Botran 18: The Guatemalan Spirit Redefined
We reviewed Botran 15 in the March 2023 issue and found this rum from Guatemala complex enough to continue sipping after the article was written. If a rum aged between 5-15 years piqued our interest, what will three more years of aging provide to the rum experience? Botran 18 has a lot to live up to.
Botran’s Illustrious Legacy
The Merino brothers founded Botran in 1940, and have worked hard for the past 80 years to make Botran Guatemala’s top-selling aged rum. After a brief hiatus in 2019, Botran returned to the United States market in 2022, emphasizing sustainability. The company’s ISCC accreditation (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification) makes them the world’s first sustainable rum that is “from crop to drop.” They are certified as a Protective Designation of Origin product of Guatemala since they grow, ferment, and distill their sugar cane in the rich fields of Retalhuleu, age in the mountains of Quetzaltenango, and bottle in Mexico.
Botran 18: The Spirit of Don Vevancio
All Botran rums are made from pure, raw, concentrated sugarcane to create concentrated juice or virgin honey. Botran 18 is made in the spirit of Don Vevancio, the first Merino brother inspired by Guatemala. They say this blend captures, “His passion, fire and determination in one bottle.” The rum is aged in American Whiskey, medium-toasted American Whiskey, Port, and Sherry wine barrels for 5-18 years.
The nose is sweet with caramel, honey, and butterscotch, overpowering a slight fruit note which I can’t quite identify here because of all the sweetness. On the palate, the liquid is very smooth, providing the same sweetness from the nose. Dark Cherry leads the liquid to the finish, where I surprisingly find smokey notes that lingers slightly. As I continue to sip, the finish changes from sweet, dark cherry notes to a more earthy tobacco and burlap. I find this rum very intriguing.
The reddish mahogany liquid coats the glass providing long lacing. The entire time Clint was sampling the rum, I closed my eyes, trying to determine what I smelled. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s not sweet to me. I lean more toward cocoa powder used for baking. The rum has a rich texture that explodes on my palate with bitter dark chocolate. The finish initially burns the top of my throat, then smooths out to a more satisfying warmth. I experience absolutely no fruit. I continue to sip because I enjoy the mystery of the rum.
15 vs. 18
We compared the 15 to the 18. Clint said the 15 lacked depth and preferred the uniqueness of the 18. Terry preferred the nose and palate of the 15 but enjoyed the finish of the 18.
At $45/bottle, Botran 18 has become high on Clint’s list of drinkability for a sipping rum. He loves how the rum changes, presenting the notes differently to create a unique experience with each sip. Terry conceded, noting that the mystery is a large part of the experience.
4.75 of 5
About Clint and Terry: We have sampled many a dram over our 33 years of marriage and quite often we don’t fully agree. Could be the difference is male/female taste buds. Or, somebody is just wrong.