For many years, I avoided the rum portion of the cocktail menu—partly due to overdrinking the spirit in the past, partly because it’s typically added in drinks that are too sweet for my liking. So, it was a surprise to both myself and my friends when I returned from a trip to Nicaragua with a few bottles of the country's locally distilled rum and suggested sipping it neat one night.
Established in 1890, Flor de Caña is the Latin American country’s most renowned export. “It is one of the oldest brands in the country and one of the most beloved; it’s become a symbol of pride for the country,” says Flor de Caña global ambassador Mauricio Solórzano. For 22 years, Solórzano has worked with Flor de Caña to share the story of its Italian founder who immigrated to Nicaragua and established the only rum company in the country—a top-tier rum now recognized among the premier brands in the world.
With a variety of slow-aged labels, ranging from the company's most popular seven-year Gran Reserva to the luxury collection 25 years, Flor de Caña is amongst one of the few high quality rums in the world that proves less is more. In fact, if I’m not sipping the sugarcane-based spirit neat, I am likely to mix the seven year añejo with club soda and a squeeze of lime; refreshing, light and a thirst-quencher that shatters the time-old stereotype that rum is only used in sweet drinks. But don’t take my word for it, I chatted with Solórzano to get the inside scoop on Nicaragua’s prideful spirit; the rum that brought me to the dark side of the cocktail menu.
What are your thoughts on rum?
It is the purest among all liquors, mainly because the alcohol is obtained directly from fermenting its raw material, molasses. In turn, other alcohols require an additional step. For example, to produce whisky first you need to transform rye, wheat, corn or barley into malt, and then ferment the malt. In addition, rum is a versatile liquor; you can mix it in refreshing tropical cocktails, in classic premium cocktails, or even enjoy neat or on the rocks.
How do you enjoy rum?
My personal favorite drink is the Flor Ginger; it's a drink everyone can enjoy and very refreshing. It’s Flor de Caña 12-Year, ginger ale and an orange peel. Simple and fun!
What is your favorite place to drink rum?
At my beach house on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, while watching the most incredible sunsets. It just doesn’t get better than that.
What do you think it pairs best with?
When talking about sipping rums, I think there’s nothing better than our Flor de Caña 25-Year, the crown jewel of our portfolio of rums. This rum, served neat or on the rocks, pairs incredibly well with chocolate, especially 70 percent cocoa chocolate from Nicaragua. It’s truly an amazing experience.
Can you debunk any common misconceptions or fables of rum?
The most common misperception of rum is that it is sweet or that it has a high sugar content. However, Flor de Caña rums have zero sugar content. Our rums are naturally aged without any sort of additives, accelerants or artificial ingredients. We only use three elements: alcohol of maximum purity, premium bourbon barrels and time.
What else should the world know about Flor de Caña?
We’re very proud to be one of the first global spirits to be Fair Trade certified and sustainably sourced. This certification assures consumers that our rums are produced in compliance with over 300 rigorous labor, social and environmental standards. We also distill our rum with 100 percent renewable energy, plant 50,000 trees annually and support various charity organizations in Nicaragua. Commitment to sustainability has been a family value since the first generation and continues to be a core value 130 years later.
Photos courtesy of Flor de Caña.