Friday Happy Hour: Ron Medellín 12 Year-Old Gran Reserva
Medellín. Few cities in our part of the world are more infamous. Throughout the late-1980s and early-90’s, the very name became synonymous with drugs and violence, a product of the narco-terrorist war incited by drug lord Pablo Escobar. Beyond brazen assassination attempts and car bombings, often carried out in broad daylight, earned Medellín the title “World’s Most Violent City” back then.
Things are decidedly different in Medellín these days, its universities, burgeoning commercial sector, near-perfect weather, nightlife and festivals attracting visitors from all over the world. If you go, I recommend you drink this stuff.
Ron Medellín Gran Reserva is a sublime blend of fine Colombian rums aged between eight and 12 years that to me embodies the spirit of optimism currently surrounding its namesake city. Dry and light, almost like an añejo or a typical Puerto Rican rum, it leaves a bit of a burn in the throat that would no doubt be welcome in Medellín’s cool climes.
Perched in Colombia’s Aburrá Valley at an elevation of just under 5,000 feet, Medellín is blessed with ideal spring-like average temps in the low-70’s year-round despite its close proximity to the Equator. Not only is this great for residents and visitors, but it’s also optimal for aging rum.
Like Guatemala’s Ron Zacapa, Ron Medellín benefits from the lower temperatures afforded by aging at altitude, which limits the Angel’s Share. Like Nicaragua’s Flor de Caña, Ron Medellín also takes great pains to keep their rums all-natural and local.
All the sugar cane used to make Ron Medellín is sourced from carefully selected fields across the country. You won’t find any added sugars or artificial flavors in this stuff either, a trait that allows all the complex smoky characteristics derived from all that aging in American oak casks to shine through beautifully.
Everything comes together to create a winning, sophisticated flavor perfect for sipping with a couple rocks… especially if you’re able to pick up a bottle of Grand Reserva here in the States where it’s available at the 80-proof strength to which most of us rum lovers are accustomed. Down in Colombia, Ron Medellín weighs in at 70-proof.
Why the difference?
As it’s been explained to me by my new friend, Javier, who distributes Ron Medellín in the U.S., the preference among rum drinkers in Colombia and much of Latin America is for softer blends used to mix low-octane cocktails. As such, most premium rums in Colombia contain 35% alcohol by volume.
Understanding that the weaker blends wouldn’t work with most of us outside Colombia, Ron Medellín started bottling a more potent version for export about five years ago.
It’s worth looking for, savoring and enjoying, just like Medellín herself.