Caña Brava is a creation of Master Blender Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez. When the 86 Co. decided to develop an “old school” blanco rum for the bar trade, they began developing the spirit with Don Pancho at the Las Cabres Distillery. Using sugar cane grown in the Herrera region of Panama, they distill their rum from molasses using Pineapple yeast for fermentation. During distillation the rum is run through five column stills using copper and brass plates. Before the rum is put in the barrel for aging it is blended down to 75% ABV.
The rum is aged in two parts: In stage one it is aged in new American oak barrels for 18-24 months. After the rum completes stage one it is blended down to 49% ABV and aged for a minimum of one year in used American Whiskey and Bourbon Barrels. After stage two is complete the rum is blended with an older rum and brought down to 86 proof, then put through a three part filtration process. The rum is then shipped to the U.S. and bottled in California.
Caña Brava’s crystal clear rum in a tall one liter custom bottle secured with a red screw cap. When they say this product was developed for the trade, I believe them. Everything about the design of the bottle is easy to handle from the size of the neck to the grooves in the body of the bottle. Even the side of the bottle has measurements showing how much liquid is remaining in it.
The rum has a nice fruity aroma. I detected a mix of lemon and limes, sweet cane, honey, and cantaloupe.
The rum lit the palate with a sweet vanilla swirl, balanced by tart citrus, smoky cocoa and oak take over and linger into the finish.
When 86 Co. set out to develop this rum it was with the goal of producing a quality ingredient rum that would be good in cocktails like Daiquiris. The first drink I made with it was a classic daiquiri and it did not disappoint. We then experimented with it making other cocktails and noticed it provided a nice bump to any recipe that had a citrus base. Not a surprise considering the strong citrus notes detected in the profile. I suspect it would work well with other fruit juices, but would avoid it with strong syrup flavors like cola that would bury its positive attributes.
While working with the rum, my wife came up with a nice Rum Collins recipe using Caña Brava as its core ingredient:
• 1 1/2 oz. Caña Brava
• Juice of 1 Lemon, squeezed
• 1/2 oz. Simple Syrup (or Demararra Simple Syrup)
• Club Soda
Add the first 3 ingredients to a double old fashioned glass with ice; stir. Top with club soda. Garnish with lemon peel, mint and rosemary.
This review first appeared in Got Rum? magazine.