SPIRITS of a different kind took centre stage inside one of the city’s oldest buildings as a cathedral staged its first rum festival.
Dozens of people visited Portsmouth Cathedral, in High Street, Old Portsmouth, on Saturday night to join the fun.
A selection of 11 different vendors from across the globe set up shop in the historic building to show off their wares to punters.
Dark, white and spiced rums from exotic destinations like Jamaica, Barbados, Guadeloupe, Martinique and St Lucia were available to try – as well as a British rum made in Portsmouth.
The night was organised by Portsmouth Cathedral and Portsmouth Distillery with the aim of raising cash to pay for vital repairs to the religious site.
Garfield Reynolds, of Southsea, travelled to the night with pals Lee Neale, 48, of Portsmouth, and Rocky Sharp, 54, of Portsmouth.
The 52-year-old, whose love for rum came during his time serving with the Royal Navy, was impressed by the festival.
‘I think this is a brilliant way to use the cathedral,’ he said. ‘We have got this fantastic big space so I think it’s great that it’s being used in such a different way.’
Debra Callow travelled to the cathedral with her husband, Peter, 56, and their friends to celebrate a pal’s birthday.
The 55-year-old, of Southsea, said: ‘We’re impressed that there are so many rums on off here from around the world. We’re going to be trying them all.’
As well as featuring a selection of different rums, punters were also treated to live Caribbean-style music during the evening.
Roger Barnes, managing director of Spirit Elites, was among those showing off his bottled booze from Jamaica.
He said: ‘This is definitely a first for me, being at a rum festival in a cathedral. But it’s an amazing idea.
‘It shows that the church is embracing modern society and that’s a great thing.’
Vince Noyce, of the Portsmouth Distillery, invited all the rum firms to the event and said it was an incredible night, despite having his initial reservations about the festival.
‘When the cathedral first got in touch with us about putting on a rum festival inside it, we didn’t believe them, we thought they were pulling our legs,’ he said.
‘People are slightly sceptical about doing things like this in the cathedral. But my father is a vicar and I’ve grown up in churches all my life. The church is supposed to be the house for everybody, so having a party in it is no more unusual than having a party in your own house.’
Speaking of the evening, he said it was a great success and added: ‘Portsmouth Cathedral is the most iconic building in Old Portsmouth certainly, and arguably one of the most iconic buildings in the city. So to be able to showcase the building itself and the area is a great thing but to be able to get people to have a bit of rum while doing it is even better.’