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El Ron Prohibido

El Ron Prohibido


By Robert Plotkin

A great aged rum with an intriguing backstory is an unbeatable combination. Such is the case with El Ron Prohibido, a classy, Solera-aged spirit 300 years in the making. To best appreciate what this remarkable rum is, it's highly beneficial to understand how it came to be.

By the turn of the 18th century, Spanish ships traveled throughout the Caribbean loaded with goods for its colonies in the New World. Among the items most in demand was sweet wine. When the wine barrels were emptied, the crews would refill the casks with Chinguirito, which is a type of Mexican rum, and ship them back to Spain. During the long ocean voyage, the wine barrels slowly imbued the rum with the aroma and flavor of their previous contents.

This infused rum grew so popular in Spain that local suppliers saw it as a threat to their own products. Eventually they sought an audience with King Felipe V de Burbón, who in 1700 issued a decree prohibiting the production in the New World of Habanero, the name given to as the rum. The prohibition remained in place until 1798.

El Ron Prohibido is now being produced at El Ron Prohibido Distillery in Pénjamo, Mexico. The process begins with the harvesting of local sugar cane. The cane is brought to the distillery where it is crushed to extract its naturally sweet juice and then transferred to a vat where it is mixed with water and allowed to ferment. The fermented wash, which is referred to as mosto, is distilled in continuous column stills.

Here's where things get really interesting. After the rum exits the still, it is placed in the distillery's Solera, a system for maturing spirits and fortified wines perfected by the Sherry and Brandy de Jerez producers of Spain.

In the Solera system, the older rums "educate" the younger ones, enhancing their taste and character. Solera aging also ensures that the blended rums will be consistent from one year to the next. The system utilizes a series of oak casks arranged in 3 tiers. The barrels on the top tier contain the youngest rums, those on the middle tier contain older rums and the barrels on the bottom are filled with the oldest rums. When deemed appropriate, the master blender will remove half the contents of the barrels from the lowest tier for bottling. Those barrels are then filled to capacity with rum from the middle tier. Young rums from the barrels on the highest tier are used to fill the casks on the middle tier. And so it goes year after year.

Ron Prohibido spends 12 years in the Solera system. It's acclaimed sweet and sour taste is acquired by combining rums of different aging profiles and blending in used raisin wine barrels. This blend results in a wide range of delicious aromas and flavors.

Guaranteed there's nothing remotely like Ron Prohibido behind your bar. This iconic rum has a dark, translucent, reddish/brown appearance, a satiny textured, medium-weight body, and a generous bouquet saturated with the semisweet aromas of raisins, dark chocolate, prunes, cherries and roasted coffee. Its aromatics do a marvelous job preparing the palate for what is headed its way. The rum's entry is soft and smooth as it slowly expands filling the mouth with the flavors of dried fruit, raisins, cacao, vanilla, butter and walnuts. The long finish is fruity, dry and spicy warm.

A few sips and you'll be saying, "here's to the end of Prohibition!"