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The Story of Ron Zacapa, Guatemala's Favorite Rum

The Story of Ron Zacapa, Guatemala's Favorite Rum

Picture of Jack Guy
Updated: 31 January 2018

As rum has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years, drinkers have come to appreciate Guatemala’s most famous alcoholic export: Ron Zacapa.

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Ron Zacapa XO, Guatemala’s famous rum © Asian Brasserie / flickr

The best rum in the world

Ron Zacapa is a huge name in rum circles, considered by many to be the finest in the world. It is home to vast plantations of sugar cane, which is used to make rum, that grow in perfect conditions in rich volcanic soils.

While many companies harvest sugar cane using machinery, Zacapa uses special machetes to harvest by hand. Another difference is the use of virgin sugar cane honey as the base of the rum, instead of the molasses used by most other distilleries. As a result, Zacapa has a sweeter and smoother profile.

Rum Tasting at the Brandy Library, New York City

Ron Zacapa from Guatemala © Jazz Guy / flickr

Processes developed over centuries

Another unique point is the use of a strain of yeast extracted from pineapples. This means that the virgin honey ferments slowly and adds more flavor. Once the rum has been distilled it is taken to an aging facility at an altitude of 2,300 meters, where the altitude means the rum ages more slowly.

These processes have been refined over the course of the history of the company, which was founded in 1876. As a result of the dedication of master blenders and other staff, Zacapa has won multiple awards.

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Ron Zacapa from Guatemala © Graeme Maclean / flickr

Try some and you won’t regret it

Zacapa is produced in southwestern Guatemala, in an incredible landscape that ranges from sugar cane plantations to mountain ranges. Most tourists to the country don’t visit this area, but it’s well worth the trip. While the distillery isn’t open to visitors, you can taste the rums in bars such as Villa Los Añejos in Guatemala City. These days you can drink it in Guatemala and around the world, including in the Wetherspoon’s chain of pubs in the UK.

For the first time, drink it over ice to enjoy the taste to the full. You don’t want any mixers muddying the flavors that have taken so long to develop.