8 years in American Oak ex-Bourbon barrels, solera
Alcohol by volume:
Cihuatán released the first aged rums in 2014. Its debut product was called Solera 8 and a few years later was renamed Indigo (2020). The change was marketing driven since the successor is technologically no different from the original.
Although the sugar sector in El Salvador has been growing for a century, it was not until 2004 that the inaugural and commercially intended rum distillation took place and up front with the ambition: "to make Cihuatán the ambassador of El Salvador; to have the world discover my country through Cihuatán Rum.” The decisiveness of Juan Alfredo Pacas - the Licorera Cihuatán's co-owner - is truly undeniable.
We know the idea, let's take a look at the implementation. The master blender position was taken over by Gabriela Ayala. She has a chemical engineering degree and experience in the sugar industry, but at that time she was a newbie in the spirits sector. I really value the enthusiasm and commitment over certificates and diplomas - trust me on that - but even for me it seems somehow fanciful. I can only imagine that the Cubans - for example - rub their eyes with astonishment since the quickest of them devoted fifteen years of intensive study and practise for the maestro ronero distinction.
All right, let's move on. Licorera Cihuatán sources raw material from seven hundred independent domestic suppliers. El Salvador has favourable climatic conditions for the cultivation of sugarcane and unfortunately poor working conditions. If the reader has decided to dive into the rabbit hole of the above links, I rectify that I'm not blaming the manufacturer for how our world is arranged. I emphasise "our world" since our passion for rum means someone's tears, just like that.
Let's focus on the positives. I appreciate their enthusiasm. The founding myth emanates passion and a sincere desire to create a premium brand from scratch. The lack of tradition in the spirits industry has been forged into a hunger for success. It was also quickly realised that a convincing image creation would be necessary. The task was entrusted to the French agency Appartement 103, which comprehensively developed the brand image (2020). The Mayan civilization folklore in a bold avant-garde interpretation results in a visual masterpiece. Design hypnotises and hence sincere words of appreciation.
All production processes take place in El Salvador. The saccharomyce cereviceae yeast starts the 36-hour controlled fermentation. Then 8% wine passes through the multi-column still resulting in 75% and 94.9% abv distillate.
Digression. Apparently, the rum made at 75% is exclusively for Cihuatán and not sold to anyone else. Meanwhile, rum from El Salvador can be found in other releases, such as Bellamy's, Cane Island, or Ron Colón's Salvadoreño. This would mean that the aforementioned producers have at their disposal component only at 94.9% abv.
Back to Cihuatán Indigo. Let us note that the rebranding and in particular the product naming diverts attention from the aging method. After all, it is known which connotations arise around solera. However, my hat's off to the awareness of not calling it by name but as “pyramidal arrangement of the barrels”.
The rums mature in both medium-burned bourbon barrels and new american white oak casks. The label indicates eight years of ageing, although it is unclear what is meant - whether the average period or perhaps the age of the oldest component. The producer adds brown sugar to the batches. Finally, the sugar level is at 17 g/L.