Extremely Smooth. Arehucas Ron Miel’s pours brown and thickly, a viscous mix of aged rum and honey that leaves syrupy legs on the sides of your tasting glass. Quite unexpectedly, the most pronounced aroma emanating from Ron Miel is candied orange, not honey, perhaps due to the predominance of Orange blossoms as the source of the honey. The low percentage ABV and high sweetness index combine to partially mask more subtle aromas, but you also able detect nice bits of fig, clove, leather, cola, some oaken vanilla and lemon zest. On initial taste, the sweetness of the aromas yields slightly to more complex flavors. The low ABV removes any possibility of a sting, with a mild cocoa, cola and oakwood bark flavors enhancing the rum’s dessert-like nature. An almost heavyweight body successfully avoids the cloying texture so often found with sugar-sweetened spirits, making for a long lasting finish that is sweet on the lips and extremely smooth in the throat.
Ron Miel was given a 'Denominación Geográfica' by the Canary government in 2005. With the Geographical Designation come rules governing correct production procedures protect the quality, flavor and the artisan qualities of the rum. Arehucas’ version of honey rum contains 30 grams of honey per liter. The Geographic Designation of Origin "Ron Miel de Canarias" requires at least 2% honey by volume.
The Canary Islands’ tradition of adding honey to rum started in the homes of the Canary people by shaking aged rum and honey with water until the mix is homogenous. Popular belief has it that the traditional drink started with medicinal purposes in mind, due to the historic use of both products as cures. The exact date of origin is unclear, but references pointing back as far as the 18th century have been found. Today, Ron Miel is traditionally served solo as an after dinner drink. (Photo of bee hive courtesy of Los Gatos Honey.)
Arehucas is justifiably proud of their heritage. The story of Ron Arehucas’s distillery begins with the founding of a sugar mill called Fábrica Azúcar de San Pedro in summer 1884 (see photo at right). By the following spring their first crop of sugarcane was harvested. On July 4th, 1892, “due to the fame and quality of its products”, the factory was awarded by Queen Maria Cristina of Austria the title “Supplier of the Royal House.” That’s some noble honor, being named the official supplier of rum to Spain’s royalty! By the early 20th Century, the Fabrica was renamed Destilería San Pedro, and in the first decade of the 20th Century, a more modern column still from Egrot and Grange of Paris was installed. However, sugar production ceased in the 1920‘s and the sugar mill equipment sold. The distillery was acquired by Alfredo Martín Reyes in 1940, and production of rum began under the Fábrica de Ron de Arehucas. The most recent rename came in 1965 as Destilerías Arehucas SA. Today, Arehucas has the largest rum cellar in all of Europe, with over 6,000 American oak barrels.
Ron Miel is distilled from fermented sugarcane juice, then aged seven years at 60% ABV, in new American Red Oak barrels, not previously used. Until recently, the honey in Ron Miel came from the Canary Islands. Due to the high volume required for production, it is now sourced in bulk from a Spanish mainland supplier. The type of honey is called "miel de mil flores", or honey of a thousand flowers (wildflower honey), although I suspect those busy bees have found a treasure trove of orange blossoms.
About the word "Guanche" on the label: The Guanches were the aboriginal people of the Canaries.
Arehucas doesn’t need to use a fine seven-year-aged rum to create their excellent Ron Miel, but I’m glad they do. It’s a rum not a liqueur, and Ron Miel is more enjoyable to sip, without the latter’s overwhelming sweetness. I completely understand why Canary Islanders created this traditional rum - I find myself going back for Ron Miel again and again. Simply put, Ron Miel is just easy to drink and enjoy, delivering approachable flavors and sufficient complexity to enjoy in a variety of ways.
Christopher Columbus introduced sugarcane to Hispaniola and Brazil sourced from the Canary Islands during his second voyage to the New World in 1493. I think I’ll have a toast to that stroke of great fortune with Arehucas. Sip it neat, or on ice ice with an orange twist for garnish to bring out a dark chocolate flavor. One of the easiest drink to make is as simple as Ron Miel over ice with equal little squeezes of lemon and lime. Or use Ron Miel in mixed drinks as a mild sweetener to add some aged rum flavor and color. Or … oh, you get the idea.
Reviewed: August 2012 at The Rum Gallery, USA.