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An Intimate Evening with Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Ian Burrell has had a lot of firsts in his career. He's the founder of UK RumFest, Europe's first-ever rum festival; the first person to set up a rum shack in Antarctica; and J Wray & Nephew's first rum brand ambassador in the UK. On Thursday, March 7, he experienced another first; guest of honour at the Hampden Estate-hosted intimate 11-person dinner inside the Regency Room at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel. Joining Burrell around the table were blenders and executives from Hampden, Appleton and Monymusk, as well as Thursday Food.

The evening began with cocktails in the Regency Bar & Lounge. The welcome cocktail of Trelawny N Ting (Rum Fire overproof rum, Ting and honey syrup) was followed by a choice of five cocktails made with Hampden, Appleton or Monymusk rums. They were Hampden Pine & Ginger (Hampden Gold, pineapple juice and ginger beer); The Cadillac (Rum Fire, ginger ale, Angostura bitters); Island Vibe (Monymusk Whispering Breeze coconut rum liqueur, pineapple and cranberry juices); Gingery Wray (Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum, orange, pineapple and fresh lime juices); and Stormy Valley (Appleton Estate Signature Blend, ginger beer and Angostura bitters). After these strong albeit well-crafted drinks, a substantial meal was needed.

The Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel's award-winning culinary team did not disappoint. Dinner commenced with an amuse-bouche of jerk shrimp. Sweet, plump and flavourful, the one-bite definitely got guests salivating. This was followed by the soup course, with most of the guests opting for the lobster bisque which was poured tableside. The bisque was velvety, rich and absolutely delicious and the plump lobster meat was sweet with freshness.

There were six appetisers from which to choose and most guests opted for the crab back and the curried goat rice balls with Rum Fire-infused chutney. The crab was full of flavour, which a squeeze of fresh lime juice only enhanced. The curried goat arancini (aka rice balls) was tasty with the crispy crust a perfect foil for the creamy rice and tender shreds of goat meat.

For their entrées guests opted for Rum Fire chicken quarter; grilled filet mignon; Madras curried shrimp with Hampden rum-infused tropical salsa; steamed snapper, rack of lamb; and Scotch bonnet polenta. Upon the first bite, the rousing conversation about rum lulled and the silence then broken only by Burrell, who said: “That means the food is really good; we all stopped talking.” He was right, the food was extremely good.

Dessert was a treat! Ruth Hussey made her signature light rum cake that was accompanied by a flight of three rums — one from each distillery that was represented. Hampden offered its Pure Single Rum, Appleton its 21-Year-Old and Monymusk served its Classic Gold Rum.

What began as a chance meeting in Berlin developed into a friendship between Hampden Estate Director of Marketing Christelle Harris and Burrell. They bonded over their love for rum, which Burrell says “is not just a drink, but a way of life”. During dinner, Harris reminisced about how helpful Burrell was to her when she was representing Hampden at the UK Rum Festival a year after their Berlin meeting in 2010. Since then they've found ways to collaborate and on March 7, a select few were welcomed into their rum-fuelled friendship.