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SB meets… Mercedes Sánchez, Ron de Guatemala

Ron de Guatemala rum’s denomination of origin manager tells us about the importance of protecting Guatemalan rum.

Ron de Guatemala rum
The rum brand’s denomination of origin manager, Mercedes Sánchez

When did Ron de Guatemala gain protected status?

The story began in March 2012, when we were officially granted the official recognition of the protected designation of origin (PDO) Ron de Guatemala by the government of Guatemala. In March 2014, we achieved the PDO recognition from 28 countries in the European Union, becoming the first American rum to have PDO recognised on that continent.

This added value allowed us to protect our members’ Guatemalan rum‐making processes and know‐how, guaranteeing traceability through the production chain, as well as quality and consistency. Since 2014, we have continued registering this recognition in other countries outside of the EU, and it is recognised in more than 32 countries.

Why is it important to protect the origin of Guatemalan rum?

Products that have this type of added value have unique processes. This elevates their status in the category in which they compete.

Ron de Guatemala members were the first producers in the rum industry to make rums using cane juices from the first press, or as we like to call it: miel virgen (literal translation: virgin honey). This is the soul of Guatemalan PDO rums. The juice from the first press still has all the sugars present, hence its level of sweetness is high but completely natural, which is why sugar isn’t added.

The Ron de Guatemala members were also pioneers in creating their own trademark dynamic‐ageing system. This uses casks that previously aged American whiskey, casks that held different types of wines, and 30,000‐litre oak wood vats for blending.

How does the GI status ensure consumers have confidence in Guatemalan rum?

Ron de Guatemala leads constant audits, and controls in each step of the member´s rum‐production process. In the agricultural area, the auditing process must also ensure that all harvested sugarcane comes from the specific PDO‐designated area in Guatemala, that all harvested sugarcanes are those that are officially part of the PDO, and that it is the first press of the milled sugarcane juices that are used for Ron de Guatemala rums.

Does more need to be done to protect Guatemalan rum internationally?

The most important thing for us is to promote Ron de Guatemala’s PDO as the differentiated added value our rums provide consumers around the world from a Guatemalan rum standpoint. Telling our story, inviting them to live and taste it with us through our rums is a tribute to the passion and dedication to every Guatemalan behind Ron de Guatemala´s PDO.

What are you working on now?

In 2022, Ron de Guatemala joined forces with Chartier Labs, a pioneer in decoding molecular harmonies in the gastronomic world. Ron de Guatemala commissioned it to carry out a scientific analysis of all rums that are part of the PDO Ron de Guatemala, where we sought to determine the aromatic science of our rum´s molecular harmonies.

It presents to the world those ingredients that pair perfectly with each of the rums that are part of Ron de Guatemala´s PDO, making this analysis an innovative tool that will now allow our members to create unique experiences for their rums in haute cuisine and mixology.

What do you have planned in the coming year?

Ron de Guatemala´s PDO plans to promote itself in international beverage trade fairs, social media and printed press media. Our goal is to obtain recognition in at least two additional countries per year, so that by the end of 2027, we can be recognised in 40 countries.

SB previously spoke to the corporate marketing director for Guatemalan Spirits on how the company diversified beyond rum.

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