More and more online auction sites allow you to have your bottles evaluated and to sell them with a simple click or so, but only a few allow you to do it with total peace of mind. If you are an enthusiast, there is a dedicated site that you should know about: it is Rum Trades, the platform for collectors, investors and rum lovers, that stands out for its ease of use and transparency.
Let’s meet its founder, the Italian Federico Ahmed Garcia, who will explain to us how the idea of dedicating an auction site to rum came about, what are the most sought-after references, what are the criteria that attract buyers, and above all, what are the pitfalls to avoid.
How did you come up with the idea of dedicating a website to rum auctions?
Federico : The idea was born from the desire to create a platform truly dedicated to ‘rum lovers’, where rum was treated as an A-series product and at the same time, offer a bespoke customer service, with the highest possible level. The desire to contribute to making a product so rich in history known to the general public, alongside the information, also the financial aspect, did the rest.
That of rum, is a much smaller audience than the one who loves whisky or even more wine. There is still little information and most people, do not even suspect that we talk about products with a centuries-old history, some still distilled in ancient stills, with a unique charm made of colonialism, slavery, suffering and conquest. A product that has inspired countless legends of pirates, from which many are fascinated.
Who are the users of the site?
Our audience is quite diverse and includes enthusiasts, collectors and investors. It is also a young, often high-profile audience.
Do you think that rum is a financial product?
That’s not my opinion, that’s what the evidence says. Remaining in the world of bottles, it is simply happening what has always happened with wine and whisky.
Isn’t rum meant to be drunk?
Certainly. Rum is meant to be drunk, just as clocks are meant to indicate the time, cars to be driven, shoes to be worn, and art to be admired. There is now much hypocrisy in this area as well.
In October we took part in our first rum festival, and as you can see on our social networks, we brought and opened bottles that are almost impossible to find and of high value, which few people would dream of opening. How many people do you know who are willing to open a Skeldon 1978 , an Albion 1994, or a Caroni from the 80s with current quotations ?
What are the trends in rum auctions? Which styles and brands are performing well ?
The trend is definitely great, but as for all sectors, the right products should be chosen. In recent years we have witnessed a very strong revaluation of molasses rum, which is increasingly appreciated also by the public who love ‘agricole’ rum.
The brands that perform best are the historic bottles, the legendary old Demerara selections of Velier and cult rums like the Caroni, which for history and similarities, are increasingly called the Karuizawa of the world of rum.
How is rum doing in Italy? Which rums do the Italians like ?
Italy is historically a country of collectors, with a strong tradition linked to high quality and is a country that also thanks to its very fine palates, has made history in the world of distillates. Just think of the legendary Italian selections of Macallan or the incredible charm of the historic bottlings of Silvano Samaroli, just to name a few.
The currently most popular and sought after rums, until about 2010, were distributed exclusively for the Italian market and rum fever here has been going on for years. We have an audience that loves both agricultural and molasses rum, with younger people, mainly attracted by the latter.
What is your main concern about long term conservation?
The evaporation ! And RumTrades is the only company who clearly shows the liquid level of each auctioned bottle. Unfortunately, the theme of evaporation is a sore point because the caps of the most prestigious bottles, are in very simple cork that over the years dries losing volume and no longer adheres to the neck of the bottle exposing the product to air.
We have now witnessed several cases of people who have kept bottles for years without ever checking them, founding out that some of them evaporated, along with their money. Often these people not only did not know how to store their bottles, but did not even suspect the existence of the problem.
The evaporation, in addition of scuppering the value of the bottle, strongly alters the flavor.
Do you have any advice to protect bottles from evaporation?
We always recommend to apply parafilm to the bottles and to do in any case a check once a year. Surely the visual examination is the most immediate, but my personal advice is to weigh them and keep track over the time. The eye can be deceived by several factors, including temperature that contracts and expands liquids, while the balance does not.
We have seen in recent times the proliferation of fake bottles: what does RumTrades do to fight it?
Our team is made of real experts who managed several thousand bottles over the years, making tons of experience and this is a know-how money can’t buy.
RumTrades also set a new standard in pictures, to clearly show our customers what they are paying for. Every lot auctioned on RumTrades is examined physically with the utmost attention and if needed, also opinion from producers is asked.
In addition, we got the technological instruments to see what the naked eye can’t and this allows us to check even the texture of the label, the capsule, the tax strip etc. We are able to see every single detail in ultra HD magnified as a door.
Any tip to avoid being tricked?
Avoid DIY and buying from private sellers, unless you know exactly what you are doing. The same when you buy from platforms where items are shipped from private individuals with no control over authenticity or provenance. And be always suspicious when the price is too good to be true!