My brother, visiting from CT, and I, who live here full time, made an afternoon visit to Drum Circle Distillers, makers of Siesta Key Rum. We're big supporters of local merchants wherever we go, and he particularly wanted to learn more about this artisan operation. For my part, I had enjoyed DCD's Siesta Key Spiced Rum in the past, but had been unable to prevail upon my sibling to try it up until then (spiced rum is one of his favorites) because he had a preferred maker of his own. Tucked away in an unlikely corner of Sarasota, we finally found the place hidden in a row of warehouses, and our scheduled tour had already started, under the personable tutelage of the distillery's founder, Troy Roberts. I LIKE rum, but I'm not much of a drinker, so I really didn't expect much out of the tour for myself. I was wrong. I had NO IDEA how much time, knowledge, engineering, planning, artistry, investment, creativity, experimentation, and meticulous attention to detail went into producing a good rum, and the tour was both fun and fascinating. We even got to taste "raw" rum, before it is blended with flavors (and SKR uses only natural flavoring) and put through multiple distillations, resulting in their sinfully smooth flagship, Siesta Key Spiced Rum. The difference between the two REALLY made us appreciate what expertise is required to make a fine rum! Troy and his crew are clearly passionate about their product, and it shows in every respect -- the spotless cleanliness and orderliness of the place, the demeanor of its workers, and the wonderful product of their work. We even got to learn where luck and the way the sun comes up at their location played a role in their success, and quite a success it is. The rum is award-winning, and my brother is now a convert. His only disappointment in the entire experience is that he found that the only distributor near his home in CT is about an hour's drive away. I suspect he's still going to secure a bottle or two of his own -- the one we bought at the end of the tour didn't even last the remaining two weeks of his visit!
If you are visiting Sarasota and have had enough sun, or find yourself here on a rare rainy day, call Circle Drum Distillers and set up a tour. It's worth it, and like us, you'll probably find yourself bringing home a bottle of that splendid spiced rum they make, and looking for a local retailer yourself.