The story of Rum has always been one of discovery and reinvention, of pioneering spirits, swashbuckling adventurers and those who take joy in new flavors, aromas, and sensations.
From the very first distillation of sugar cane hundreds of years ago, and since those initial heavenly and heady sips, Rum drinkers have known that they’re onto something special, as Rum presents something which few other drinks can offer. It’s a spirit which brings to the palate depth and warmth, a sense of time and place, an escape into exoticism, sophistication, rare moments of treasured relaxation. It’s history in a bottle, a culmination of centuries of exploration and finesse.
And yet, and yet. Today, it would be fair to say that not all Rums are created equal. Indeed, one could argue that it would even be an understatement. While the bars of this world heave with standard, dull bottles of Rum destined to be mixed with fizzy pop, and necked by those who don’t know better, the connoisseurs among us spend our time delving a little deeper.
Rum lovers in the 21st century are accustomed to seeking out bottles which reflect the fascinating history of this spirit and drive it to new and exciting heights. Bottles such as those made by a certain Mr. Andrew Troyer and his team, who have graced our liquor cabinets with ARÔME Rum – a spirit which has set tongues wagging in recent years, thanks to its impeccable smoothness, all-enveloping depth of flavor and air of utter, inimitable distinction.
A Quest for Perfection
Andrew Troyer is not your archetypical luxury spirits producer. He doesn’t come from some grand dynasty of Rum distillers, nor did he inherit a chateau somewhere, complete with everything required to establish himself in the industry. Despite growing up in rural communities in Arizona and Northwest Ohio, where he was expected to involve himself in the agricultural sector, he had his sights set on the world of luxury goods.
As he puts it: “I always had an interest in products that were special and the best in their class. In my sales career, I transitioned from luxury automobiles into yachts. As an entrepreneur, I had a vision for a product and strived for several years to bring my vision to fruition.” This upwards trajectory, of constantly uncovering greater and greater zeniths of perfection and layers of luxury, would go onto define his later achievements.
Striving for perfection is key when it comes to the production of any quality spirit. However, it wasn’t completely clear just how much the world was calling out for a refined, luxurious sipping Rum until ARÔME came along. Troyer’s explanation for how that initial spark of inspiration came about it deceptively simple.
“My life changed at a small bar in Rosemary Beach, Florida in November of 2012. While drinking a bottle of Cabernet with a friend and discussing wines, wine cellars, Vodka, and sipping Tequila, I asked a question… Where is all the great sipping Rum and why aren’t they on the shelf?”
It’s a question many have asked, and yet few have had the drive and passion to answer. Once Troyer made the decision to jump head first into the world of Rum, he set out on a journey which bordered on the obsessive at times. He tirelessly sourced cane spirits from around the globe, and made endless comparisons to initially discover what his palate preferred, and then to establish what he believed the luxury market would appreciate the most. It was, he claims, like “Alice jumping down the rabbit hole”.
Inspiration and Collaboration
When asked what makes ARÔME 28 so special, Andrew Troyer is keen to get across the idea that his Rum is very much the result of collaboration, and the input of several master craftspeople, whose passion have helped drive his own.
His inspiration was spurred on by early trips to Italy’s SHOWRUM festival, where he was introduced to the USA’s Robert Burr, Javier Herrera of Spain, and a wealth of other rum experts, enthusiasts and distillers from Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and more. His experience was a collective one – it seemed as though the moment was right to dive ever deeper, and head out to the spiritual home of Rum in search of the final pieces of the puzzle.
One cannot make a masterful Rum without the intervention and guidance of a maestro, and Troyer was lucky to come across one of the few individuals on earth bestowed with the title of Rum Maestro. He says: “Early on I was introduced to an exceptionally talented Cuban-born Rum master, and was blessed to find and purchase Rum out of an aging warehouse in Panama.” As the plan fell together, and it was clear that he had an outstanding product on his hands, Troyer turned his sales expertise to creating a brand and working on packaging which was capable of reflecting the excellence of the rum he’d uncovered. Five years later, and he’s still thrilled to find ARÔME Rum on the shelves of world-class restaurants, in the bars of iconic hotels, and heralded by award-winning sommeliers and Rum enthusiasts across the globe.
A True Taste of Panama and Cuba
You can’t get involved with Cuban Rum masters and Panamanian distilleries without picking up a few stories and inheriting a fairly turbulent and dramatic history. Such things are what add a legendary status to fine liquors, a depth of the real, the artisanal, and the revolutionary… all of which lend much-needed authenticity to a luxury product.
The distillery in which ARÔME 28 is produced has a history which is as fascinating as it is representative of its region, and Andrew Troyer has been keen to get its unique story out there, so as to give Rum fans an insight into where their product comes from.
The distillery of Las Cabras was founded in 1912 when it was known as Ingenio Azucarero. Over the next 65 years, it changed hands (and names) no less than four times, due to a range of reasons which read like the plot of a Garcia Marquez novel.
1968 saw an explosive military coup overthrow the government of Panama, during which time the owners of the distillery saw their business expropriated. It continued as a sugar refinery and distillation still, however, it found itself producing Rum for the Cuban government and took on the colloquial name ‘Las Cabras’ due to the fact that then—as now—it was always surrounded by goats seeking scraps to eat.
The 1980s brought more changes, and in ‘87, the distillery was sold to private buyers and was known by the name Azucares y Alcoholes S.A. However, whatever dreams and ambitions the buyers have for the distillery were relatively quickly abandoned, as 1989 saw the invasion of Panama by US military forces, who were moving into expelling General Noriega from power. During the struggles, the distillery was abandoned, and it wasn’t until 1991 that operations began once more.
Troyer’s product, ARÔME 28, is very much a product of these times, and his packaging and reverence for this aged Rum go to great lengths to reflect that. The intention was for ARÔME 28—a 28 year aged Rum—to be presented as an artisan product. Each bottle is individually inspected and fitted with a hand-applied metal label, in order to reflect its unique qualities and superior flavor, born of a turbulent and intriguing history.
The Real Deal
Authenticity is hard to come by, nowadays. However, it is an exciting, orthodox, old school authenticity that Andrew Troyer is bringing to the spirits world, and it is being undertaken with a level of panache and style hitherto missing from the rum shelves.
ARÔME 28 is a Rum born of tradition and made using a seriously impressive set of principles and pieces of equipment… including a copper single column still which dates back to 1912. The Rum is aged using simple, genuine methods – here, you’ll find none of the tricks of the trade, solera systems or other types of funny business used by lesser distilleries to ‘age’ the rum. There is no substitute for time, patience, and the gradual, leveling effects of barrel-induced oxidation, after all. Indeed, when it comes to barrels, Troyer is keen to point out that here is where much of the smoothness and character is imparted: ARÔME 28 is aged in American Oak Kentucky sourced ex-Bourbon Whiskey casks, which lend a distinctive sweetness and complexity, and yet another level of depth and involvement on the palate.
As the master blender of ARÔME 28 puts it: this is a 100% Panamanian Rum, created without compromise.
Photo Credit: ARÔME 28