Ohio Rum Society celebrates second anniversary

Written by on August 7, 2018 in Liquor - No comments

Smooth jazz whispers from the corners of the bar, the bartender laughs as he’s asked to explain the inspiration behind the object of everyone’s fascination: a lamb leg-infused blend of Cruzan Black Stap and Smith & Cross Jamaican rum. (Yes, lamb leg). 

This new creation, courtesy of The Light of Seven Matchsticks in Worthington, is not at all surprising to Chad White, founder and organizer of the Ohio Rum Society and ardent supporter of Columbus’ speakeasy scene.

“Exploring rum is like going down the rabbit hole,” said White.

White’s white rabbit? A flight of rum at a small Cuban kitchen and rum bar in Cleveland he discovered while looking for a quick lunch on a work trip six years ago. This first rum experience quickly grew into a great rum hunt, taking White and his wife, Jodi, on various “educational” trips and quickly filling their (two) home bars. After a while, according to White, his wife gave him a choice: get very busy drinking or get very busy sharing.

White chose the latter.

On National Rum Day of August 2016, the Ohio Rum Society Facebook page launched with ten members, mostly friends of White. Word of the budding Facebook group spread over sips of cane spirits and it wasn’t long until bartenders, spirit reps, and Tikiphiles, as White calls them, helped give rise to first official ORS meetup at Grass Skirt Tiki Room downtown.

Now approaching its two-year anniversary, the Ohio Rum Society boasts a little more than 300 members from across Ohio, with most members residing in Columbus. The society’s mission is two-fold: to help elevate rum as a spirit category by educating consumers and industry members on its wide variety of flavor profiles and categories, and to give back to Central Ohio’s bar and service industry.

“Rum is, in my opinion, the most diverse distilled spirit in the world,” said White. “The more bartenders that learn about rum and its diversity, the more we get to see exciting rums appear on the shelves.”

— like lamb leg-infused rums.

White and the group actualize their mission through themed meetups and tastings. Recent meetups include a two-part prohibition-themed series focusing on speakeasies and Cuba’s (and Cuban rum’s) roll in prohibition. Another past event, titled “Rum, Beer & Revolution,” involved a collaboration with Wolf’s Ridge Brewing to create Colonial-Era rum cocktails, which were often made with adjuncts like beer, egg, and molasses to mask the roughness of the era’s spirits.

The group added a membership fee in 2018 in order to start building a budget for tasting (White provided all rum for prior meetups) as well as to add a charitable aspect to the group, supporting hurricane relief funds, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in support of one of the society’s members, and The Plastic Bank.

Joining the ORS Facebook page is free and open to all. Those interested in attending meetups have the option of paying $10 per meetup or $50 for an annual membership. White guarantees annual members a minimum of six meetups per year. The group hosted ten meetups in 2017.

As the group grows, White is excited to meet more rum fans, generate income for new spirits, and increase charitable giving, but not above his mission of education and community building.

“What I love most is when it’s not just me on the Facebook group posting articles and questions,” said White. “People are starting to post what they’re drinking and ask questions… my proudest moments are seeing people start to join the conversation.”

The next meetup is scheduled for Monday, August 27 at 6:00pm in celebration of the society’s second anniversary and National Rum Month. Two global rum experts, Guillaume Lamy, global ambassador for Plantation Rum of France, and Don Benn, master distiller from Barbados-based West Indies Rum Distillery, will help educate and taste the group at Denmark on High’s The Secret Cellar. The meetup is free for existing members and $10 for guests.

Request to join the Ohio Rum Society Facebook group to RSVP to this month’s meetup or contact OhioRummers@gmail.com to inquire about membership.

About the Author

Abby likes beer - talking about it, taking photos of it, writing about it, but mostly drinking it. When she's not drinking beer, she's likely teaching cycling, doing yoga, snapping photos, or drinking a gin cocktail on the porch with her pup. @ahofri on Instagram, @AbigailLHoff on Twitter.

Leave a Comment