« Rum is a domino lot at the fish village of Οιstins, a dram with a local fisherman » – Interview with Nikos Arvanitis

Hello Nikos. How are you today?

Ηello, well, I’m still at the tropics here in the Caribbean, so I’m pretty good, thank you.

Can you let our reader know more about you? What is your background?

  I’m from Greece as you might know he he, and i work as a bartender for the past 11-12 years. I love traveling and being nomadic, i love black music and African/Caribbean culture, i love daiquiris and high volume mai tai. You see, a few years ago i met rum and this is my passion ever since.

You are often called the white rasta. What does the Rastafarai way of life mean to you?

Fist after all no exist black Rasta or white Rasta. Just Rasta. . It’s not necessary to have dreadlocks to be Rasta . Rasta is not a dreadlock thing. it’s a divine conception of the heart as a song says. Rasta is to live in unity ,peace and love. I love simplicity and the nature. Rastafarians help me a lot in my trips in Caribbean. They balance my life and my personality.

You currently live in Barbados but constantly travel ? What are you looking for? What is the purpose?

Yes, Barbados is my base and every now and then i get to travel to the other Caribbean islands. My life goal is to visit all the rum distilleries around here, and i think im getting closer, since i have already been to more than 40 of them and 23 islands as well. All of this of course comes out of my great love for this fantastic spirit, which continuously grew bigger as i was getting further into it’s past. Slavery, pirates, British Navy, all that stuff. Knowing is good, but understanding is something else, and thats why im here. After traveling, countless hours of reading, masterclasses, festivals, i learned that the only way to understand is to get to know the origins. So 3 years ago, with no plan and no money, i decided to come here and live with my beloved spirit, the people around it and be a part of their culture, which is by far different from travels agents’ pictures.. During this process, lots of exciting things have happened. And are still happening i guess. For example, this whole thing about the traditional production process is now brighter. Batch distillation and traditional continuous distillation in twin/single artisanal column, is rum’s heritage. It’s Caribbean’s heritage in general. It’s a heritage that is in danger, from all these distilleries/companies who replaced the traditional distillation process with multi column alcohol plants. Traditional twin column stills, are the most endangered species in the spirits world.

Please never compare and match a traditional twin column with a multi column alcohol plant.. The Rums as well… It’s not the ABV the reason but the way of the distillation process and the type of the still. Weak age statements, additives, even the source of production. You asked about purpose, here it is: Raise the category through traveling around the world, telling the truth about rum, keep alive the pure single and traditional rum and the traditional production process.

What does rum represent for you? It seems that it is more than a spirit but a way of live for you?

Well, for sure it’s not industry. It’s not my first choice to earn money from. It’s a spirit with a past that sometimes is not so fancy and happy and bright… Rum is a domino lot at the fish village of Οιstins, a dram with a local at the rum shop. Rum is the real face of the Caribbean and its people. Rum is not for collecting on a library and getting cocky about it. Rum is to share with friends around the world.

You are often seen with some Velier bottles in hands, who is your current inspiration in the world of rum?

Lucas Gargano and Richard Seale are my undisputed mentors and the people who made me who i am today regarding rum. It is very important for us to understand that rum is under crisis. False classification teqniques under shady terms have led our beloved spirit to an unending circle of disinformation. If we have the source material and the distillation terms very very clear in our heads, everything then is easier to understand for everyone, expert or not. Thats what Velier does. You can clearly see it on the bottle. All the info you need is there : distillation date, distillation technique, years of age, type of barrel, angel’s share.

What is your knowledge of Rhum Agricole? Have you already been in Martinique or Guadeloupe ? If not do you plan to go there?

I love those rums. i really love them. i love them for the character and their freshness. i love them for the strict production regulations. i love them for the perspective of their producers. Yes, I’ve been to Martinique and Guadeloupe. I’m going back there in a few days and to Marie Gallante also and i really can’t wait!!

We do appreciate a lot your pictures here at Rumporter especially as they are often with a daily life, regular people angle? Can you describe us your typical day?

I take photos of everything i cannot speak or write about. I try to focus on the beauty of people rather than scenery. I live with very few things, and a lot of respect for the place that hosts me. Being away from Europe has been very good for me and living here has changed the way i see the world in general…

Will we see you soon in Europe ?

Well, I’m coming back to Europe in April, and my first stop is the Paris Rhum festival and a few friends and bars there. Next up is Greece, Cyprus, UK, Poland, berlin, Thailand and a few others till it’s cold again. Then I’m coming back here in Caribbean sea for sure 🙂 .

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