One of the other things they did while working to fix the slums was
save C.A. Ron Santa Teresa from financial ruin.
Unlike most rums sold in the U.S., which are mixed but unaged, rum
in Venezuela - where the spirit is serious business - must be aged
a minimum of two years in order to be called rum. That makes even
the less expensive rums Santa Teresa has marketed so far in the
States (Grand Reserva, a fruity, woody, two-to-five-year-old golden
añejo; Rhum Orange, an elegantly silky rum steeped with Valencia
orange peel, not orange flavoring; and Araku, a sophisticated
coffee-infused rum, to be introduced this summer) Cadillac quality,
And 1796, the firm's top-of-the-line rum, is a Rolls Royce. The
exquisitely balanced bicentennial brew is the world's only rum
produced in a solera. A costly artisan system normally used for
Spanish brandy and sherry, the solera system blends four- to
35-year-old rums, then ages and flavors the blend further in a
stacked series of old French Limousin oak barrels. "I've seen some
very commercial rums use the term 'solera' on their labels while
never using a true solera system, which requires patience and a lot
of human attention," explains spirits evangelist Sean Ludford,
whose website, www.spiritsexperts.com
analyzes liquors. "Rather, these commercial makers simply create a
blend of rums of various ages."
In contrast, the true solera's finished product is rich, nutty,
honeyed, and spicy, full-bodied but so smooth it practically purrs.
It's rum capable of converting people who think they hate rum. And
mixing it with Coke would be sinful. "'In terms of quality, 1796
joins the relatively small category of contemplative wood spirits
like single-malt scotch or cognac, and it can be used in the same
way," enthuses Ludford. "It offers similarly complex aromas and
flavors. You sit down after a good meal and enjoy it straight, when
you want to relax."