molasses, sugar cane honey
column continuous stills, copper pot stills with two retort chambers, batch kettle
between 2 and 8 years in ex-bourbon oak barrels
Alcohol by volume:
Vespucci associated stilt houses (palafitos) seen around Maracaibo lake with his native Venice; therefore he named the land Veneziola (1499). And what conclusions might the indigenous have got at the sight of exotic sailors?
The account of Bartolomé de las Casas, the first ordained priest in the New World, who participated in the execution (1512) of Hatuey's cacique (a native Indian chief) may be helpful here. The bound Arawak was urged to be baptized. The conversion to Christianity could then save his soul from the eternal torment of hellfire (since the torment of burning alive was not negotiable). The condemned chief only asked if Christians really go after their death to heaven, and then concluded that he doesn't want to be there with such cruel people. The pile was set on fire.
This was a turning point in the life of Bartolomé de las Casas. The priest turned into an advocate of the Indian cause postulating evangelization with kindness and humility instead of coercion and violence. The righteous, a true convert, just a single man. The institutional church preoccupied in spreading Christianity seemed to overlook the mass extermination of the indigenous (their population shrunk by 7/8 in half a century). Meanwhile, the Cacique brand - with its 500 - commemorates the round anniversary of the 'discovery' of the New World, while the logo cacique looks away.
DUSA embodies Venezuelan success; initiated in 1959 as a cooperation of local producers with the former giant Seagram's, underwent a few transformations to finally retain its autonomy within the modern giant's structure Diageo. The Cacique brand was launched in 1961 and in a few years gained the leading position on the domestic market. The achievement may be surprising as the popular Diplomatico rum is derived from the same distillery (offering a range of other alcoholic beverages too). The production process at DUSA is managed by Tito Cordero, which may be less surprising.
The recipe of Cacique 500 is a blend shrouded in mystery. What we can do however is to look at the methods used by the parent distillery. DUSA creates rum based on molasses and sugar cane honey. The 24-hour and accordingly 48-hour fermentations are initiated using yeast grown back to Seagram's times. The wine first passes through the columns and then goes to double retort stills (heavier rums), to a batch kettle (semi-heavy rums) or to two computer-controlled continuous distillation columns (for light rums).
The rum is aged at Hacienda Saruro, surrounded by 1,200 hectares of sugar cane plantation. Venezuelan regulations (DOC Ron de Venezuela) set the minimum aging period of two years and the oldest component of Cacique 500 matures eight; the rest of the components must be then in the above range. DUSA uses ex-bourbon barrels and low-mineralized water (<200 ppm) from the intakes of the Terepaima Park. Tests show trace amounts of added sugar (0-5 g/L).