Review: Berry Bros. & Rudd Classic Range – Guatemala Rum

“Berry Bros. & Rudd is Britain’s oldest wine and spirit merchant, having traded from the same shop since 1698.” – taken from their website. BBR also act as independent bottlers, having various spirits, including rum, bottled under their own label. They are boasting a selection of both limited and continuous releases with the Classic Range being part of the latter. The BBR Classic Range is a fairly diverse selection of rums coming from 4 different countries (so far): Barbados, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Guatemala.

Today I’m having a look at the Guatemala one – if you’re not sure where you heard about Guatemalan rum before, you’ve probably seen Ron Zacapa, the reason of many fiery debates on various rum forums due to their habit of adulterating their products. Berry Bros. & Rudd cannot reveal the distilleries behind the rums in their Classic Range and putting “Guatemala rum distilleries” through Google doesn’t return much besides Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala which is the largest one in the country – it’s where the well-known brands Zacapa and Botran are produced.

I did however find the main specifications for the “Ron de Guatemala” GI (Geographical Indication) which can give me some vague details regarding the production processes that went into making the BBR Guatemala.

Interesting side fact: the bottling strength of Guatemalan rums can range from 37.5% to only 50% ABV.

The raw material from which Guatemalan rum is made is called “virgin sugar cane honey” which is basically sugar cane juice that has been concentrated by evaporating the water in it. They use Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker’s yeast) cultivated from pineapples for the fermentation process. The sugar cane wine is then distilled through multi-column stills and the resulting distillate is watered down to 60% ABV before put in oak casks to age. I don’t know the age of the juice in my bottle, nor the type of casks used, so feel free to get in touch with me if you have more information. Bottled at 40.5% ABV free of additives as per the usual Berry Bros. & Rudd practices and confirmed by thefatrumpirate in his review.

On the nose feels pretty tropical. Pineapple, mango, orange zest and ripe bananas. Pencil shavings, ripe pears, red apples, floral honey and tobacco. It has more layers than I was expecting. Some candied strawberries, a hint of cola and charred oak. Cinnamon and white pepper.

On the palate is quite soft. Agave syrup, mango, vanilla, strawberry yogurt, cola and passion fruit. Sweet and light upfront then it develops some smokey and spicy notes from mid palate towards the end. Tobacco, cinnamon, marmalade, charred oak and black pepper. The finish is medium with pear juice, orange zest and spicy pepper.

Don’t think I ever tried unadulterated rum from Guatemala and it’s a pleasant surprise. It showcases more complexity than I was expecting and it’s easy to drink with layers of tropical fruit and spice – not bad, but it could’ve also been better. Can be found on Master of Malt for £30 or on Amazon for £28, but sometimes it’s on offer for around £22-23. I find paying £30 for this a bit much, but if you fancy a dry ron then this is for you.

Berry Bros. & Rudd Classic Range – Guatemala Rum score:
Flavour/taste: 44/70
Value for money: 13/15
Transparency/purity: 12/15
Overall: 69/100


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