“We’re the first distillery in the history of Miami, and the only one,” says Matt Malone, proprietor of Miami Club Rum. A platinum rum of his own recipe was the first libation he began selling to the public, in 2013.
The liquor won a Gold Medal for World’s Best White Rum at the 2013 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. “That’s the Academy Awards for our industry, so it was huge,” he says.
He’s on to another rum already: “I have añejo aging in barrels right now, which we will produce in very limited release this holiday season.”
Local sourcing is important. “We use molasses and sugar cane from South Florida. We also use oils and extracts from fruits grown here. I use a dropper to flavor 200 liters at a time with citrus and a couple of other fruits native to Florida, so the rum literally tastes like Florida,” he explains.
His wife, Joan, represents the fifth generation of rum distillers in Puerto Rico; her family made Ron Kaneka from 1911 until the ’90s. Her grandfather’s story, which Malone learned at the man’s funeral 10years ago, inspired him to start Miami Club Rum.
He also bought the family label and original recipes and will revisit them, but Malone’s current priority is his daughter and son’s future.
“Part of the whole plan is to honor that tradition. So I restarted it – just because my kids are sixth-generation rum producers if I restart the tradition.”
Asked the secret of his success, Malone says, “It seems that the formulation I developed is designed to be the ultimately mixable rum. We use an aging and filtration process that we call ‘infused with music.’”
He says he plays salsa, meringue and samba music in the aging room, 24/7, as the liquor mellows in French oak barrels approximately two years.
“The vibration of the music actually brings a deeper, richer flavor from the wood,” Malone says. He insists he’s not joking.
His proprietary filtration process uses coconut after the rum has aged. “It really smoothes it out and gives it an interesting balance. People seem to love it.”
Currently, Miami Club Rum, distributed through Southern Wine & Spirits, is available throughout Florida. Malone says he recently signed a national agreement with Shaw-Ross International Importers, and the rum will be available this year in California, Las Vegas, New York, and, eventually, in all 50 states.
Miami Club Rum, 2320 N. Miami Ave., Miami; miamiclubrum.com; 305-438-9994
Thirty-minute tours and tastings available; visitors may purchase up to two bottles. Call for appointment, or book through Miami Tours, Dragonfly or the Brew Bus.