SB meets… Alexandra Alfaro, Guatemalan Spirits
Innovation is at the core of Guatemalan Spirits’ strategy, and this year is no exception for its aged rum portfolio. We chatted to Alexandra Alfaro, global marketing director, about what is in store for the brand this year.
Guatemalan Spirits is soon to launch a series of new expressions – what is being added to the portfolio?
Botran, our most renowned aged rum brand, will be launching four new expressions in the upcoming months. These expressions have been ‘in the making’ for quite some time now, as we seek to cater to current Botran consumers and, of course, appeal to new ones across the globe.
The four expressions are: Botran Roaju, a tribute to the land of our founders and the journey they made from Burgos, Spain to Xelaju in Guatemala, where Casa Botran was established more than 80 years ago; Botran Cristalino, our smoothest aged white rum expression yet, seeking to appeal to those that appreciate purity and smoothness in every sip –a super premium white sipping rum; Botran Rare Blend Collection Ex Agave Cask – quite a unique blend with very characteristic notes – its final ageing process is held in casks that previously held agave spirits; and Botran No-Alc. As the non-alcoholic category grows across the globe, we found it an interesting opportunity for us bring the Botran flavour to consumers choosing non-alcoholic ‘spirits’.
Our innovations don’t stop there. We are also launching the second variant of Miraciel’s Patrimonio Collection: Miracielo Cafetalero. On this occasion, we have paired up with Finca San Sebastian, one of the most renowned coffee estates in Antigua Guatemala, to launch our first coffee-infused rum: Cafetalero.
How were the casks chosen for the maturation of these new expressions – were you looking to achieve specific flavour profiles?
Our master blenders are the true magic makers and of course, the masters minds behind the cask selection and maturation process. They had clear flavour profiles in mind for each expression, as to deliver against each of the brand promises. They carefully sought out each type of cask, across several geographies, as to ensure each blend was perfect and delivered a unique flavour experience to every palate.
Why have you chosen to launch these now, and what marketing efforts do you have planned around the launches?
As with any aged rum, innovations must be planned for with years in advance.
Botran Ex Agave is part of a collection that was first launched for Botran four years ago. Ever since we mapped out the Rare Blends Collection journey, we knew that Ex Agave would be launched in 2023, as the last expression of our very successful Rare Blends.
Botran Roajú is being launched this year as we commemorate 100 years since the arrival of the first Botran brother (Venancio Botran) to Guatemala. Its name is actually a combination of Roa in Burgos, Spain, with Xelajú in Guatemala.
Botran Cristalino has been ageing for quite a few years already, ever since we identified an opportunity for a super-premium white sipping rum. We always had the intention to present it this year at Bar Convent Berlin 2023.
And finally, Botran No-Alc is an opportunity we recently decided to capitalise upon. So we are moving forward with this launch this year, given the demand we are seeing for non-alcoholic ‘spirits’ in some of our markets.
Miracielo Cafetalero, as it is part of a collection as well, was timed at the same launch date as its first variant last year. All initiatives will be presented in Europe and the US market as of September of this year, at several of the most important trade shows of the region. Of course, all accompanied by brand campaigns mainly in print and digital media, and launch events in Guatemala and selected European markets. Our master blenders will be, of course, at the forefront of these launches.
One of the five new expressions is a non-alcoholic ‘rum’ – how has this been created, and why have you chosen to create a non-alcoholic bottling?
Botran has a very characteristic flavour profile; it is a rum with robust caramel and fruity notes, without being an extremely sweet rum. Hence, we sought out to replicate this flavour profile in our non-alcoholic version.
We infused the liquid base on casks that previously aged Botran in order for it to adopt our rum’s characteristics. Last year, we paired up with Chartier Labs in order to unpack Botran rum’s molecular DNA. This DNA study proved quite valuable in the creation of Botran No-Alc, as it gave us a very clear idea of which notes we had to emulate on our non-alcoholic Botran. This resulted in notes of vanilla, spices, pineapple and dried fruit.
The combination of the base liquid with these added flavour notes results then in our non-alcoholic Botran rum. We chose to move forward with this innovation as we are seeing demand for non-alcoholic spirits in many of our markets.
What techniques and flavours have been used in the production of the Botran Roaju variant to honour the Botran brothers’ journey? What can consumers expect from this bottling?
Botran Roaju follows our brand’s trademark dynamic ageing system. In the case of Roaju, the blend passes through an additional cask for its final ageing stage.
The casks for this final stage were selected and sourced by our master blenders from Burgos, Spain, where the Botran brothers were originally from, before they migrated to Guatemala.
Roaju is a blend of rums between eight- and 20-years-old. The resulting flavour is a rum with a deep and predominant fruity note, mainly prunes and blackberries.
Our consumers can expect a quite distinct flavour profile from Roaju, one that is not usually characteristic of Botran, very much appealing to the palate. Expect also notes of toffee, wood, and toasted coffee.
How has coffee from Antigua and Guatemala been infused into the Miracielo Cafetalero expression, and what characteristics has this given the rum?
Miracielo Cafetaler’s elaboration process is inherently respectful of a controlled coffee infusion process. The coffee we chose for Cafetalero is from Finca San Sebastian, an award-winning coffee estate from Antigua Guatemala.
The chosen coffee variant is bourbon, a coarse ground coffee with a medium toast level. This variant allowed us to obtain the characteristic notes of a bourbon coffee: chocolate, toffee, and honey. Balanced with Miracielo’s characteristic sweet notes of wood, prunes, raisins and vanilla, it is a rum you definitely won’t want to miss.
Why coffee? Guatemalan rum and Antigua Guatemala coffee are the only two products with an internationally recognised appellation of origin. Both Miracielo rum and Finca San Sebastian’s coffee estate have their origins in Antigua Guatemala, so it was quite a natural collaboration for both products.
Botran No-Alc will be available in the US Market, Europe and duty free markets at a RRP of US$20.
Botran Roaju will be available in Guatemala, the US Market and Europe at a RRP of US$75.
Botran Rare Blends Ex Agave Cask will be available in Europe, the US Market and Mexico at a RRP of US$100.
Botran Cristalino will be available in Europe, Mexico and duty free market at a RRP of US$50.
Miracielo Cafetalero will be available in Guatemala, Central America, Europe and duty free markets at a RRP of US$40.
Guatemalan Spirits was certified as carbon neutral in June 2021.
In November, master distiller Quantana shone a light on the company’s rich rum history, alongside its Miracielo brand, in a video created by The Spirits Business.