Looking for a decent bottle of Rum to give your cuppa a little extra kick is really inconvenient. Especially if you’ve just bundled yourself up under a pile of blankets. With the dog. Because it’s really (really) cold outside. Luckily, Ron Colón heard that calling. (Well, in a purely metaphorical way.)
Co-owner Felicity Gransden worked to fuse some of El Salvador’s finest ingredients into a coffee-infused Rum that’s killing the game. We talked to Felicity about Ron Colón’s origin story, how El Salvador’s volcanic terroir factors into the Rum and some of the best ways to turn coffee-infused Rum into your next favorite cocktail.
Can you talk to us about your role at Ron Colón?
Now, at Ron Colón, I am responsible for liquid development and managing our growing brand ambassador team. We now have nine brand ambassadors based in Europe, Asia and the U.S.
1. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
I’d love to be able to fly, so I could go above the clouds where the sun is always shining.
2. How would you describe Ron Colón in three words?
Bold. Authentic. Rockstar.
3. What is your favorite music and what drink goes with it?
I love soulful music. The best drink I can think of to pair with it would be a classic Manhattan.
4. What would you eat and drink for your last supper?
I always have the same answer to this question — my Mum’s homemade lasagne paired with a rich, dark, oaky red wine.
5. Assuming Ron Colón is your favorite, what's your second favorite Rum?
I’m a huge fan of the Clairin Rums from Haiti.
Tell us more about Ron Colón — why was the brand created? How did it evolve?
Ron Colón was inspired after visiting El Salvador. It’s the smallest country in Central America and is home to fine sugarcane and high-altitude specialty coffee. That first trip sparked an idea to create a new style of Rum that combined these two raw ingredients.
Where is Ron Colón made? Where does blending happen?
How many Rums go into Ron Colón? Where do they come from and how did you choose them?
What percentage of your Rum is from El Salvador?
We also have Jamaican pot-distilled Rums that are just there to bring in these prolonged characteristics in the background that build complexity.
For us, this was important because, obviously, Cihuatán makes all of their own Rums. We needed to do something to make it ours and to make our own unique blend.
That’s a perfect segue into our next question about terroir. Do you think it influences your Rum production and if so, how?Felicity: El Salvador is quite interesting because they have all of these volcanoes surrounding every part of the country. That means that the soil involved in El Salvador regenerates really quickly.
Ron Colon is all about innovation and authenticity and has successfully married two of El Salvador’s local flavors together.
This is especially important because when you have things like coffee trees and plants, they pull out all of the nutrients very quickly. So having a volcanic-type of soil and growing sugarcane there will ensure that they get as many nutrients as they need very quickly.
That means you're able to grow them quicker and at a higher quality than you would elsewhere, which produces a better flavor.
Can you give a brief overview on Ron Colón’s two expressions?
The Dark Aged Rum is characterized by its bright, fresh fruit aroma. The ambition was to create a smooth, full-bodied Rum, with plenty of tropical fruit flavors at a high proof. The Rum is made from a blend of column and pot-distilled varieties from different origins. The main body of the liquid is sourced from Licorera Cihuatán distillery in El Salvador. It is distilled in a modern multi-column system and is light and dry with plenty of fresh, green notes. To bring complexity and new characteristics to the Rum, we add a high ester pot-distilled Rum.
The Ron Colón Salvadoreño Cold Coffee Infused expression offers a Rum experience that is totally different from the Dark Aged Rum. Our aim with this expression was to authentically showcase all the flavors of the Salvadoran coffee beans. The coffee infused Ron Colón Salvadoreño is made with Jags Head Coffee’s single estate bourbon coffee beans from the El Ciprés region on the Western side of El Salvador.
The coffee trees are grown at 1,700 meters above sea level on the side of El Salvador’s famous Santa Ana volcano. The beans are dried using the natural process and are consistently turned by hand to ensure they dry equally over a period of four weeks. This slow process allows for the bean to interact with the natural sugars from the cherry — the fruit around the bean — over a long period of time, giving the final bean a more fruit-forward flavor.
Our goal was to bring together the best of Salvadoran coffee and Rum. Ron Colon is all about innovation and authenticity and has successfully married two of El Salvador’s local flavors together.
Can you tell us where the idea of infusing coffee in Rum came from and what makes it so special?
I have always been passionate about the science of flavor and aroma.
Although the pairing of coffee and Rum isn’t new, the combination typically features in sweet liqueurs. Our idea was to create something quite different - a subtle, dry, fruit forward coffee flavour, perfectly balanced with the natural sweetness in the Rum.
Can you tell us how the partnership between Ron Colon and Jags Head came to be?
Some might say that El Salvador is more known for coffee than Rum. Does Ron Colón hope to change this by also giving El Salvador’s sugarcane industry some of the limelight?
In the past, the sugarcane grown in El Salvador was used mostly for sugar production and Rums were imported.
We use Cihuatán’s six-year-old Rum as the base for Ron Colón. The sugarcane used to make the Rum is grown and processed by Ingenio La Cabaña, where they have been growing and producing sugar for 100 years. It is great to see the molasses from sugarcane production being used to make Rum and in turn, having Rums from this region become more well known.
How can people enjoy Ron Colón? Neat? In cocktails? If so, which cocktails?
For the coffee-infused Rum, I would recommend a light, fresh highball, plus a richer stirred drink. That way you can enjoy the flavor at both ends of the spectrum. A Coffee Tonic works perfectly as an aperitif, for a richer experience, I would recommend a Coffee Negroni.
For the dark aged Rum, I would recommend a Yuzu Highball — very light, fresh and citrusy. Or one of my favourite creations made by our UK Brand Ambassador Steph DiCamillo, the Banana Old Fashioned made with a banana oleo syrup.
This Rum is Bananas
- 1 dash toasted almond bitters
What can we expect next from Ron Colón?
We have created a new recipe to make it a richer coffee experience; the flavor notes are more focused around dark chocolate, cherries and plums when compared with the 111 proof. I’m very proud of this new Rum — we’ve had excellent feedback so far. It offers a new way to experience the flavors in coffee and Rum and provides a lighter option for our portfolio.