Ron Colón Salvadoreño- The Spirit Of El Salvador

Ron Colón Salvadoreño- The Spirit Of El Salvador

El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America. Bordered by Honduras on the northeast, Guatemala on the northwest and the Pacific Ocean on the south, it is a country most known for its eventful political history which includes bloody uprisings, civil wars and conspiracies. But El Salvador is also a country that produces some of the finest cane sugar and coffee in the world. And it is a country that inspired two bar industry veterans, Thurman Wise and Pepijn Janssens, to combine these two ingredients to create Ron Colón Salvadoreño Rum.

Working with spirit brands, Thurman Wise and Pepijn Janssens spent their time traveling around the world. It was on a 22- day trip through 16 Latin America countries in 2018 when they first visited the country of El Salvador. While most of us have heard only terrible things about El Salvador and would not think about traveling there, Wise and Janssens were dazzled by the country’s beauty. They explored the splendor of the country which includes world class surf spots along the coast, magnificent volcanos, amazing produce and coffee. What they realized on their travels was that while most of the countries in Latin America are known for producing rum, El Salvador only had one rum producing company in the country. They saw an opportunity and El Salvador, which translates to “the savior” in reference to Jesus Christ, was their inspiration to create a rum that would showcase and honor the country.

Creating Ron Colón Salvadoreño is a collaborative passion project among friends. Prior to creating the rum, Wise and Janssens had worked together at Our/Vodka, Pernod Ricard’s craft vodka project. They wanted to build a team of like-minded people who they enjoyed working with. This included Felicity Gransden who had also worked with them at Our/Vodka and was the third person to join the team, offering her unique talent in flavor innovations. Chris Rehberger and his

Berlin-based team at Double Standards are responsible for visually bringing the product to life and Tobias Jegenstram joined the team as the social media strategist. The final component of the team is the collaboration with Andres Trigueros and his family at Jags Heads Coffee.

Coffee is El Salvador’s biggest export product. Coffee was first introduced to El Salvador in the 1880s and became the chief export of the country by the 1920s, accounting for 90 percent of all of El Salvador’s exports. Coffee is grown in
high altitudes on the side of the volcanic mountains. The Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range is one of the most renowned regions in El Salvador and home to El Salvador’s first denomination of origin.
This region includes the Santa Ana Volcano where the Trigueros family has been growing coffee for more than 150 years. Tomas Trigueros II, a third-generation coffee producer, has four farms located on the high mountain side of the Santa Ana volcano. Their farms, Loma de Paja, El Ciprés, Caraluna and Oja de Agua sit at altitudes between 1200- and 1830-metres above sea level where the coffee varieties Bourbon (red, orange, pink and dwarf ), Pacamara, Caturra and other hybrids are grown.

Loma de Paja is the family’s oldest farm and where an ancient Mayan rock that is

more than three feet tall and weighs 500 pounds was found. This rock is more than 2300 years old and part of a series of Mayan artifacts found in the region that are known to be called “Cabeza de Jaguar” or “Jaguar Head.” As the Jaguar symbolizes power, it was the name selected by the Trigueros family when they decided to expand beyond growing coffee. In 2016, Jags Head Coffee, a specialty coffee producer, was created in North Carolina with Tomas’ children Tomas III, Andres and Diego. The beans are farmed and harvested in El Salvador by Tomas, who personally approves every bean selected to be shipped tothe roastery in North Carolina. Fourth generation producer Andres Trigueros is the head roaster at Jags Head Coffee. He has been educated in roasting coffee in Portland, Oregon and various Central American countries. Andres worked closely with the rest of the Ron Colón team to develop the coffee for the final infusion.

In addition to coffee production, sugar production is also an important product in El Salvador. Sugar has played an important role throughout history. When the colonists traded with Native Americans, rum was often used as currency. In the 17th century, sugarcane and its associated products were of significant importance, enough that wars would be fought over it.

To source their rum, the Ron Colón team works with Licorera Cihuatán, a distillery that is part of Ingenio La Cabaña of El Salvador, one of the largest and oldest sugar producers in the country since 1920. The local sugarcane is run through a 100- year old sugar cane mill and converted to molasses. The molasses are fermented with proprietary yeasts for 36 hours and then distilled in a modern multi-column still. After distillation, the rum is aged in former bourbon white oak barrels.

Ron Colón produce 4 rums, a high proof dark aged rum and coffee infused rum, a 40% coffee infused rum and a new 50/50 rum, straight rye whisky blend. To create the dark aged rum of Ron Colón, it is a blend of six-year-old column stilled Salvadoran rum from Licorera Cihuatán distillery, aged and unaged pot stilled Jamaican rum from Worthy Park, Hampden and Monymusk distilleries. The Salvadorian rum brings a fruit-forward tropical nose with a light dry finish to the rum. The small amount of Jamaican rum adds an earthiness and a fiery warm honey flavor.

The Ron Colón Salvadoreño Dark Aged Rum is a high proof rum at 111
proof (55.5° alcohol by volume). On the nose it has aromas of tropical fruits such as banana and pineapple, as well as deeper notes of raisins and prunes. On the palate, the rum has a warm, spicy caramel flavor balanced with milk chocolate, dried apricot, and roasted almond notes.

The beautiful synergy between rum and coffee is highlighted in the Ron Colón Coffee Infused Rum. The base of the coffee infused rum is the Ron Colón Salvadoreño Dark Aged Rum. The coffee is made from bourbon coffee beans that are processed using the natural method. This slow process starts with the coffee cherry (the fruit around the bean) drying outside in the sunshine for four weeks. During the drying process, the bean is able to interact with the natural sugars of the cherry, giving the final bean a more fruit-forward flavor. The beans are consistently turned by hand to ensure they dry equally. Once it is dry, the bean is removed from the cherry and sent to Jag’s Head Coffee in North Carolina to be roasted to a medium roast, resulting in a coffee with rich chocolate and cherry notes and little bitterness. The roasted whole beans are then cold macerated in the dark aged rum for 48 hours, allowing time for the coffee beans to release their rich cherry, chocolate and honey flavors. The resulting rum has aromas of almonds, woody spice, rich fruit and warm vanilla and on the palate the coffee infusions brings notes of dark chocolate and dried sticky plum and a rich, warming nutty flavor.

Ron Colón Salvadoreño is a new rum in the market, having launched in January 2020. Both rum expressions are bottled in what looks like a wine bottle with a simple label. Instead of designing a fancy mold design, Ron Colón is bottled in 100 percent recyclable wine bottle glass. The dark bottle with the minimal packaging stands out on the shelves due to its subtle uniqueness. Upon closer look at the label, created by Chris Rehberger, there are small details about El Salvador. And on the top of the bottle is a coin that was inspired by El Salvador’s original currency, the colón.

The El Salvador Colón was the official unit of currency in El Salvador until they adopted the US dollar in 2001. The El Salvador Colón was lost but Ron Colón pays homage to El Salvador’s history by using it in the name as well as designed a coin to put on the bottle. And, the coin can be popped off the bottle and collected.

Ultimately Ron Colón Salvadoreño is about the liquid inside the bottle and packaging is secondary. Ron Colón Salvadoreño Dark Aged Rum and Ron Colón Salvadoreño Coffee Infused Rum are high proof rums with intense flavors that pay homage to El Salvador’s culture. Inspired by the spirit of El Salvador Ron Colón has created a blend of flavors resulting on a new take on rum that is showcased in simple drinks where the fresh citrus flavors of the rum can shine.

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Bernadette Pamplin

Bernadette loves rum. She set up a gin focused blog Under The Ginfluence eight years ago. Since then, her passion has naturally spread from gin, to rum and other spirits too. You can find work from her on Gin Magazine, Distiller Magazine, and Spirits Beacon, as well as content for  The Gin Guide.

She’s also the editor of Rum’s the Word, writing articles on rums featured in the box, as well as other rum related topics. Bernadette has built up six years experience in judging for events like Gin of the Year, World Gin Awards, Spirits Business Awards, Gin Guide Awards, IWSC and the American Distilling Institute Judging of Craft Spirits and works behind the scenes, assisting with organising and participating in panels for the Craft Distilling Expo.