Rum connoisseur interview of the week:
Internationally recognized Expert in Rum, founder of Isla de Rum and the Director of ShowRUM the Italian Rum Festival!
1) Who is Leonardo Pinto?
Leonardo Pinto has been passionate about rum since the late 90’s when he was young, impassioned about the Caribbean Culture and its “spirit”, RUM!
For years I tried to reach out as many information as I could. In that time period the internet was not as good as it is now, so I decided to open a blog in 2004 named Isla de Rum (Spanish for “Isla”, because the first settlers in the Carribean were Spanish, English for “Rum”, because the word rum for sugarcane spirits in the Caribbean seems to come from them, and the French “de”). During these years, I decided to quit my “proper job” (as my parents described it) and build a job on my passion. Right now I am the owner of the most important rum website in Italy (it is both a blog and a shop, with many varied focuses and guides). Along with that, I run over 100 seminars and masterclass per year, which are mostly in Italy. Included in these are ‘around’ 20 “RUM MASTER” classes that are a four-day technical master class about rum that I created in 2012. I work as a consultant for Italian Market (brand building, staff training, etc.) and I am involved as a judge in several rum and cocktail competitions around the World.
Last but not least, I am also the director of ShowRUM, the Italian Rum Festival, that takes place every year in Rome.
2) What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?
It was literally ‘love at first sip’. I remember exactly the date, it is my rum-birthday: Saturday, November 15th, 1997.
3) The biggest achievement you personally feel you have accomplished for the rum industry.
Really I think there are two. I am a trainer, with thousands of follower, and I am unaffiliated with specific brands, which means that I can always say the truth. This is something I will never give up for money.
The second one is ShowRUM. A big Rum Festival in a small Country for the entire Italian Rum market.
4) What is that thing that makes you want to continue in the rum industry?
Rum, of course.
I was able to build a job on my passion, every time something goes wrong in my business I look at myself in the mirror and I remember how lucky I am.
5) Favorite Drink + Recipe
It depends on where I am, with whom I am, what I am doing and so on.
For example, in February I will be in Jamaica, in those days my favorite drink will be Jamaican Rum Overproof and Ting with Ice. It will also be ok without ice. Really, it will be ok also without Ting.
6) Where do you see the rum industry today and in the next 5 years?
I am sure it will grow a lot. We are just out from a sort of Middle Age dark years for rum, now all of us in this industry have to make our best effort to raise the reputation of this wonderful spirit.
7) Share some (2-3) of your mentors and how they have helped you.
It is not conceited when I say that I have no mentors; really I would have loved to have some during my first years in this field. Fortunately, I have met many people that have taught me something, and still, now I am always searching for a conversation with everyone. I think no-one should ever say “I know everything”. There is always something that you don’t know. And the funniest thing is that sometimes you learn from the most unexpected people.
8) What 3-5 things do you have on your bucket list for the next 12 month?
- ShowRUM is growing year by year and I want this trend to continue.
- Travel to as many rum distilleries as I can
3. Finish my book
4. Drink rum
5. Be happy
9) Any final thoughts?
Thank you very much for the space you gave me on your website and many thanks in advance to all the people that will decide to read until this point.
I make a toast to all the rum lovers around the World.