I attended the Chicago Rum Fest on April 27, 2019, and below are my notes from it:
It was small, very small. I’d say half the size of last year’s Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, and I think I’m being generous there.
The website featured a number of producers that simply were not there, at least not on the tasting floor. I did not attend any of the seminars though, but to be fair they may have been at those events.
The tasting was only 4 hours, and that was with VIP tickets. But given how few vendors were on the tasting floor, that was enough time. With the proper pacing I left with barely a buzz.
The complimentary snacks/bottled water for VIP tickets were a nice touch, if you knew where to look for them. The venue was in a 100 year old building and you had to climb two floors to get to the tasting floor and then one more to get to the VIP area.
Plantation had the prettiest “spread” followed by the SPIRIBAM table (St. Lucia Distillers, St. James, and a few others), the folks at Parce and Tanduay were among the friendliest, Henrik from Kronan was the best showman, and Tiburon had Rick Aspen doing his Captain Jack routine which is always entertaining.
Would I attend again? Yeah, especially when I can drive there in a few hours and crash at a clean and quiet hotel near the airport for reasonable cost.
Would I attend again if I had to fly? Oh heck no. There would have to be some other sort of draw to get me there – like meeting a group of friends to make a whole weekend of it.