I’ve sung the praises—to whomever would listen—about another fine rum from Guatemala that’s better known than Botran, but apparently they’re doing something right in that country as this one is excellent too. Is Guatemala big enough to support two rum distilleries? Actually no: both this brand and Ron Zacapa are part of the generic sounding Industrias de Licoreas de Guatemala.
The Botran family has been making rum since 1939, but I have to confess I’d never seen this label outside of Guatemala until I visited Miami last month and saw it on several billboards and bus stop ads. Since they’re obviously putting some resources into getting the word out in the U.S., I bought a bottle in a downtown liquor store to see if it was worth talking about.
Indeed it is. Situated somewhere between the liquid caramel of Centenario rum from Costa Rica and the heavy bite of Flor de Cana from Nicaragua, Ron Botran Añejo Reserva offers a nice blend of smoothness and complexity that makes it fine to drink neat but not overpowering if you use it in a (good) cocktail. It hits all the right notes you’d expect from a fine Central American rum: toasted caramel, vanilla, spice, and a long, pleasant finish. Those with a refined palate might taste almonds and some tropical fruit overtones. With a warm copper color and a medium body feel in the mouth, this is a rum you could sip for hours.
Guatemalan rum is aged in the highlands, not at sea level like most Caribbean brands, so it can benefit from longer aging (and not taste like a stack of firewood or a pair of boots).
The distillery owns its own sugar cane fields, which can’t hurt in terms of quality, plus they typically blend barrels aged 5 to 14 years together rather than separating those into different products. From what I can taste, this is a good strategy. Think of this then as the blended version of Ron Zacapa, which is sold based on age in the barrels.
I saved the best part for last: Ron Botran Añejo Reserva retails for $25 or so (my bottle was $19) in the U.S., making this one of the greatest bargains you’ll find in the rum section or your liquor store—if they have it. It looks more expensive than this with its relief shield in glass on the front and the cork top, plus it certainly tastes more expensive than many others in this range from the Caribbean. A great find.