Chef Paul Menta and Tony Mantia founded the Key West First Legal Rum Distillery in 2012, and it is the first legal rum distillery Key West has seen since Prohibition.
The distillery is just one of Chef Menta’s endeavors; he also founded the Cuban Coffee Queen and a sustainable seafood market. These ventures are his passions, gained from his experiences at culinary school and traveling the world before he finally settled in Key West over thirty years ago. With Key West First Legal Rum Distillery, Menta’s goal was to create a unique rum making process and to provide locally made rum to locals and visitors alike. And it is something that he has apparently become very good at since his rums have won several awards.
Visitors will gain insight into the rum making process at Key West First Legal Rum Distillery’s daily free tours offered Noon to 5pm every 20 minutes. Tours last approximately 15 minutes. There are also free rum tastings and free mojito-making classes, which are based on Menta’s experience in Havana.
The people at the distillery are noticeably proud of what they do. The guide explains the process followed to make the different varieties of rum offered. Then, back in the storefront, visitors are able to sample different rums and then purchase their favorite to bring home as a token of their Key West visit.
Currently, there are a dozen varieties of rum that they produce here. I tried Bad Bitch Rum, Duval Street Spiced Rum, and the Vanilla Brûlée Rum. These were served with our choice of mixer, soda or juice depending on the rum chosen. Each was distinctly different in flavor and smooth going down.
The staff was friendly and while the digs are not fancy, it is a fun experience, especially for those that are really into rum and the distillery process.
Located at 105 Simonton Street, Key West First Legal Rum Distillery is open from 11am to 7pm Monday through Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sundays. All are welcome to visit the distillery, including children and dogs!
And to see what is happening on the island during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see other upcoming special events.
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