Joined: Oct 08, 2003
|Posted: 2004-07-31 3:47 pm  Permalink|
As I usually do at work, I was web surfing today and came across this article in the Daily Telegraph UK on a new rum from the Santa Teresa rum company in Venezuela.
Daily Telegraph Article
I'm not sure if it's a subscription only article so here it is:
It's a rum do
Venezuela's fine national drink is about to make a splash in Britain, writes Jonathan Ray
Venezuela, a Spanish colony until 1811, proudly boasts of many things. These include its vast oil reserves, its waterfalls, its beautiful women (more Miss Worlds than any other country) and its remarkably fine rum.
"Ah, yes, we Venezuelans have much to be thankful for," says Henrique Vollmer, the co-owner of rum producer Hacienda Santa Teresa.
"Venezuelan rum, in particular, is very fine. It is smoother and lighter than other Caribbean rums and won't overpower you; and not only that, you feel great the day after drinking it."
Apart from the occasional beer, Venezuelans imbibe only spirits, with the drink of choice being Scotch whisky rather than home-grown rum. Up to 30 brands of whisky are on display in the liquor stores of Caracas, along with several brandies, vodkas and gins, and no more than two or three different wines.
"Whisky has always been the aspirational drink in Venezuela," Vollmer tells me. "I confess that it has been a frustrating battle getting my fellow countrymen to believe in their own drink, especially as it is recognised by many as the best in the world."
I have always found rum mysterious. I have never really known how or when to drink it, or even, if I'm honest, how it is made.
However, a paddle through Dave Broom's excellent new book, cleverly entitled Rum, and a recent visit to the sugar plantation and distillery of Hacienda Santa Teresa in Venezuela's Valleys of Aragua have left me enlightened. Further extensive research in the bars of Caracas has also confirmed that Venezuela does indeed live up to two of its boasts; the quality of the oil wells and waterfalls will have to be taken on trust.
Rum is made from sugarcane originating in the Far East and imported to Venezuela via the Canary Islands by the Spanish Conquistadors. They used it to sweeten their food and to make fermented beverages, the predecessors of rum.
Sugarcane was cultivated in Aragua, an area 30 miles west of Caracas, from the beginning of the 16th century, and it is here that the Count of Tovar y Blanco founded the Hacienda Santa Teresa in 1796. The estate remains in the hands of the Count's descendants: Henrique Vollmer and his brother, Alberto.
The estate was nearly destroyed and lost to the family during Simón Bolívar's struggles against the Spanish during the early 19th century. The brothers' great-great-great-grandmother, Panchita, then a young girl, was the only one of 34 members of her family to survive a massacre during the so-called War to the Death.
She was captured by a Spanish soldier, but was later recognised and bought from the soldier by one of her own former slaves. It was Panchita's son, Gustavo Julio Vollmer Ribas, who revitalised the Santa Teresa estate in 1885 and who, in 1896, produced its first rum. Until then, production had been restricted to sugar.
Today, the company produces and bottles 28 million litres of rum each year. The reason for my visit was the recent launch of its premium brand, 1796 Ron Antiguo de Solera, in Britain. This is a remarkable dark rum, aimed at de luxe Cognac and single-malt whisky drinkers.
Venezuelan rum is made from ground sugarcane (molasses), which is fermented, distilled and aged in oak. The other main rum-producing areas, the former French islands of the Caribbean, generally make their rums slightly differently, fermenting and distilling the cane juice instead, in a process known as rhum agricole. They are obliged to age them for only six months in oak, compared to a minimum of two years in Venezuela.
What further distinguishes 1796 from other rums is that it passes through a solera system similar to that used in the production of sherry and Spanish brandy. The rum is cascaded from cask to cask by hand. Young and light rums are blended with older and heavier ones, which range from four to 35 years of age.
"We feel confident that the devotion that goes into producing 1796 will prove to drinkers that rum is just as sophisticated as a fine Scotch or Cognac," says Henrique Vollmer.
"1796 is very special," adds Alberto. "Tradition, roots and origin are vital to us and that is why we created this rum in 1996 to mark our company's bicentenary.
"The fact that the rum is so soft and mellow is thanks to our unique solera process. It is sweet and fruity on the nose, with a long, velvety finish of leather, vanilla and bitter chocolate."
It is versatile, too, and can be drunk neat at the end of a meal, or with ice and a splash of soda, or as part of an elegant, long cocktail such as a Cuba Libre (mixed with Coke, bitters, lemon juice and gin). Indeed, so seductive did I find the rum that I elected to stay in Caracas an extra day rather than visit the fabled Angel Falls, content instead with a postcard of them and the view from my bar stool.
• 1796 Ron Antiguo de Solera costs £30 a bottle and can be ordered by phoning 020 7373 5231 or visiting http://www.soleraltd.com. It is also available at several London bars, including the Met Bar (020 7447 1000) and Asia de Cuba (020 7300 5588).
So after work I go to Albertson's and what do I see? Yup. I picked up a bottle and will give it a try later tonight.
[ Edited by Humuhumu to fix overly-long link ]
[ This Message was edited by: Humuhumu on 2004-07-31 16:06 ]
|I dream of tiki|
Joined: Jan 12, 2004
From: Pittsburgh, PA
|Posted: 2005-12-06 5:19 pm  Permalink|
I just found a liquor store in Key Largo of the Florida Keys that has several Santa Teresa rums in stock: Santa Teresa Orange Rum, Santa Teresa Gran Reserva (Ron Anejo), and Santa Teresa 1796 Ron Antiguo de Solera. Especially surprising was to find all three in airplane mini size so I can can try all before breaking the bank.
A friend of mine has parents about 8 or so miles south in Tavernier. Anytime someone wants a sample, I'll give a call to them or to Arnaldo who orders for the place, called Denny's Discount Liquors.
[ This Message was edited by: I dream of tiki 2005-12-06 17:37 ]