The Hotel That Should Be On Every Rum Lover’s Must-Visit List

Check into just about any Caribbean resort and chances are good you’ll be greeted with

Check into just about any Caribbean resort and chances are good you’ll be greeted with the island’s own rendition of rum punch. But, at the Zemi Beach House—a boutique resort situated on the shore of Shoal Bay in Anguilla—the rum experience is taken to the next level. Guests here can retreat into an elegant “Rhum Room” and sip rums from around the world or enjoy the spirit in an artisan cocktail, an experience that should be on the must-do list for all rum lovers when international travel resumes. 

Sidle up to the bar or sink into a blue leather couch, and prepare to learn about the different rum-making styles and taste profiles that differentiate Caribbean rums. The boutique hotel has its very own “rhummelier” (think: a sommelier, but for rum) who can guide you through a tasting.

In all, the Zemi Beach House’s Rhum Room has more than a 100 varieties of small-batch rum. A $90 “Pirates of the Caribbean” tasting will take your tastebuds on a tour of the islands with rums from Jamaica, Bermuda, Martinique and Guadeloupe. But you can also sample rums from other parts of the world, including Italy, France and Venezuela.

Zemi’s resident rhummelier Eduard Balan answered some questions for us about rum tastings and pairings. Here’s how to sip rum like an expert.

What’s your best tasting tips for rum sippers? 

The most common notes you’ll find in your rums are caramel, cocoa and vanilla. I recommend sipping rum neat, either in a rocks glass or brandy glass. You can elevate the experience by pairing the rum with dark chocolate. When you want to better understand rums, ask about fermentation, distillation, and the type of barrels they are aged in.

What will people notice about Caribbean-style rums?

Each Caribbean island has its own way of making rum and unique heritage tied to its rum. The fermentation, the distillation, the ageing process and the type of barrel is going to make a huge difference. For example, rums from Martinique are mostly Agricole, and made from raw sugar cane juice instead of the molasses. They’re intense and have slightly wilder notes, which might remind you of a cognac or whisky. The Jamaican rums are “funky” due to their earthy and pungent notes. Barbadian rums, on the other hands, tend to be drier.

Favorite rum and cigar pairing?

 Mount Gay XO, with its notes of cocoa and roasted coffee, marries well with all the types of cigars. Personally I prefer it with a Bolivar cigar.

What’s your favorite bottle of rum?

 Personally, right now I’m liking Barbadian rums like Mount Gay, because of its dryness and complexity.

Want to get a taste of Anguilla at home? Here’s a recipe courtesy of the Zemi Beach House for an old fashioned, with a rum twist.

Rhum Old Fashioned


1.25 oz Mount Gay XO

0.33 oz Port wine (Zemi makes its own with orange shrub and bitters, so if you’ve got orange bitters on hand, a drop will lend some extra zest; otherwise expressing the oils from your orange peel should do the trick when you go to garnish the cocktail).

3 dashes of angostura bitters 

1 brown sugar cube

Splash of club soda

Instructions:  Add your first three ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake. Strain and pour into a lowball glass with a large ice cube; add your brown sugar cube and stir. Top with the splash of club soda. Garnish with an expressed orange.

Anguilla has announced its plans for a phased re-opening to tourists. Those wanting to visit the island can now apply to do so. All tourists will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test that was conducted within three to five days prior to the arrival date. You can find up-to-date information about Zemi’s plans to reopen here.

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