Ron Medellín 12: Colombian Rum Best Enjoyed Outside Colombia
Medellín. Few cities in our part of the world are more infamous. Throughout the late-1980s and early-90s, the city was synonymous with drugs and violence, a product of the narco-terrorist war incited by Pablo Escobar. Brazen assassinations and car bombings back then earned Medellín the title “World’s Most Violent City.” Today, though, things are different. A peaceful post-Escobar Medellín now attracts visitors from all over the world. They come to savor the city’s rich history, its nightlife, and near-perfect weather. When they do, no doubt many of them also savor Ron Medellín 12.
This Gran Reserva is a fine blend of Colombian rums aged between eight and 12 years. More than that, though, Ron Medellín 12 embodies the spirit of optimism currently surrounding its namesake city.
Its flavor is dry and light, echoing añejo rums I’ve enjoyed in the past, or a typical Puerto Rican rum. Each sip ends with a bit of a burn in the throat; no doubt a welcome treat in Medellín’s cool climes.
Medellín is located in Colombia’s Aburrá Valley. Elevation: just under 5,000 feet. As such, the city is blessed with ideal spring-like average temps in the low-70’s year-round. This despite its close proximity to the Equator. The conditions are not only 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. (Lower temperatures limits the Angel’s Share, which means more ron for us!) Like Nicaragua’s Flor de Caña, Ron Medellín also takes great pains to keep their rums all-natural and local.
All of 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 flavor perfect for sipping with a couple rocks, if you ask me.
Also if you ask me, Colombia is not the best place to enjoy Ron Medellín 12.
Best Enjoyed Beyond Colombia’s Borders
So yeah, as a rule, I always say that a rum’s country of origin is the best place to enjoy it. When it comes to Medellín 12, though, usual rules just don’t apply.
Reason: divergent proofs.
In the United States, a bottle of Grand Reserva is available at the 80-proof strength to which most of us rum lovers are accustomed. Down in Colombia, though, Ron Medellín 12 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 USA, 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, which equates to 70-proof.
Understanding that the weaker blends wouldn’t work with most of us outside Colombia, Ron Medellín started bottling a more potent version for export in the mid-2000s.
It’s worth looking for, savoring and enjoying, just like Medellín herself.