In rum circles the name Botran is spoken of with well deserved reverence. It's not only the name of one of the founding families of Guatemalan rum, but Botran has become one of the internationally renowned brands and a standardbearer of quality. These ultra-sophisticated rums are now available in the U.S. market led most capably by top-of-the-line Botran Solera 1893 Ron Añejo.
The Casa Botran Distillery—named "Distillery of the Year" at the 2013 International Rum Conference—is located in southern Guatamala, close to the Tululá sugar mill where the sugar cane used in production is cultivated. The area's climate, topography and soils are ideal for growing sugar cane that possess high sugar concentrations. After harvesting, the cane is brought to the mill where the cane is pressed to extract the virgin sugar cane juice. The free running juice is then heated, clarified and filtered to remove any impurities. Once clean, the syrupy juice is evaporated to better concentrate its sugars.
The cane juice is then transferred to stainless steel vats where it is mixed with a proprietary strain of yeast and mountain spring water, and allowed to slowly ferment. The process converts the cane's sugars into alcohol. After the process has completed, the fermented wash is distilled in a custom made column still outfitted with copper components.
Here's where the magic begins. After the rum exits the still, it is transported to the Guatemalan Highlands for aging. There Casa Botran established a Solera System for maturing its rums, a process devised in Spain and used by the famed sherry and brandy de Jerez producers.
In the Solera system, the older rums "educate" the younger ones, enhancing their taste and character. It also ensures that their blended rums will be consistent from one year to the next. The Solera utilizes ex-Port pipes, sherry oak casks and charred, American white oak barrels used previously to age bourbon. The barrels are arranged in three tiers. Those on the top tier contain the youngest rums, those on the middle tier are filled older rums and the barrels on the bottom hold the oldest rums. When deemed appropriate, the master blender will remove half of the contents of the barrels on the lowest tier for bottling. The barrels are then filled to capacity with rum from the middle tier. The youngest rums in the barrels on the top tier are used to fill the casks on the middle tier.
Once the rums have reached their optimum maturity they are blended together by the Master Blender to attain the desired taste profile. Prior to bottling, the rums are rendered to 40% alcohol (80 proof) with pure spring water.
The elder statesman of the portfolio is the inimitable Botran Solera 1893 Ron Añejo, a luxurious spirit Solera aged for up to 18 years. During its extended stay in wood, the rum develops a deep mahogany hue, a curvaceous body and a generous bouquet featuring vanilla, caramel, cinnamon, nutmeg and jasmine. It's a beautiful aromatic display. The palate is a lavish offering of chocolate, vanilla bean, cinnamon, caramel, plums and raisins. Its rich complement of aromas and sumptuous flavors make this barrel-aged gem an inspired choice to serve in a snifter after dinner.
Equally impressive is Botran Reserva Ron Añejo, a blend of rums that spend up to 15 years in the distillery's Solera. It's graced with a lush body and the prominent aromas of vanilla, spice and dark chocolate. Perhaps more than any other, this marque best displays the influence of the sherry and port barrels has on the nose and then again on the long, flavorful finish.
The youngest rum in the portfolio is Botran Reserva Blanca Ron Añejo, which is aged in the distillery's Solera and then rigorously filtered for essential purity and to remove the color obtained during barrel aging. The crystal clear rum has a velvety textured, medium-weight body and a bouquet of tropical fruit, vanilla and spice with prominent notes of toasted oak. Its entry is spicy warm and the quickly bathes the palate with the flavors of citrus zest, fruit, cacao and bananas. The lingering finish is warm and spicy.
All that's left to say about these elegant rums is welcome to the United States. ¡Salud!