From the rainforests of Guatemala, the home of Ron Zacapa rum, comes a truly unique and individual blend, Reserva Limitada 2014. It is the second in an exciting new annual series of luxury vintage special editions, hand selected by Master Blender Lorena Vasquez, and only available in limited quantities.
The sublime complexity of Reserva Limitada 2014 is created by slow-aging barrels of Zacapa for two years in a herb garden created high above the clouds, in the cool temperate climate of the Guatemalan highlands. At this altitude, the rich and fertile soil nourishes more than 20 different herbs such as fennel, coriander, anise and tarragon which in turn, subtly scent the air and infuse in the rum. Inspired by traditional Mayan rituals which used aromatic herbs in cooking and religion, this slow-aged artisanal rum is a true expression of Guatemala and Mayan heritage.
The infusion with the herbs creates a complex flavor with notes of melted caramel, vanilla and cinnamon. The flavor of the liquid is enhanced best when it is enjoyed neat or with ice but can be made into a range of luxurious cocktails that play on the herbal elements.
This limited edition blend will be available at internationally renowned London bars including the Artesian at The Langham, London and Oblix at the Shard. A small allocation will also be available to buy at stockists including Gerry’s Wines & Spirits and The Whisky Exchange at an RRP of £82 for a 70cl bottle. Only 642 bottles of this are available in the UK, making it a truly luxurious limited edition; the perfect gift this Christmas but a delight to enjoy all year round.
Like all Zacapa rums, Reserva Limitada 2014 is made from the sugar canes of the volcano-shadowed Guatemalan lowlands, with an ageing process that takes place above the clouds at 2,300 meters above sea level. Traditional hand woven petate bands adorn each bottle and are individually created in Guatemala by skilled craftswomen.
After featuring Botran in a previous piece, I’ve been lucky enough to try some more of their portfolio, and I thought it only makes sense to showcase the brand properly. So what is Botran and why was I eager to seek out more of their range?
Botran is originally a name recognized for sugar cane production where the Botran family rum legacy began in Quetzaltenango a city poised in highlands of Guatemala. Here, five brothers discovered the ideal conditions for high-altitude, slow aging of rum. Since establishing Industria Licorera Quezalteca in 1939, the Botran family have been, and still are, involved in every stage of the rum production that also includes the unique adaptation of an age-old nurturing process called ‘Sistema Solera’ that involves the blending of younger and older rums as they age for years in a combination of seasoned white oak barrels.
Guatemala also has some of its own rules when it comes to having a spirit branded as rum from its land. To be labeled as such, the Guatemalan standards requires that only virgin honey from the first press of the sugar cane be used. The rums of Guatemala are also distinguished by their unique, high-altitude aging process in the highlands.
So how does this unique process come about?
Using virgin sugar cane honey from plantations in Retalhuleu, south Guatemala, it is fermented for around 120 hours before being distilled within continuous column stills. To achieve the distinctive character of each one of its rums, they distill its rums individually differently for each product. Botran rums are distilled in stills with copper components that improve the quality of the rum and are then aged through the Solera System. Botran reaches adulthood in Quetzaltenango, the city where their aging facilities are located. Among the many aging secrets that make their rums unique is the charring of some the barrels used in the Solera System. The marrying process where the rums rest for up to a year.
So how does this Guatemalan rum fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes, including a Blanca that is very rare to find at the moment –
Botran Reserva Blanca – 40%
Clean, soft nose of vanilla, whilst the palate enjoyed an incredibly smooth offering of dried fruits, hints of wood and vanilla. A slight spice developed near the end of the tongue but it created a fresh, short finish.
Botran Solera 1893 – 40%
A blend of rums between 5 and 18 years, creates a rather bold and rich essence of vanilla on the nose which carries over onto the palate, becoming sweeter. It mellows soon after and although a short offering, is rather smooth.
Botran Reserva – 40%
A bend of rums between 5 and 14 years, clean and fresh on the nose with a slight aroma of vanilla. A kick of cinnamon to begin on the palate, but mellows quickly with flavours of caramel and fudge.
A great portfolio to grace any bar or shelf, especially when you can create this –
Botran Rum Sour
50 ml Botran Reserva
25 ml Fresh squeezed lemon juice
25 ml Sugar syrup (or 2 tsp sugar)
3 drops Angostura bitters (optional)
Combine Botran Reserva rum, lemon juice and syrup (or sugar) in the shaker half-filled with ice cubes. Shake well, and strain into a sour glass. Garnish with an orange slice and a Maraschino cherry.
Optional: begin recipe by coating shaker with Angostura bitters, then pouring out excess.
If you create the Botran Rum Sour, pair it with this –
Fried Calamari with Chili-Coconut-Lemongrass Sauce
For the sauce:
2 shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
½ tablespoon ginger, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon lemongrass
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup coconut milk
½ jalapeno, chopped
1 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
1 tablespoons nuoc nam (Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce)
Puree all ingredients together until smooth.
For the Calamari:
1 pound clean squid with the tentacles; cleaned and sliced into ½ inch thick rings
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups All Purpose flour
Vegetable Oil for deep-frying
Pour enough oil into a heavy large saucepan to reach about 3 inches deep. Heat the oil over medium heat to 350 degrees. Place the squid into the buttermilk; strain the mixture after 10 minutes then toss into the flour to coat. Shake off excess. Carefully place about ¼ of the batch of calamari into the hot oil, fry until pale golden and crispy then remove and place onto a paper towel lined baking sheet or large plate. Repeat until all the calamari is cooked. Then, season with a touch of salt and place into a metal bowl. Spoon some of the chili sauce and toss quickly and serve with extra sauce.
Fantastic pairing! Give it a go, or at least the rums. Expect to see them more prominantly in bars in the coming year too.