Ron Medellín 19 and the Problem with Colombian Rums

With age should come wisdom; a heightened level of understanding bordering on clairvoyance. At least it should as it relates to the things you know, or think you know best. Things that with experience built over time you should know better about. Colombian rum is one such of those things for me. I should know better about them by now. I should know better about Ron Medellín 19.

The Problem with Colombian Rum

Our friends over at Rum Revelations lay out the issues with Colombian rum in great detail here. In short, though, Colombian rums are a myth, for the most part. None of them are really, actually 100% products of Colombia.

It’s not that Colombia doesn’t produce tons of sugar cane either. The crop is easily among the country’s biggest. When it comes to rum, though, precious little Colombian cane actually ever makes its way to the country’s distilleries in any way, shape, or form. 

As one of Colombia’s rum producers was quoted in the Rum Revelations piece…

In Colombia there is a lot of sugar cane, but for other uses, like bio fuel. 90% of the alcohol used to make rum is imported from Ecuador. Only the government liquor industries can produce Aguardiente and Rum.

Ron Medellín just happens to be one of those government-owned liquor brands. There’s no real telling, though, if any part of Ron Medellín 19 (or any Ron Medellín rum, for that matter) is wholly homegrown. 

Why does it Matter?

You can say, of course, that none of this matters. I mean, if you like Colombian rums, why should you care if they’re not 100% Colombian? All that should matter is whether or not the rum is any good, right?

Well yes, you can say that…and you’d be wrong.

Ron Medllin 19
Ron Medllin 19 | Photo by Steve Bennett

Terroir, as we’ve mentioned many times relative to the phenomenal AOC rhums from Martinique, matters. A pride of place, its people, their traditions and distinctive natural resources is lost without it.

Rums bearing false or misleading claims as to their points of origin dilute the value and prestige of honest rums that are what they say they are. This lessens the overall stature of the rum category within the broader spirits world.

If you care about great rum, respect the places where it’s made, and value the people who make it, then yeah, terroir really does very much matter.

About Ron Medellín 19…

So, where does this leave me with Ron Medellín 19? Well, let’s just say that I don’t love it. I’m still not turning it down, though, if that’s all there is to drink. (Not the strongest endorsement, I know.)

Ron Medellín 19 was produced to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Colombia’s Antioquia Liquor Factory (FLA), which produces Ron Medellín. The bottle is beautiful, as is the rich amber color of the rum. The color, in particular, portends of something sweet and robust.

On the nose, though, this ron falls a little flat. Any hints of anything are very faint, a nod to its light 35% ABV. (Learn why Colombian rums made for the domestic market carry a lower ABV than the standard baseline 40% here.)

As for the flavor, it’s surprisingly not as sweet as I initially thought it might be. Definitely skews more dry with subtle notes of wood and caramel.

In summation, this Colombian rum is just fine; nothing fancy, despite the grand anniversary it commemorates.

Medellín leaves me wanting more…though not necessarily of it.

Last updated by Steve Bennett on .

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