So following on from the Bajan Estate XO, we laid our eager mits on the Cana Negra Guatemalan Gran Reserva Rum. But that’s far too much of a mouthful to keep writing, so I’ll be sticking with Gran Reserva (by the mouthful) for now.
The Gran Reserva would appear to have been born in fine company as there are some rather famous premium brands operating out of Guatemala (Ron Zacapa and Ron Botran) producing their fine rums at an ageing house located around 2,300m above sea level - genuinely above the clouds. And quite rightly they make a big deal about their method of production, i.e.; the solera system of different cask types: American Oak Bourbon and charred American Oak Bourbon, Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez Sherry and French Limousin Cognac cask.
The Gran Reserva claims to be “…aged in a bodega quite literally above the clouds…” although it does not mention the solera system anywhere, it does mention bourbon, then two types of sherry. It would appear unlikely that there are two such facilities in Guatemala, so I think we can safely draw a conclusion it’s one and the same. Which is kinda cool…
So just as the rums produced at Foursquare Distillery in Barbados head to Cognac Ferrand for further ageing before becoming Bajan Estate XO – the rums from Guatemala head to France for a little more of the same nurturing. A further ageing in ex-Cognac cask, coupled with a little sweetening and gentle reduction to bottle strength brings us to the product I have in front of me.
Just as the Bajan Estate XO could be said to have parallels with the Plantation Barbados 5 Year Old, I think it’s fair to say that the Gran Reserva can draw parallels with the excellent Plantation Guatemala Gran Añejo. Where I found the XO to be richer and a little drier than the 5yo, I find the reverse with the Gran Reserva over the Gran Añejo. The Gran Reserva being a little lighter and sweeter with a thinner mouth feel over the Gran Añejo. Just like the Bajan Estate XO, it is very, very approachable though – scarily so. The bottle has taken an enormous hit during the time it’s taken to record my musings and observations. An obvious difference between the M&S Gran Reserva is that it has a bottle strength of 40% ABV and the Plantation Guatemala Gran Añejo comes in a little stronger at 42% ABV. I wonder if the 2% makes the difference or if it’s in the blend? We’ve heard Alexandre Gabriel can be quite exacting: a half of one percent matters enough to be argued over. I guess we’ll ask him at the launch.
The presentation is much prettier this time – strong contrasting label and comfortable colour scheme. It shares the same bottle, cap and dastardly shrinkwrap though… So all in all, there’s a bit less to gripe about this expression, than the previous.
Coming in at £3 more expensive per bottle than the Bajan Estate XO, the Gran Reserva is still a very affordable £25 though and in my opinion represents fantastic value for money. Incidentally, the lovely Plantation Guatemala Gran Añejo can be found at Master of Malt for £27.22+postage – just to put up a cost comparison.
With the Bajan Estate XO and the Cana Negra Guatemalan Gran Reserva Rums, Marks and Spencer have hit pure gold – I count both as sipping rums, despite their relatively low price and I’m struggling to find fault with them. Both are flavoursome and easy to drink, both have a story to tell and both are great value. For the first time I have the option to walk to our nearest M&S Food Hall and pick up a bottle of fantastic rum, without having to think a few days ahead and order online or head into London or one of the larger towns or cities.
Buy online at M&S: http://www.marksandspencer.com/Cana-Negra-Guatemalan-Rum-NV/dp/B00B8HXUOW
I’m so pleased that M&S have chosen to partner up with Cognac Ferrand and I really hope that these two rums work out for them commercially and that they are encouraged to feature a white rum, much along the lines of Plantation 3 Stars in the very near future (pretty please). In order to make this happen – I need all you rummies to get along to M&S and buy the rum regularly. Go on… do it now!
Rum Databank: Marks and Spencer Cana Negra Guatemalan Gran Reserva Rum
Country of origin: Guatemala & France
Age: Not stated
[Under £15 = £ / £15 to £25 = ££ / £25 to £40 = £££ / £40 to £100 = ££££ / Over £100 = £££££]
Other Related Info: Solera System. Multi cask finish
Available From: Marks and Spencer [Buy in store or online http://www.marksandspencer.com/Cana-Negra-Guatemalan-Rum-NV/dp/B00B8HXUOW]