The main producer world wide of Rum is in Latin America. My time in Venezuela for the last nine weeks was great and I got to taste some fine Rum. Yes, I also saw interesting crafted arts like sculptures, decorations and ornaments. But I encountered Rum (Spanish Ron) to be very characteristic for Venezuela and also very traditional. It is carefully manufactured and exported to all over the world. And it is quite enjoyable!
Let me quote (and translate roughly because my Spanish after nine weeks is limited) the Venezuelan journalist Humberto Márquez about rum: “In the poetic imagination of those who are exponents of rum inhabits a sense of magical history that is activated every time our lips wet in his graces. Are stories of Cologne, white and black legends, stories elevations and submissive slaves, the independence epic, lost lands and reclaimed lands, accompanying it to the sound of drum music, its aphrodisiac properties and remedy the soul, because it is medicine against the Depression…” Well what a glory that drink seems to be. Yes, yes, I know this article is on crafts and craftsmanship and I do focus on it, I promise, so keep reading! The proud Venezuelan tradition of crafting and manufacturing Rum professionally is definitely more than 200 years old. The distillation of Rum can be found in the 17th Century in the Caribbean area. Sources tell us, that sugarcane plantation slaves found out that molasses, a byproduct of sugar refining, can be fermented into alcohol. In Venezuela by the way to qualify as rum, besides other requirements, it has to have 40% alcohol by volume. Spanish-speaking islands and countries traditionally produce añejo rums. Those are said to have a smooth taste and have an excellent reputation. Rums from Venezuela are typical of this style. Rum is special in terms of production. Unlike most of the other drinks around the world like whiskey or cognac, rum does not have a defined production method. It is highly based on the local traditions and procedures, which is one of the reasons I took rum as the topic, even though it might not be the first thing that comes in mind in terms of intangible heritage of craftsmanship. It defiantly plays a significant role in the economy of Venezuela. Before the 1960 Rum was the main export until it was outrun by petroleum. Venezuelan Rum needs to be aged at least two years by law, which is one of the longest minimum ageing requirements for Rum worldwide. Of course without the sugar cane production the production of Rum in Venezuela is unthinkable. So we can break it down to the factors of sugar cane, the minimum of 40% ABV and two years of aging in the casks to qualify as Ron de Venezuela. To investigate the crafting more in detail, I will give an insight in the production of the Ron Diplomático as it is the requirements for the different rums are quite diffuse. Diplomático Exclusiva Reserva is a premium rum which is produced from both column still rums and pot still rum. Within the blend are rums which are aged up to 12 years. For factors are important for this Venezuelan crafted Rum: the fermentation, the distillation, the already mentioned aging, and the blending. Attention – this is no advertisment! The fermentation of Diplomático Rums is an important part of the process. It is made from sugar cane molasses and sugar cane honeys. The molasses has a high concentration of sugar, but with a low ash content and low viscosity. The time for the fermentation is between one and two days, depending on the wished end product. In the distillation the alcohol obtained from the fermentation process is heated. This procedure separates the components. The vaporised alcohol is then condensed to form the raw spirit. As I already said, the alcohol ages for at least two years. For the Diplomático it is stored in former malt or bourbon whiskey casks. After years of aging, the rum is blended with other rums to create a unique taste. And thus, the rum is made and ready to drink since hundreds of years. We learned a lot in terms of production, and still we have a lot to learn about responsibility. But I have to admit, it is a fascinating subject and process and developed a lot in terms of complexity and finesse. Handle with care!
Sources: Blue, Anthony Dias (2004). The Complete Book of Spirits : A Guide to Their History, Production, and Enjoyment. HarperCollins. http://www.el-nacional.com/comerybeber/Ron-Venezuela-DOC-melaza-rie_0_876512539.html http://www.ministryofrum.com/countrydetails.php?c=91 https://vimeo.com/49347196 http://www.losronesdevenezuela.com/ https://therumhowlerblog.com/rum-reviews/dark-rums/diplomatico-reserva-exclusiva/ http://www.rondiplomatico.com/ Pictures:
2. http://www.baroleo.de/blog/wie-wird-rum-eigentlich-hergestellt-die-rumherstellun 3. http://www.rhum-info.de/rum-herstellung.html