Candela Mamajuana – Rum Liqueur Born of a Spicy Rendezvous

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before… Young guy travels to the Dominican Republic, heads to the pool at his resort, and meets a girl. She isn’t just any girl, though. Not to him. They hit it off instantly, fueled in no small part by mamajuana, a local bush rum liqueur concoction purpose-made to boost the libido. He’s never heard of it before, but is soon hooked…by the concoction and the girl. This is how Candela Mamajuana came to be.

Lover Boy Entrepreneur

Or, at least that’s the story that the brand’s founder and CEO, Alejandro Russo, laid on me when we met for lunch in Coral Gables a few years back. A serial/successful entrepreneur with a background in finance, Alejandro started his first business at the ripe old age of 19.

Nineteen! You know, that age when most of us were consumed with gaming, grades, and goofing off? For Alejandro, it seems, his teen years were better spent chasing the kind of G’s that pay the bills.

Or, more to the point relative t0 Candela Mamajuana, the kind of G’s that enable you to start your very own spirits company from scratch.

Candela Mamajuana
Candela Mamajuana, born of love | Photo by Steve Bennett

Born of Love…and Necessity

While his DomRep tryst sparked his initial love of mamajuana, it was another more practical reason that inspired Alejandro to start his own brand. In essence, he couldn’t find any mamajuana back home in the States. 

To be sure, commercially made/distributed mamajuana brands have been few and far between over the years. If you were ever lucky enough to find one outside of the DR, it was likely produced on a limited basis for a particular establishment.

More prevalent were “just add rum” bottles with all of the herbs, roots, spices, and tree barks required to make mamajuana included. Don Zavier is one such example we came across several years ago.

The Same, Only Different

Candela Mamajuana, however, is different in that widely distributed. It’s also the actual mamajuana juice. No sticks, twigs, or spices in their bottles.

At the same time, though, it retains the individuality that makes traditional mamajuana a unique drinking experience. 

(Editor’s note: To learn all about the origins of authentic DomRep mamajuana, check out this post from our archives.)

The “Family-Kept Secret Recipe” noted on the label is indeed different from any mamajuana I’ve ever tried. One reason for this could be Candela’s use of fresh-pressed sugar cane in its distillation. This, of course, is a departure from the molasses base of traditional DomRep rums.

Candela also employs all natural ingredients in producing its blend. This, though, is really a basic must when it comes to mamajuana.

Anyway, all of this is nice, but it begs the question…

Is Candela any good?

Candela Mamajuana Tasting Notes

As mamajuana’s go, Candela is surprisingly smooth and easy-drinking. I mean, at an ABV of only 60%, I guess it should be, right? 

At the same time, though, it’s not super overly sweet as you’d expect from a spiced rum liqueur. There’s a bit more balance and refinement here. A surprising bit, actually. So much so that if you grew up drinking traditional homemade mamajuana, you’ll definitely think Candela is too soft.

That, however, is not necessarily a bad thing… Especially if a few sips with a special someone sparks some romance as it did for Alejandro some years ago…

Enjoyed neat, or with a modicum of rocks, Candela Mamajuana is easy niceness.

Where To Buy Candela Mamajuana

As noted above, Candela is widely available in the United States, particularly in Florida and New York. If you can’t find it on liquor store shelves near you, fear not. Candela can be ordered online directly from the manufacturer, as well as a variety of well-known retailers. Here are a few links…

Total Wine


ABC Fine Wine and Spirits

Expect to pay anywhere between US$25 and $30 a bottle.


Last updated by Steve Bennett on .

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