As a professional musician-songwriter, I’ve always thought I had the best job in the world. I put in about six hours a week on stage and another six writing songs.
The latter six hours usually consist of inspirational moments on a boat or bar stool, and for this “work” I get paid well enough to enjoy life.
I thought I had it made, until I met Bob Leonard from Key West, Florida, also known as Bahama Bob. He has, in my opinion, the best job in the world. Bob travels the islands as a judge for rum tasting events in destinations such as the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Barbados, the Virgin Islands, the Florida Keys, Trinidad, Venezuela, Panama, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, St. Maarten, Grenada, Antigua and St. Lucia, along with regular stopovers in Havana and Santiago de Cuba.
What a gig! What does he do? Bob is a professional rum taster. He recently made an appearance at the annual Taste of Cayman festival, held at Camana Bay. He was invited to participate and judge by Walker Romanica and Nelson Dilbert of Cayman Spirits Company.
Bob’s knack for critiquing rums comes from his many years’ experience as a day shift bartender at the famous Rum Bar in Key West. He was the purchaser responsible for putting together the 247 different rums that are available for tasting there. That involvement has given him a well-rounded understanding of the business and allowed him to glean recipes and facts about rums and cocktails in order to provide fun and interesting tales about them that can be shared during rum conventions and tasting tournaments.
Being a respected international rum judge has gotten Bob involved with a lot of marketing people and producers of rum. His daily rum blog averages around 850 views a day, and his travels through the Caribbean have allowed him to become familiar with some of the more interesting distilleries, cocktail lounges and beach bars. They have also given him the opportunity to get to know some very colorful bartenders who have been helpful in chasing down many of the original recipes for his books of enticing, spirituous cocktails.
Of course, you cannot be a rum connoisseur without knowing some lingo – example:
“This rum is a copper color. Aromas of dark roasted nuts, caramelized coconuts and bananas with a supple, fruity medium-to-full body and a vaporous finish with notes of caramel chocolate fudge, pepper, nuts, metal ore, and green tobacco. Surprisingly clean and balanced, given the proof, and outstandingly flavorful.”
Wow. How does one get to this stage of rum analyzing without endlessly being buzzed to the point of comatose? If you ask Bob, he’s not giving away any secrets. You cannot blame him … why disclose the modus operandi of such an enviable occupation? Yes, Bob keeps the competition at bay.
Bob currently lives on a boat with his wife Marta in Key West, writing his daily blog – “Bahama Bob’s Rumstyles” – developing new cocktails at the Rum Lab, selling books and spending days judging rum events and tastings.
Bob lives life to the fullest. Time flies when you’re havin’ rum! Am I jealous? Stupid question …