The world of Spanish wines

Ron pálido de Motril

Spain may be famous for its wine, however the country also produces a number of different spirits such as rum. No matter where you go in Spain, you are sure to find vineyards, but not so long ago you could have headed to the South of Spain and found large amounts of sugar cane. In particular, if you were to visit Granada a decade ago, and more specifically the municipality of Motril, you would have seen that the sugarcane industry was well established, as was their Spanish rum industry.

The rum made in this region is known as Ron pálido de Motril (Pale Rum of Motril) and occupies a soft spot in the hearts of all the residents of the region. Despite being mostly unknown internationally, this Spanish rum is certainly a high quality drink that people still love.

History of Ron de Motril

The history of rum in Spain begins with the arrival of sugarcane to the Iberian peninsular. It is widely believed that the crop was brought to the country by the Moors during their occupation of the peninsular. This is when it began to be cultivated in the southern regions of Spain, as the plant grew well in the conditions found in this part of the country.

From then on however, the history of this particular Spanish drink is mostly unknown. It appeared later on in history at the exposition of Spanish products in Madrid in 1828 where it won an important prize. However, it is not known as to who made the rum or even who brought the bottle to the exposition.

However, the rum from Motril gained national fame and continued to be made from then on. Its fame was helped along by Francisco Montero Martín who began manufacturing the drink in 1963. He used to travel around the country, asking for the drink in different bars and restaurants as he went in order to increase the awareness and the intrigue surrounding the drink.

Of course, Motril's rum was not fully appreciated however until Francisco Montero Martín decided to stop making the drink. As the old saying goes 'you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone'. However, ron de Motril continues to be made in the region, and thanks to both its rarity and its high quality, continues to be a classic example of great Spanish spirits.

The drink has become so integrated with the culture and the history of the town of Motril, that people still recount anecdotes and stories about it. One of the more famous ones that made it into the papers tells the story of how the humble Spanish rum made it to Cuba. Rum is a very common drink in Cuba, and so when a group of Cuban musicians came to visit Spain, naturally they asked for a bottle in the local bar. However, having no international rum, the bartender had to offer them a bottle of the local ron pálido de Motril. Fortunately, the Cuban musicians like the rum, and they liked it so much that they bought a case of it to take back to Cuba.

Unfortunately, the production of sugarcane in Spain ceased in 2006 which meant that sugarcane to make this Spanish rum had to be imported from abroad, mainly Latin American countries such as Mexico, Brazil and the Dominican Republic. However, the production of the drink has remained the same.

Production of Ron de Motril

The rum made in this Spanish region used to be considered as a bi-product of the larger sugarcane industry, however since the abolition of sugarcane in Spain, rum from Motril has become a much more refined industry.

Production of rum starts with the harvest and grinding of the sugarcane in the sugarcane refineries. The resulting juice is then purified, filtered and heated in order to crystallise the sugars. After the crystallisation process of approximately half of the sugar, you get a dark, thick honey like syrup which is called melaza.

This syrup then undergoes a natural fermentation period, the duration of which affects the type of rum produced. To make ron de Motril, the sugar is normally fermented for 24 to 30 hours, which produces a relatively light and pale rum. Following this, the mixture is then distilled. The distillation process actually produces 5 different levels of alcohol, only two of which are used to produce the final rum.

This alcohol mixture is then transferred to wooden barrels made of American Oak. For most rums, barrels which have already been used in the production of whiskey or bourbon are normally used. However, the rum from Spain is aged in 'virgin' barrels which have not been used in the production of anything else beforehand, which gives the rum a unique and distinctive taste. The final process is blending in which the rum master creates the final mixture, producing a drink with an alcohol percentage of 37.5.

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