The rich history of Guatemala is marked not only by the rise and fall of religious cultures but also volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and the arrival of foreign armies. Guatemala has the highest and most active volcanoes in this part of the world which are responsible for valleys which literally overflow with agricultural products for the local and export markets. The earliest known settlements in this diverse country were found on the Pacific coast and date to about 2000 B.C.
More than two millennium later, Guatemala was the center of Mayan culture in Central America in what scholars refer to as the Classic Period 300 - 900 A.D. The Mayan's religious beliefs and agricultural dependence led to the development of a calendar that rivals even those in use today. The largest of the Mayan religious centers, Tikal, demonstrates the application of mathematics and astronomy which was unknown in other parts of the world. Now a World Heritage Site, the history and culture of Tikal and it's Mayan inhabitants is studied by scholars from around the world.
Ciudad Vieja - the old city, the first colonial era capital was destroyed when an earthquake breeched the banks of a lake above the city and literally washed Ciudad Vieja from the mountainside in 1542. After relocating the capital to Antigua the following year, that city was destroyed by two earthquakes in 1773. The Spanish ruins of that city have been preserved but the capital was moved to Guatemala City in 1776. The Spanish, who had controlled the country since 1524, granted Guatemala independence in 1821.
The diverse typography of this Central American country bordered by Mexico, Belize, the Caribbean Sea, Honduras, El Salvador and the Pacific Ocean is only one of the ingredients that contribute to Guatemala's award winning rums. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of sugar cane grow on the fertile coastal plains west and south of the volcanic mountain range that connects the North and South American continents.
As the world price of sugar rose in the 1960s Guatemala's sugar factories were updated and new state of the art factories were built. Between 1999 and 2001, Guatemala was the seventh sugar exporter in the world and third behind Brazil and Cuba in Latin America. In 2004, sugar mills produced more than 2 million tons of sugar making sugar cane Guatemala's second largest agricultural crop.
1948 marked the beginning of the modern era of rum production in Guatemala. At that time scores of distilleries in the various Guatemala districts were producing rum for the local market. Poor transportation, language and regional differences made national distribution of any single rum all but impossible. Over the years, many of these distilleries failed, others combined their production, aging and bottling companies into what is now Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala. Today there is only one distillery making rum, as defined by the Guatemalan laws that regulate alcohol production, and several others making cane spirits called aguardiente.
To be labeled rum in Guatemala the spirit must be distilled from fermented virgin sugar cane honey, a dark sweet syrup made from freshly squeezed sugar cane juice. The virgin sugar cane honey, as it is called in Guatemala, is made by filtering fresh sugar cane juice and then boiling off the water until the syrup contains about 72% sugar. Only sugar cane grown in Guatemala is used to make this virgin sugar cane honey since it would be impossible to transport cane cut in another country to a Guatemalan sugar mill. Most of the sugar cane used at Licoreras de Guatemala is cut by hand since hand cutting allows a much more controlled harvest. Most of the cane is burned before cutting to make it easier to cut the cane but some sugar is caramelized in the stack and the sugar content is reduced from an optimum of about 23% sugar to about 17% by the time it reaches the sugar mill. The dark color is attributed to two factors, slight carmelization of the sugar and oxidation of the fresh juice. Care is taken to caramelize as little of the sugar as possible. Spirits made from molasses in Guatemala are called aguardiente. Like a few other countries, rum must be aged in oak barrels at least one year. Guatemala has also requires that the fresh spirit be put into the barrel at no more than 60% abv.
- There is only 1 sugar cane spirit distiller in this database from Guatemala.
- Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala