Eat local — Dominican Flavors: Ron Barceló, SantoDomingo, Dominican Republic

Welcome to Ron Barceló Historic Center and factory, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Welcome to Ron Barceló Historic Center and factory, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

The rum industry is an important force in the economy of the Dominican Republic.  We had the opportunity to visit the Ron Barceló Historic Center and factory in Santo Domingo as the first part of a trip around the area to sample “Dominican Flavors”.

Portrait of the founder of  Ron Barceló, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Portrait of the founder of Ron Barceló, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Ron Barceló was born in 1929 with the vision of Julian Barceló, a young Spanish entrepreneur, who founded Barceló & Co. in the city of Santo Domingo in 1930. The brand quickly became a reference among local rums and one of the largest and most prestigious Dominican enterprises. The company in 1992 undertook internationalization with very good results; Ron Barceló started exporting its products to Spain in 1994, being now among the market leaders in selling rums in Spain, followed by market entry into leading worldwide markets.

One of several factory buildings at the Ron Barceló factory, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

One of several factory buildings at the Ron Barceló factory, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Ron Barceló Imperial [a rum aged for 10 years in American oak barrels] was awarded the prize by the prestigious Beverage Testing Institute of Chicago as the best rum in the world, carrying the badge of being the first rum to get the highest score in the history of this institute: 97/100.

Demonstration garden sample planting of sugar cane at the Ron Barceló factory, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Demonstration garden sample planting of sugar cane at the Ron Barceló factory, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Rum is distilled from the juice of sugar cane plants.  The company owns extensive sugar cane plantations and rotates the plantings monthly, with harvesting about one year later.  The cut sugar cane is brought to the factory whole (10 feet tall and longer) and then is cut into small pieces that will facilitate entry into mills.  In the mills, large pressing machines compress the cut pieces of cane, until obtaining 100% of the juice from them.  The juice is then fermented, converting the sugar to alcohol (~ 7-8% by volume) and carbon dioxide.  The “mash” is then distilled to obtain a rich and balanced ethyl alcohol at 96% alcohol per volume.

American oak aging barrels full of rum at the Ron Barceló factory, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

American oak aging barrels full of rum at the Ron Barceló factory, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

The distilled alcohol is then aged a minimum of one year in once used American oak barrels in giant warehouses (pictured above).  Many of the barrels have been purchased from the Jim Beam (bourbon) company;  the bourbon does not leave much more than a trace of flavor in the barrels.  After being used at Ron Barcelo, barrels are refurbished, including the charring of the insides (see photograph below).

Charring an American oak aging barrel in the refurbishment process at the Ron Barceló factory, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Charring an American oak aging barrel in the refurbishment process at the Ron Barceló factory, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

The rums produced at Ron Barceló range in age from one year old to 10 years old (Imperial), with a special 30th anniversary rum being aged an additional two years in used French oak barrels.

Rum bottling line at the Ron Barceló factory, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Rum bottling line at the Ron Barceló factory, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

After our tour of the factory, we had the opportunity to visit the museum where we learned about the complete manufacturing process (including the recycling of the byproducts in the process — crushed cane, carbon dioxide, etc.).  At the end, we were give the opportunity to taste some straight aged rums and a rum cocktail made with orange juice, lime, and spices — delicious!

Run cocktail tasting time after a tour at the Ron Barceló factory, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Run cocktail tasting time after a tour at the Ron Barceló factory, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

 

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