Ron Zacapa

Ron Zacapa was established in 1976 and is a product of the Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala group. Branded the name Zacapa because at the time there was a festival celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the town Zacapa.

The master blender at Ron Zacapa is Ana Lorena Vasquez Ampie, she is responsible for the entire production process at Ron Zacapa and is the reason why people keep choosing Ron Zacapa as their rum of choice. Distillation for Zacapa is only performed once a year during a short period of 2 months directly after the harvest of the sugar cane. This is where life for Ron Zacapa begins, with the processing of sugar cane that comes from the south coast of Guatemala, from the fields located in Retalhuleu and Suchitepéquez. The sugar cane used is grown in the valleys on rich volcanic soil at 300-350 meters above sea level. The cane has to be in its second year of growth before it gets harvested either by machine or by hand.

The cane is transported to the mill to begin the process of extracting the sugar cane juice. Here it is weighed and analyzed to determine its quality before it is chosen to be used. If the cane is fit to be part of Ron Zacapa then it is washed, chopped and pressed allowing all the juice to be extracted. The juice obtained is then filtered to separated from the fibrous solids known as bagasse, which is not throw away, but used in the boiler as an energy source to power the whole production process. Only 5% of the worlds rum producers use freshly pressed cane Juice showing the quality and dedication of Ron Zacapa.

Once all the precious cane juice is extracted, it then moves on to the fermentation process. This takes around 120 hours in closed stainless steel containers. During the fermentation process various factors such as temperature, pH and other biochemical variables are strictly controlled.

Zacapa’s ageing and blending facility is located near Quetzaltenango and is where Lorena, master blender, spends most of her time. This facility is called ‘The House Above the Clouds’ and it is an important part of the complex ageing system of Zacapa. It is named this because it is situated on the mountainside about 2300 meters (7,655 feet) above sea level.  This is in contrast with most Caribbean region rums, where the rums age quickly due to their proximity to sea level. It is for this reason that Zacapa aged their rums at a high altitude thus allowing the rum and the wood sufficient time to produce what is technically know as high altitude ageing.

The purpose for ageing the rum is so the wood and rum can exchange each others virtues. The oak and the rum impart their own traits and character which gives birth to a perfectly balanced spirit. During ageing, Zacapa use several types of barrels to add as much mellowness, taste and aroma as possible. Some of the barrels are made from American White Oak and were previously used to store American Whiskey, Sherry or Pedro Ximenez Wines, where as others are made from French Oak that stored Cognac. The ageing process at Ron Zacapa is known as the Solera System which is quite different compared to any other rum companies ageing system. The simplest way to explain this system is that there are a set of barrel with liquid of the same type but different ages stacked on top of each other with the oldest liquid at the bottom and the youngest on top. A fraction of the oldest rum from the barrel on the bottom is removed and bottled, this barrel is then filled up with the next oldest rum from the barrel on top of it, so then this one must get filled up with rum from the barrel on top of that. This process goes on and on until the barrel on top containing the youngest rum is emptied and needs to be filled with fresh new rum. This process is repeated until the blending is complete and Ana Lorena Vasquez Ampie is happy for the rum to be diluted to a lower alcohol content from cask strength and then it gets bottles.

Although the creation of Ron Zacapa takes a long time and is extremely complex, each bottle must be of the same quality and standard which is fantastic rum intended for sipping alone.

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