Montero Gran Reserva

Montero Gran Reserva

Product of:  Spain
Aged: 3 1/2 - 4 years 
Price:  €13.75 - €17.00 in Spain
 Alcohol: 40% ABV
Context:  Premium Aged Rum 
RG Rating:  8.5

Tasting Notes 
Very Smooth.  Montero Gran Reserva shows a light golden brown color similar to maple sugar.  With aromas in complexity greater than the color would lead you to suspect, light alcohols help transmit the dense, earthy, sweet smells of fresh cut cane, and butterscotch, then oak and vanilla notes are followed by herbal notes and the subtle floral aroma of honeysuckle, with spruce and rosemary adding complexity and balance.  Fruity aromas disappear with the initial taste, replaced at once by a drier maple-vanilla wood taste, and an earthy sensation like wild clover honey. An unobtrusive, medium body quickly gives way to a dry and delicate finish, exhibiting hints of white pepper and oak, ultimately succeeded by earthy sensation like wild clover honey.

Anecdotes 
Three production and aging techniques add to Ron Montero’s unique qualities:

1. Aging in new oak barrels differentiates Montero from most other rum distillers who typically obtain used oak barrels from the American whiskey distillers. Montero claims they obtain a smoother product this way, and their rums indeed exhibit smooth textures beyond their relatively young age.

2. Vacuumed distillation: conducted at lower temperatures, enabling separation of the desired components from the non-desired.

3. Filtration further eliminates non-desired compounds, without losing the Aguardiente's main desirable characteristics.

Ron Montero is a 46 year old family rum distillery in the southern coast of Granada, Spain. The area has a long history of sugar cane plantations spanning more than 1.000 years. The plant was brought by the Arabs through northern Africa, and is thought to have originated either from India or China. Indeed, history tells us that Christopher Columbus transported the sugar cane plant from southern Spain to the West Indies during his second voyage to the New World. The Martin family owned the first and last sugar cane factory in Europe, which closed in April 2006 after 145 years, and has thus been in contact with sugar cane and its associated products, for several generations. Azucarera del Guadalfeo was founded in 1861 and closed in 2006; the last sugar cane factory in Europe. Ron Montero uses the distilled alcohol from these distilleries to manufacture its two rums: Ron Palido Montero and Ron Palido Gran Reseva.  Current rum production amounts to of 240,000 litres annually, mainly distributed to the surrounding areas.

The Montero family owns, as a separate company, two  distilleries called Azucarera del Guadalfeo.  The smallest of these distilleries uses the traditional method of continuous distillation whilst the other distills using a vacuum method. This allows the distillation to occur at lower temperatures, maintaining many of the alcohol's natural properties. Together, these distilleries are Spain’s largest producer of rum based on sugar cane molasses. 

The aguardiente always comes from the vacuum distillery. The 'Destilado de caña', by law in Spain must be under 96.5% alc/vol.  Both alcohols are filtered separately, and then go on to age in 500L American oak barrels. Almost unique in the rum industry, Montero buys new unused barrels, and gives them a special, traditional treatment before the fermented sugar “wines” are introduced. Montero employs the 'Criadera y Solera' ageing method commonly used by Sherry producers from Jerez de la Frontera. Briefly, Montero empties half of a barrel's content into the barrel below, mixing the content of the different barrels and their different ageing periods. For the Ron Pálido, Montero uses one 'solera' and one 'criadera' (two layers).

Opinion  
Montero Gran Reserva is loaded with delicate, complex flavors that reward a practiced and patient palate.  Though aged in American oak barrels, Montero Gran Reserva delivers a Spanish subtlety, complex but not of the in-your-face style that so many of today’s big bold rums bombard us with.  I look forward to tasting more rum at the Montero Distillery during my motorcycle tour of Spain in early 2010. 

A Deep History - Montero’s has previously been distributed almost exclusively for local consumption, and their export intentions are unclear, so their rum’s may be difficult to find outside of Spain.  The rustic Old World pride built into Montero’s Gran Reserva is obvious from the first glassful. Montero has a musty element that differentiates it from both sweet and dry Caribbean rums. It’s all craftsmanship.

Reviewed:  June 2009 at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017