Mike Benitez, a pioneering marlin angler and legend in the sport fishing community, recently passed away. Ricardo LeFranc, a member of Mike’s home port of Club Nautico de San Juan, penned the following …
Yo Ho Ho! and Multiple Bottles of Rum at the Blazing Mako
By Sue Cocking, Guy Harvey Outpost travel journalist
Flats, offshore and pier fishing; paddleboarding; art and “Conch-servation” exhibits– all are great reasons to attend the Blazing Mako Tournament and Festival June 17-19 at the Islander, a Guy Harvey Outpost in Islamorada. But if you are 21 or older, be sure to stop by the Rum Village where you can taste some new and old renditions of the favorite spirit of the islands.
Papa’s Pilar–a brand launched in South Florida in 2013–will present its dark and blonde rums (and possibly some samples of a special release) in the Rum Village. In partnership with author Ernest “Papa” Hemingway’s descendants, the company named the spirits for the writer and the fishing boat in which he famously fished Cuba’s offshore waters in the mid-20th century. The rums are sourced from the U.S., Caribbean, and Central America and aged and blended in a unique solara process using American oak bourbon barrels, port wine casks, and then finished in Spanish sherry casks.
Besides winning spirits industry awards, Papa’s Pilar supports literacy and conservation: the Hemingway family donates 100 percent of its royalties to those causes.
Kyle Groth, the company’s marketing chief, said being a sponsor of the Blazing Mako fishing seminar and back country tournament is a perfect fit because proceeds from the event benefit scholarships for marine science students at Nova Southeastern University through the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.
“It’s totally in line with what we stand for,” Groth said. “The education, conservation, and preserving the rivers, the seas and the fisheries.”
Groth said Papa’s Pilar plans to expand its South Florida presence by opening a distillery and brand center in Key West–(Hemingway’s former home)–later this year.
Another even newer South Florida brand featured at the Rum Village is Black Coral Rum, produced by the father-and-son team of Clint and Ben Etheridge of Riviera Beach and sponsor of the Blazing Mako tournament awards ceremony.
A craft spirit made in small batches, Black Coral Rum uses locally-grown sugarcane –no artificial ingredients –and a special carbon filtration process involving coconut husks. The spirit is aged in charred oak barrels. It takes lots of time, according to Ben Etheridge.
“Rum wasn’t built in a week,” he said.
The company donates $1 from every bottle sold to local military veterans’ organizations. It also sponsors treasure dives around Florida
At the Blazing Mako, you can sample either white or spiced varieties neat or in cocktails. And Black Coral will be the main ingredient of tournament honoree Stu Apte’s signature Rum Dumb Boogie Punch.
Also appearing in the Rum Village are Tiburon Rum, Bahama Blue Rum & Vodka, Gubba Rum, Pussers Rum, Bayou Rum, Yolo Rum, Code Rum, Tortugas Rum Cakes; Florida Keys Brewing Co.; Saltwater Brewery; Tito’s Handmade Vodka; and
For more information on the tournament and festival, visit www.blazingmako.com.
Sue Cocking chronicles the Guy Harvey Outpost travel and adventure experience in regular blog posts on GuyHarveyOutpostNews.com/. For 21 years, Cocking covered the full spectrum of outdoors adventure opportunities in South Florida and beyond for the Miami Herald, including fishing, diving, hunting, paddling, camping, sailing and powerboat racing. She is a certified scuba diver and holder of an IGFA women’s world fly fishing record for a 29-pound permit.
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