A Trip to Guatemala for Zacapa Rum
Booze Writer Switcheroo in San Francisco

Guatemala Miscellany

My post on how rum is aged at Zacapa will have to wait another day- I thought I fully understood it but an item on a slide tripped me up. Time for a fact-check!

In the meantime, here are some other items of interest:

- There is now an Alcademics channel on YouTube

- I am new to taking video, so most of them are shaky and boring. You have been warned. 

Highlights:

A demonstration of sugar cane being cut by hand. Note that this is cleaned up and un-burned sugar cane, but the process is otherwise the same. The machetes they use have a sideways blade to allow more of the root of the plant to be cut.

View from the helicopter going to aging facility. You can see cloud-covered mountains, farmland, and other dramatic scenery. Guatemala has rich and fertile mountainous terrain, great for growing coffee and by the ocean, sugarcane for rum. Fun fact: Guatemala is also a major export market for mini vegetables that get sent to Japan. If you're ever in Guatemala I recommend a helicopter tour unless, like me, you find it absolutely terrifying. 

This is the village soccer field where we landed the helicopters. Everybody came out to check us out. 

 At the aging facility they re-char ex-bourbon barrels that are used in part of the rum aging process. This is the machine that does it. Fire!

The straw bands around bottles of Zacapa? They're woven by hand and each one takes 20 minutes to make. Here is a demonstration they did for us. You can (sorta) hear the English translator talking as well as the weavers. 

After the rum tour, we did some fun stuff in Guatemala including hiking up a volcano and playing with lava (fast-forward to :40)!

Comments

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Colleen

I hate those "crap, what was that thing moments" - looking forward to your post fact check story.

Why didn't you start this YouTube thing when we were in St. Croix, that pig spraying beer all over you would have made great video! It's still in my head at least...classic.

Camper English

I think a video may exist of me being sprayed with beer by the pig. I will check, because that was awesome.

DJ HawaiianShirt

Good lord! Now I don't feel so bad about feeling helpless toward re-charring my little barrel at home. I'm going to share that video on my site as well. Thanks Camper! We benefit from your prodigiousness.

Camper English

I also have a video of the "old method" done with a flamethrower:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWGL2z4BFLs

Rob Burr

I give them an "A" for the quality of that tour of Guatemala, the food, the rum, the sights, the distillery, the aging warehouse above the clouds. Personally love the helicopter tours.

Tristan

Camper,

I'm a Zacapa ambassador in the UK, I can give you a refresher on the ageing process of RZ 23 & XO if you require it? Drop me an email.

Cheers,

Tristan

Camper English

Thanks Tristan- I'm corresponding with Lorena on this one, as it's kind of a subtle and technical question. Will post when I fully get it...

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