Distillery: Siesta Key Rum is Florida's first craft rum distillery and is located a few miles west of it's namesake beach in Sarasota, FL. It is a small, family-owned business where they use a hands-on distillation process to make small batches of various types of rum including Silver, Gold, Spiced, and the popular Toasted Coconut. They also have very limited releases of the Distiller's Reserve and Beer Barrel Finish rums which are available only at the distillery.
We visited the distillery for a tour and rum tasting in July 2016. The distillery consists of one large room where the entire distillation process is conducted - from fermenting the 100% Florida sugar cane molasses to aging the rum in various types of barrels - and a small bottling and labeling room where the final product is produced. Troy Roberts, the master distiller, founder, and CEO greeted us and began the tour, then turned it over to Kevin Kawa, the production distiller. The final (and in our case also the first) stop on the tour is the tasting room, where you can sample all of the different rums they make and purchase collectibles like t-shirts, hats, and Tervis® tumblers. We highly recommend the rum cakes - both the Toasted Coconut and Spiced Rum with pecans were delicious!
The rums are made with natural ingredients, such as real coconut that they toast in an oven and genuine spices which are infused into the rum. There are no artificial flavors and the rum is sweetened with honey rather than added sugars. For their aged rums, they use the solera method where rums of various ages are blended together to achieve a unique flavor for each batch. It is difficult to choose a favorite amongst these delicious rums, but we narrowed it down to the Spiced and Toasted Coconut rums. The Spiced rum has tasting notes of predominately cinnamon along with nutmeg and a hint of clove, and the finish is reminiscent of a cinnamon bun. The Toasted Coconut flavored rum is sweet and smooth, with an authentic toasted coconut flavor similar to a cake or pie topping. At the time of our visit, the Toasted Coconut rum was available in a limited edition "Sea Life" series where a portion of the proceeds benefit the nearby Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.
Siesta Key Beach: This is the beautiful beach for which the rum is named. Consistently ranked as the #1 beach in America and one of the top in the world, this beach is certainly no secret but definitely worth a visit. The sand here is 99% pure quartz which makes it bright white, soft, and cool on your feet. The beach is very wide and although it can be crowded on the weekends, there is always plenty of room for your towel. Parking is free but there is a constant fight for spaces during peak hours so try to arrive early or late in the day.
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium: This nonprofit marine research institution houses a beautiful aquarium where you can see manatees, sharks, sea turtles, and other ocean creatures. They also offer eco-boat tours, kayaking, and shark encounters.
St. Armands Circle: Located on nearby Lido Key, the area known as St. Armands Circle is home to upscale shops, elegant restaurants with outdoor seating, live music, and nightlife. The area is beautifully landscaped and pedestrian-friendly, making it an excellent choice for dinner after the rum distillery tour.
The Ringling: One of Sarasota's most famous residents was John Ringling, founder of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. At the Circus Museum, you can see memorabilia from over 100 years of circus history and a detailed 44,000 piece model of the circus. Other attractions include the Museum of Art and the Ca’ d’Zan mansion. Admission includes both the Circus Museum and the Museum of Art, and various types tours of the mansion are available for an additional charge.