“Hi, we’d like to invite you to the Ron Zacapa launch!”
“Oh, ok cool, I love clothes!”
“No, no no… It’s a type of rum.”
“It’s from Guatemala”
“Just come to the launch”
I toddled into Kloof Street House with zero expectation. I read that it was a fancy rum, but that seemed farfetched. A fancy rum? Really? Little did I know that it’s listed as one of the “World’s Top 100 Most Valuable Luxury Brands”. Oh. OK.
This ultra-premium rum has just launched in South Africa and rum-lovers and haters alike need to get their hands on it, because trust me, it is deliciously rich and smooth.
Originating from the highlands of Guatemala, it’s slow barrel-aged for between 6 and 23 years. What I really love about the brand, is while they cater to the upper end of the market, they haven’t forgotten their roots. Each bottle of Ron Zacapa Centenario has a petate band – a hand-woven sash created by a group of 900 Guatemalan women, helping them support their families and communities.
But enough history. Let’s talk the launch.
Throughout the night we were entertained, educated and liquored up (I couldn’t think of a third “e”) by the lovely Master Blender, Ana Lorena Vásquez Ampié. Not only does she know everything there is to know about RZ, but she’s a mean lean drink blending machine.
Scallops and oysters were complemented with avocado, grapefruit and crispy onion – resulting in a well-rounded combo of salty, creamy, citrusy, earthy.
+ The Eterna Primavera cocktail
Smoked Ron Zacapa sprayed into the glass, with Pedro Ximenez Sherry, a sweet date reduction and fresh lime to pick up the fruitness of the ceviche. The smokiness picked up on the toasted seeds on the ceviche. All in all, a fresh, but strangely wintery starter.
Soft Shell Crab
Served in a light tempura batter, with chilli and toasted fennel seed salt and a lemon butter. I really don’t like soft shell crab, but it was cooked well and the flavours worked well together.
+ The Cloud Experience
A glass of Ron Zacapa was smoked with cinnamon wood before serving, this added a sweet smokiness to its slightly fruity, rich date notes.
While the others had smoked paprika pork belly with vanilla creamed corn and a tomato and coriander salsa, us non-pork eaters had Moroccan spiced lamb, served on a bed of couscous, with a fresh cabbage slaw and a techina cream. Magnificent.
This boom boom pow (yes, that’s now an official descriptor) drink, with plenty punch was made using ol’ RZ, with port, a cheery, plum and balsamic shrub (a barrel-aged reduction), pastis and fresh citus.
Rich, dark and decadent, chocolate brownie, with an earthy beetroot swirl.
RZ with homemade chai bitters, a raspberry shrub, maple syrup and citrus. This drink was delicious enough to take home, and oh guess what, they made it in little vials so that we could.
At every turn, I was surprised. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Ron Zacapa. I was surprised by by finding myself at a wonderfully intimate, but relaxing dinner, as opposed to a pretentious event. I was surprised that there wasn’t just a brand manager there answering questions, but Master Blender, Ana Lorena Vásquez Ampié who lives the brand. I was surprised that rum could be mixed and paired in so many (enjoyable) ways. It was a surprising night of deliciousness that I will remember for a long time.