Bahama Bob Leonard

Click here for a complete list of 2016 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival RumXP Medal Award winners

Miami Rum Renaissance Festival 2016

Miami Rum Renaissance Festival 2016: April 15-17, 2016: Photo Gallery

The event takes place in Miami, as the name suggests, and it’s only a couple minutes away from South Beach, but this isn’t a gathering of spring-breakers chugging cheap rum, this is rum for grown-ups.  For consumers, the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival is one of the world’s premier international rum events, as hundreds of rums are displayed, offering an unprecedented and exciting opportunity for rum enthusiasts to sample, discern and learn about the world of fine rums. For professionals, this is the world’s largest and most important trade exposition for rum. 

For professionals, this is the world’s largest and most important trade exposition for rum.  Furthermore the event offers the opportunity to rub shoulders with dignitaries, notable experts, and more.  And while very little rum is actually made in Miami, rum reputations are.  

Hanging With Bahama Bob in Key West, Florida

Yolo Rum now available at the Rum Bar at the Speakeasy Inn after a visit to see our friend Bahama Bob Leonard in Key West, Florida

It’s not to often that you get a chance to go out and sing karaoke with Bahama Bob.  It’s just not an every day occurrence, so when the opportunity presents itself, then you better be ready to seize the opportunity.  All in a days work, and we couldn’t have asked for anything more from our journey to Key West, Florida to link up with one of the most notorious and interesting people in rum, at one of the most storied and widely recognized rum bars in the world.  So finally, here we were, with the Yolo Rum Outback parked in front of the the Rum Bar at the Speakeasy Inn on Duval St.

This would be Yolo Rum’s introduction to Key West, and likewise, for many in Key West, this would be their introduction to Yolo Rum.  Bahama Bob has had plenty of exposure to Yolo Rum.  He was on the RumXP judging panel at the 2015 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival that awarded Yolo Rum Gold a RumXP Gold Medal, and he has also been kind enough to review Yolo Rum for his blog “Bahama Bob’s Rumstyles”.  For many others that we had the opportunity to meet and visit with during our tasting at the Rum Bar at the Speakeasy Inn, Yolo Rum might not have been a familiar name yet, but Don Pancho Fernandez was a name that they were certainly well aware of.  This is what put us on the radar for Bahama Bob, as his prominence in the rum world has lead to a personal friendship with Don Pancho Fernandez, the Master Distiller and rum blender behind Yolo Rum.  In most cases, just knowing that Yolo is a Don Pancho rum was all the info necessary to be accepted with open arms.  Each cocktail and sip of Yolo was followed by overwhelming approval, and soon enough we had a room full of believers.  And as Bahama Bob carefully crafted cocktail, after Yolo Rum cocktail, it gave us the opportunity to mingle with our new friends.

Bahama Bob making drinks at the Rum Bar at the Speakeasy Inn

One question or comment that would come up often would be about the name Yolo Rum, so it provided a great opportunity to educate about the name.  “What does it mean, and where did it come from?” was often the line of questioning.  Some were not familiar with the acronym “You Only Live Once”.  For us, Yolo means to slow down, enjoy the moment, make the most of now, live life, experience the best things because you deserve it.  You Only Live Once!  Like the roman poet Horace says “carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero”, loosely translated “Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow (the future)”.  And then the light turns on, and it makes sense.  The name.  The meaning.  The message.  The best rum in the world can only be accompanied by a name that embodies what it means to reflect in that moment and be present.  Tomorrow is promised to no one.

Yolo Rum on the top shelf at the Rum Bar at the Speakeasy Inn


New Yolo Rum friends with some new shirts


All-in-all it was an amazing time and a memorable experience that was very special.  The bartender and the venue made it a moment that Yolo Rum could be so proud of.  We made many new friends, as we usually do at these tastings.  There was our new friend Sam, a co-worker and friend of Bob’s from the Speakeasy Inn, and also a fellow member of The Rat Key Rum Tasters Association.  She promised to rock one of our Yolo Rum shirts at one of their upcoming weekly rum tastings and snap a photo for us.  We also got to hang out with birthday girl Toni, who was nice enough to pose with a shirt and bottle for us.  And there were so many others.  Thanks so much to everyone that made it down to the tasting at the Rum Bar.  Now we just need our own original signature Bahama Bob Yolo Rum cocktail, and then maybe we can be in one of Bahama Bob’s famous cocktail recipe books.


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