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Someone once said, “People fall in love in mysterious ways.” I thought it a sweet sentiment and then I met Doreen and Gary. Not knowing what to expect after a friend invited me to a rum tasting, I immediately felt at home as soon as I arrived at the distillery. The country estate setting, along with the company of other USBG professionals, meant I was in for a memorable night.

Samples were given out with no explanation other than “rum”. For the next hour the group tasted and compared samples. Then! After evaluating the spirits, we were asked if we would like to cocktail the samples we liked the most. Being the boyscout I am, I came prepared with my bar bag full of tools for such an occasion! And it truly became an occasion.

The silver rum had my complete attention with its smooth tropical fruit and honeysuckle finish – the possibilities seemed endless! I made a potion of silver rum, pineapple juice, coconut cream, orange juice, and aromatic we now call the “Head Hunter” at Howard and Fine. My next cocktail was made with Modern Matriarch’s Amber Rum – one of my favorites in the blind tasting. Being aged in used bourbon barrels gives it a beautiful amber color along with some wonderful caramel, coconut, and oak tasting notes. I immediately knew it would be perfect as a rum ole fashioned! The cocktails were an instant hit, sparking more conversation between Gary, Doreen, and I about production and potential, which led to them give a few of us a special showing of the (private stock) – but that’s a story for another day.

All I can say is yum! Quality, Tradition, Continuity, Friendship – the values Doreen Blakely and Gary Dunteman extended to our group that day. They are the values the two master Distillers stand by and can be found in their bottles of hand-crafted small batch rum. Gary, who I would describe as always reading the room, takes every opportunity to answer questions with excitement and accuracy. Doreen, definitely the face of the operation, is quick to joke and generous with her smiles. A host who could teach service industry hosts a thing or two about being hospitable. Her enthusiasm is unrivaled. Someone once said, “People fall in love in mysterious ways”. If you’d told me on my way to the tasting that I would have made two new lifelong friends I would have laughed with hope but not taken it seriously. The Modern Matriarch Rum Distillery is my newfound love and I hope everyone reading this gets an opportunity to try this local, modern line of spirits.

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