South Florida Distillers, "Ft. Lauderdale's Oldest Distillery" made a grilled pineapple rum which we were lucky enough to get our hands on.

Coated with brown sugar and cinnamon, the pineapple was grilled and then put into a barrel of their white rum. We find it to be excellent, whether neat, over rocks, or mixed with some cola. The pineapple flavor is subtle and leaves a pleasant, sweet cinnamon/pineapple taste lingering in your mouth after a sip. It seemed almost more pronounced paired with some soda, perhaps as it mellows the alcohol taste and lets the flavor really shine through.

While stopping by to buy a bottle, Joe Durkin, a co-founder and the head distiller gave us the tour of their setup. Joe is very passionate and loves to talk about the process, their insistence on using only the best ingredients, and his desire to be transparent with his processes so enthusiasts like us can learn and appreciate the craft. They source all their ingredients locally; the pineapple is organic & locally grown and they use cane syrup (the first step to making sugar) from Florida cane growers. Also, their distilling process is the true definition of small batch - they are planning to step UP to a 20 gallon distillation pot soon.

Joe clearly loves his job - the enthusiasm he had during my tour got me really excited too. He got into distilling when he built a still as a project for one of his hospitality management classes. It does seem like he found his calling.  Co-founder Avi Aisenberg handles the business / technical side of the operation,  as he designed the controllers the run the pots and such.

Currently they have 10 virgin barrels that they are aging rum in. As a bit of an "experiment", the barrels have different amounts of "char" (where they burn the barrels), which should create aged rums with different flavor profiles. They plan to do thse as single barrel releases so that customers can look up their bottle on the website and see which barrel it came from.

Joe told us that he plans to keep being creative to produce unique, fun rums that are also great to drink. Upcoming batches he is looking forward to include spiced rum, aging some coconut rum in a barrel used to age sirachi peppers, doing barrel exchanges with local breweries, etc. While their focus will be rums, they also plan to dabble in other liquors too. In fact they were able to get a batch of agave, so they currently have some "not tequila" in the works.

Based on my visit and the rum I am enjoying as I write this, it's apparent that they have a very bright future ahead of them. Check out their website to schedule a visit and tour. And soon, look for their rums at Total Wine, Mai-Kai as well as some of the resorts along the beach.

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