Rum connoisseur interview of the week: Lance Surujbally – He is “The Lone Caner”. Founder & sole contributor to ‘The Lone Caner’. A world traveler and lover of Rum

Lance Surujbally
He is “The Lone Caner”.
Founder & sole contributor to ‘The Lone Caner’.
A world traveler and lover of Rum


1) Who is Lance Surujbally

Short question with a long answer. Let’s just say I’m not a judge, bartender, promoter, evangelist, cocktail guru, distiller, producer or in any way commercially involved with the industry. My day job is actually quite prosaic and far removed from the subject. I’ve called eight countries home, have been fortunate enough to have traveled the world, speak several languages, and love reading and writing – especially about rum.

2) What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?

I’ve been sniffing the odd tot since I was a teen and began drinking the local hooch as far back as the mid-1980s when I lived in Guyana.  But after a long hiatus where I moved countries several times, changed jobs a lot, started a family and ended up in Calgary, I began to take the whole subject of writing reviews more seriously.  This was directly related to a book club a friend of mine created in 2009 which morphed into a book-and-whisky-and-rum club (guess who was the lone cane loving enthusiast?).  He suggested we start a blog that year, and the rum reviews began – I wrote frantically for three months straight to get the initial population. Now it has become a habit, and the more rums I try and write about, the more I realize there is so much more still undiscovered and unwritten about.

3) The biggest achievement you personally feel you have accomplished for the rum industry.

That might be overstating my influence. Let’s say that I take some pride in being among the first to write about Velier, Rum Nation, Nine Leaves and Compagnie des Indes; of being a resource to those with questions on particular rums; of raising the bar (however infinitesimally) for writing that is enjoyable as well as informative; and of encouraging others to start or continue their writing of reviews or essays.

4) What is that thing that makes you want to continue in the rum industry?

Three things: [1] the interaction with readers, other writers, and producers of rum.  Just about everyone is courteous, helpful and cheerful to a fault, great people with a combined knowledge base they are eager to share. [2] the immense and global varieties of rums out there, of which I have only scratched the surface…so many countries make rum and each has something unique to offer [3] the developments over the last five years in the field as a whole.

5) Favorite Rum Drink?

Depends on mood. When I’m tired, irritable and don’t want complexity, a simple Cuba Libre does me just fine. After a good dinner, something softer and sweeter, so maybe a solera rum.  But in the main, I still prefer to drink rums neat, and like them strong and growly and distinct.

6) Where do you see the rum industry today and in the next 5 years?

I believe the trends we have witnessed over the last years will continue: [1] More independent bottlers will emerge, issuing interesting variations on old favourites [2] many more new small distilleries will continue to open up shop, especially in the USA [3] the gradual development of a global series of standards that impact not only what is in the rum (i.e., additives) and from what it is made (source material, and the still), but also how to classify rum itself, into categories that are clear and unambiguous, and are understood (and accepted) globally [4] The divergence of rums into two distinct strands will continue – spiced/flavoured versus unadulterated rums, and standard strength versus full proof rums.

7) Share some (2-3) of your mentors and how they have helped you.

That’s not a short list….much of what I’ve learned on this long and sometimes expensive journey of rum appreciation has come from many people in the field who have been generous with their time and advice and corrections.  In no order: Curt Robinson of AllThingsWhisky who started the ball rolling and encouraged me to set up my own site, while always trying to convince me to switch to that obscure Scottish drink; Henrik of RumCorner, Cyril of DuRhum, Marco of Barrel-Aged-Mind; Steve James of Rum Diaries – generous to a fault with samples and background and general conversation on conceptual matters; Dave Russell of Rum Gallery; Matt Pietrek of The CocktailWonk whose essays I devour and reread; Josh Miller of InuaKena, who I always needle about not writing enough; and I can never ignore rum lovers in general, who comprise the readership – they are curious, opinionated, interested, talkative, and share a genuine passion for the spirit.  And I have to mention the producers, who provide the raw material for our discourse – without them, there would be no ‘Caner.

8) What 3-5 things do you have on your bucket list for the next 12 months?

Sample more from obscure points of the compass; write more about the histories of distilleries and producers and independent bottlers; continue to take part in the discourse on classification. And yeah, to find the next Velier before anyone else does.

9) Any last words?

Without encouraging any kind of rampant boozing or indiscriminate drinking, I think that those persons who are interested in the drink and the subject should sample as many rums as they can.  On reddit and facebook, there are so many wistful posts that ask “what do I start with?”  My advice is, everything you can until you find that profile that’s yours. It’s a great drink of enormous breadth and variety, with something for everyone.  And that’s also what makes me want – always! – to try the next one from the next distillery in the next estate, just past that hill over there.

10) Where can people learn more about you? Website? Social Media Page?

Author: Fede

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