Rum connoisseur interview of the week: STEVE LEUKANACH Traveler, connoisseur, and lover of fine spirits, collector, imbiber and enthusiastic rum lover
Rum connoisseur interview of the week:
Traveler, connoisseur, and lover of fine spirits, collector, imbiber and enthusiastic rum lover
1) Who is Steve Leukanach?
A retired photographer with a love of fine spirits. Suffers from a financially debilitating buying disorder that causes him to purchase delicious, new and exotic spirits in excessive quantities and then share with friends.
Known to travel to distilleries in Kentucky and throughout the Caribbean, make friends with and then pester producers, independent bottlers, and retailers, order enough bottles from other countries to get the attention of US customs, and haunt obscure liquor stores and rum shops looking for forgotten and hard to find gems.
Has been waving the Rum banner in Bourbon land for a few years now.
Believes that spirits are best served and enjoyed when in the company of friends.
2) What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?
Growing up in Miami in the early 60’s Rum and Coke was the go-to starter drink, my favorite was Myers. The serious love affair with rum began about 10 or 11 years ago when I began branching out from the Bourbon I was focused on.
3) The biggest achievement you personally feel you have accomplished for the rum industry.
Well, I’m not associated with the Rum industry on any sort of professional level so I can’t talk about how many cases of whatever flavored rum de jour I have moved in the last quarter.
My interest is purely selfish in that if I can make producers aware that there is a market for pure rums bottled at a more flavorful higher proof I will have a larger selection of Rums I enjoy. There is a market for pure, bold premium rums, honestly labeled, artfully blended and skillfully aged, not just mixed, flavored and watered down to meet a price point. So far that market has been almost exclusively served by third party bottlers with products that are largely unavailable in the USA. I’m hoping that my voice is one that helps change that, and in the last year I think we are beginning to see that change.
4) What is that thing that makes you want to continue in the rum industry?
The thing that continues draw me back to rum is it’s marvelous and seemingly endless diversity. So many new products to taste, so much to learn. Not just about rums but about the cultures they come from.
5) Favorite Drink + Recipe
So far this spring my favorite cocktail has been a spirited barrel proof pot still rum (Duncan Taylor Long Pond is the current go to) mixed with a little spicy craft ginger ale and a generous squeeze of lime served on ice.
6) Where do you see the rum industry today and in the next 5 years?
My best guess is that we will see a parallel market for pure rums at higher proof develop and experience explosive growth. The current market for sweet flavored rums will continue to grow and rum cocktails will become even more popular.
7) Share some of your mentors and how they have influenced you.
David Perkins – Inspiring and energetic genius. The owner of High West is always interested in experimentation and has shared lots of information about production, aging, and sourcing. Always has time to sit and enjoy a pour, always answers questions, always interested in something new.
Jim Rutledge – Formerly at Four Roses was the first Master Distiller of a major producer I met who was doing it for the love of the spirit and the pride of producing something special rather than just counting cases and talking volume. Always willing to share his unparalleled knowledge about distilling.
Richard Seale – He is the first rum producer I know of to step out of the shadows and share his opinions in an honest and straightforward way on social media. So many rum producers turn it all over to reps and marketing departments. Richard has the courage to put a face to the Foursquare products he has good reason to be proud of.
8) What 3-5 things do you have on your bucket list for the next 12 month?
Spend some time in Martinique
Visit Barbados and St. Lucia again.
Tales of the Cocktail
London Rum Fest
9) Any final thoughts?
Rum needs a more rational classification system than just color! Also, if anything other than pure barrel aged distillate goes in the bottle it should be clearly noted on the label. If the industry does those two things there will be a whole new market for rum that will run parallel to the current one and won’t diminish the current one in any way.
10) How can people learn more about you? Website? Social Media Page?
While I rarely post to my facebook page I can be found on many facebook group pages – Ministry of Rum, Global Rum Club, Strong Water Showcase, Rum Club France, Dutch Rum Club, Serious Brandy, Discussions autour du rhum !!, Rum Club Guadeloupe etc. I turn up on the Straight Bourbon Forum and Ministry of Rum Forum also. I always answer facebook messages.