Features » Twitters from Spain
THE WORLD CRADLE OF RUM
Barrie Mahoney / 2012-08-15 15:01:58
Visitors to the Canary Islands may remember that at the end of a good meal in a local restaurant, and before the bill arrives, they are presented with a ‘shot’ - a small glass of liqueur to round off a good meal. This ‘shot’ is presented as a ‘on the house’ gesture of gratitude from the restaurant for visiting, with the hope that you will visit again, as well as remembering to leave a tip before you leave.
This ‘shot’ is often a local Canarian Honey Rum, known as Ron Miel, which is made from a centuries old tradition of blending aged rum and honey. It is a sweet drink, but not as sweet as you might at first think, and certainly not as sickly to the taste as some liqueurs. It also includes a remarkable ‘kick’ if you drink too many, and it may also be wise not to accept your ‘shot’ if you are the driver!
It is often forgotten that when you speak about rum, you are talking about the Canary Islands; the two are intertwined. Many rum connoisseurs describe the Canary Islands as the ‘World Cradle of Rum’, where this beautiful spirit is made by combining a centuries old tradition with the superb quality of locally produced raw materials. White rum, banana rum, toffee rum, chocolate cream, coco-pineapple and coffee rum are just some of the many varieties available although, personally, I am rather fond of the banana variety!
So how is Honey Rum made? Seven-year-old rum is blended with natural honey from the Canary Islands, which create a natural combination of flavour. It may be enjoyed it on its own, or you can ruin it by mixing it into a range of mixed drinks and cocktails. Although mixing may not be for the rum connoisseur, it is fair to say that Honey Rum does an excellent job as a natural substitute for man-made sugars and liqueurs.
One company that produces honey rum is Distillery Arehucus, which has recently proudly announced that it is shipping and selling its traditional ‘Ron Miel de Canarias’ to the USA. Distillery Arehucas is a fourth generation family owned business, which produces a range of world class rums and is the official supplier to the Spanish Royal family, so it can’t be bad! Traditional methods of production and quality are still used at the distillery, a local family business, which began rum production 125 years ago, and currently produces around 1.5 million litres each year.
It is a fair bet that if you have already tried honey rum, or one of its sister flavours, it may well have been one produced by Distillery Arehucas, since they have around 50 per cent of the market share in honey rum on the islands and Europe.
The new export to the USA, as well as designed to tickle the American palette, also has an interesting history, with established links to the sugar cane industry, rum production and the USA. All four voyages of Christopher Columbus, or Cristobal Colon as they like to call him over here, departed from the Canary Islands to the New World, and the first sugar canes planted in America left from the Canary islands bound for the West Indies in the second voyage of Christopher Columbus, in 1493. Very appropriately, the current stock of sugar cane currently growing in the West Indies is originally from the Canary Islands.
Personally, I am not a great lover of cocktails, and to use Ron Miel as a mixer in any drink would be, in my view, dangerously close to sacrilege. My personal favourite is the banana variety, and I am sure that you will have great enjoyment trying out the range of Ron Miel! Besides, it may also be regarded as almost medicinal, as it is great for soothing sore throats, so do keep a bottle in your medicine cabinet, just in case!
© Barrie Mahoney