If you're not familiar with Zacapa, the Guatemalen rum, you probably will be before long.
Beverage giant Diageo PLC has signed a three-year deal to distribute and market the brand globally. It will have control of the brand in most markets excluding Guatemala and Central America.
At the end of the deal, Diageo will have the option to buy a 50% equity stake in the brand.
"The Zacapa brand will widen our brand range within the second largest and fastest growing major spirits category in the world and diversify our reserve brand collection," said Randy Millian, managing director of Diageo’s Latin America & Caribbean hub.
The Zacapa rum range includes Zacapa Centenario 15, Zacapa Centenario 23 and Zacapa Centenario XO.
I first came across the brand while judging the inaugural International Cane Spirits Competition in Tampa, FL, in 2006. We awarded a gold medal in the premium rums category to Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 Year Old. My tasting notes at the time referred to it as "Irish whiskey style; very smooth; butterscotch notes."
Zacapa took first place honors in the premium rums category in the 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 International Rum Festival competitions. In 2003 it was honored by the International Rum Festival as the first rum ever inducted into its Hall of Fame. And, it received the highest rum score from the Beverage Testing Institute at 98 points.
The rum is produced in the small town of Zacapaneca. It is aged in American oak barrels, which helps impart a dark amber-brown color as well as layers of taste.
Diageo, incidentally, recently dropped out of the bidding for Sweden's Absolut Vodka and formed a joint venture with the owners of the rival Dutch vodka, Ketel One.
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