When we think of the best rum producing nations, Peru isn't always somewhere that comes to mind, but Peru is one of the nations able to grow sugar cane on the scale and of the quality required to produce fantastic rum locally. Most importantly with Ron Cartavio, they have a distillery capable of making great tasting rum.
This however was not always the case, as years of national ownership and under-investment left the ageing and often broken equipment, incapable of producing consistent and superior quality rum.
The story of Ron Cartavio starts in 1929 when the Cartavio Sugar Company (owned by WR Grace & Co, which started as a Peruvian steamship operator and is now the American chemical conglomerate based in Maryland), opened a distillery next to their sugarcane plantation to make use of the molasses that were left over from its sugar making process. The business was nationalised in 1968 and for the next 26 years suffered from a lack on investment, focus and organisation. Fortunately in 1994, the wave of privatising businesses across Peru saw Cartavio S.A. formed (later renamed Destilerias Unidas), which took to modernising the facilities (such as their vacuum column stills, which boil the mash at lower temperatures, thus reducing the heat degradation of the mash ingredients and humidity-controlled cellars) and providing the driving force that has seen Ron Cartavio become one of the great rum producers.
Located in the extremely fertile Chicama Valley in northern Peru, Ron Cartavio's sugarcane plantations benefit from the arid climate and nutrient rich water source in the Andes, ensuring it is able to produce the highest quality sugarcane. The distillery is adjacent to the sugar mill, ensuring the freshest molasses is available for fermentation Today around 85% of the turnover raised by their modern facility is made from sugar sales, ensuring they are very focused on the quality key ingredient in rum, sugarcane. Whilst alcohol makes the smaller part of their sales they continue to develop and innovate, with Ron Cartavio XO a relatively recent addition created to celebrate their 80th anniversary.
As this XO sits at the very top of their range (and in our opinion all Peruvian rum), we thought it was the perfect way to introduce Peruvian rum to our members as our May Bottle of the Month.
Ron Cartavio XO is created using a mix of approximately 80% column still and 20% pot still (a British 4,000 litre John Dore pot still, normally used for making heavier rums), which is aged using the solera process in America, French Limousin and Solvenian casks...these are the first distillers I know that use Slovenian casks, which impacts a flavour somewhere between the American and French casks. The blend includes rum up to thirty years old, with a weighted average of eighteen years.
I don't want to go into too much more detail on the flavour, appearance, aroma, etc, as that's for you to experience yourself...all I say is that it was a pleasure to trial and choose this rum as The Summerton Club's May Bottle of the Month, and I look forward to enjoying it in my own time.