Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Behind the Scenes with Ron Santa Teresa

Hacienda Santa Teresa has been one of Venezuela's leading rum producers for over 200 years and has earned an excellent reputation for their high quality spirits. We interviewed Daniela Curiel, Brand Manager of Ron Santa Teresa to bring you the true story behind the brand, and give you a closer look at the culture and history that shapes it.

1. What is the history behind the Santa Teresa brand? How did the company begin?

Ron Santa Teresa is the oldest producer of Ron de Venezuela. Its origins date back to 1796, when the Count of Tovar founded the Hacienda Santa Teresa. By the middle of the 19th century, aguardientes from sugar cane were being produced in Santa Teresa. In 1909, Ron Santa Teresa was registered as the first Ron de Venezuela brand. Under the leadership of the 5th Vollmer family generation, Ron Santa Teresa is currently devoted to the distilling and marketing of the finest añejos.

2. What sets Santa Teresa apart from the competition?

We are proud to be an independent Venezuelan family business. We have been growing sugar cane at the Hacienda Santa Teresa for more than 215 years. At the Hacienda, we distill, age and bottle the finest rums. Our ultra Premium Santa Teresa 1796 is the pioneer in the rum industry using the ancient Solera method - the secret of Spain’s sherry and brandy producers. Our rum is the only añejo in the world that is totally aged through this artisanal process. Our portfolio includes extra aged rum Selecto, Santa Teresa Añejo and Santa Teresa Claro. All our rums boast the seal that certifies their origin and quality: the Controlled Denomination of Origin, Ron de Venezuela. We also produce rum-based liquors Rhum Orange Liqueur and Arakú. We are definitely rum focused and we aim to boost the Premium rum category around the world.

The Hacienda Santa Teresa is also home to the Alcatraz Project, a two-year program which recruits and rehabilitates gangs of young criminals.  After a period of isolation involving an intensive three-month scheme of labor, education, rugby training, psychological assistance and community service, gang members are taught skills from home-building to producing gourmet coffee, coaching, cooking or serving as security officers. The result has been a dramatic reduction of the crime-rate in Revenga county, where the Hacienda is located, and which was among the highest in the country; from 77 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants per year in 2003 to only 27 in 2008.  We strongly believe that the viability and profitability of our business is dependent not only on our ability to produce exceptional quality rums, but on our ability to generate growth and well-being in the surrounding community, on which we are so dependent for the stability and sustainability of Santa Teresa.

3. What inspired the company to enter the US market directly from Venezuela?

After Spain, the US is the second market for rum in the world. We began our international business in Spain and have been in that market for more than 10 years. Our brands have been growing in Spain all these years. So, it was time for us to come to the US and take care of the American consumer. Additionally, cocktails are in the American DNA and rum is the base of so many wonderful cocktails. Our rums have been very welcomed by mixologists and bartenders in New York.

4. We heard that Santa Teresa has a private single barrel program. Can you tell us more about it?

Bodega Privada was especially created for the most demanding palates. Bodega Privada is a lineage rum ultra Premium añejo of unrivaled smoothness. Since 1989, a blend of high quality mature and smooth rums, continues its ageing process in 140 white oak barrels, in the oldest Venezuelan ageing shed: our Bodega Privada. This shed is located just across from the house of the Count of Tovar y Blanco, who in 1796 founded the Hacienda Santa Teresa. Bodega Privada owners enjoy the privilege of having their own particular barrel and of having personalized labels on each bottle of their particular rum.

5. Santa Teresa has released a premium rum that is not yet available in the US. Can you give us more information on this product? When can we expect it to reach the US market?

Bicentenario A.J.Vollmer is the collector’s ultra Premium rum. Its unsurpassable maturity is the result of carefully blending the oldest Santa Teresa reserves with ‘new generation’ rums. Rums aged in white oak barrels for more than 35 years, are blended with 80 year-old añejos. This gives Bicentenario A.J.Vollmer its distinction. This blend is then aged in oak casks for 15 years, until the rum reaches its unique and unmistakable smoothness. Launched in 1986, it announced the bicentenary of Hacienda Santa Teresa. Only 1,200 liters a year of this limited production are taken from the casks to fill 1,800 numbered bottles that carry the signature of Alberto J. Vollmer, fourth generation of Santa Teresa rum distillers. Because the production is so limited, we have reserved Bicentenario A.J.Vollmer exclusively to the Venezuelan market.

Enjoy Ron Santa Teresa in the Angel's Share Cocktail:

1 1/2 shots of Ron Gran Reserva
3/4 chopped lime
1/4 chopped orange
1 tablespoon of sugar

Add the fruit to a rocks glass and muddle. Add Gran Reserva and crushed ice and stir. Garnish with a lime or orange slice.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

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