Over 125 years, five generations and a process that can take from four to 25 years. That’s the essence of Flor de Cana, Nicaragua’s delicious rum that has continued to be processed despite political unrest, volcano eruptions, and earthquakes.
A mere hour or so drive away from the heart of Leon, you can visit the Flor de Cana distillery and museum, where a two-hour tour will give you an overview of Nicaragua’s top spirit. Jumping into outdoor buggies, we were whisked away first by our guide to watch a brief video about Flor de Cana.
Since 1890, Flor de Cana has been aged at the base of San Cristobal volcano, where the volcano-enriched spirit has been distilled. The drink was a fairly well-kept secret of the country until the 1950s when the rum started to be exported around the world.
The rum production process itself is also very sustainable. For example, each year the company plants over 50,000 trees, and the rum is distilled with 100% renewable energy.
The next (and most important) stop on the tour, was to the family’s private tasting room to sample one of their finest products. The group was busting with anticipation and of course, what’s a rum tour without tastings?
Flor de Cana is available in four, seven, 18 and 25-year aged varieties, and during the tour, you can sample both the 18 and the four-year-old drinks. The younger varieties are typically enjoyed mixed with soda. We tried the 18-year-old distilled drink first in a cool underground room filled with barrels, where our guide talked us through the sight, smell (smooth, molasses) and taste of the rum.
Unlike other spirits, however, the sense of touch is added to the experience. Pour the smallest drops onto your hands and rub them together and you’re not only greeted with the sweet smell of the rum between your fingers. Once you’ve finished absorbing it into your skin, you realize that there’s no sticky residue remaining at all. It’s almost like you’ve washed your hands with a silky soap.
Photos are not normally permitted during the tasting but I managed to convince the guide to allow a quick snap of the bottle we sampled.
The barrels themselves are imported from the U.S., where they previously stored whiskey and bourbon, adding to the flavors of the final product. We were able to see one of the many storage rooms they had in the vicinity, which housed literally thousands upon thousands of the good stuff. The barrels are tested regularly, to safeguard against any leaks or other issues.
Predictably, the tour finishes up at a museum/gift shop, where you can try the four-year-old variety and make any final purchases. And after a few more tastings, who can resist taking home a bottle (or two)?
If you are staying in Leon this tour is well worth the $10 entry fee. However, if you can’t make it to the tour during your visit to Nicaragua make sure you try one of these award-winning rums.