El Amparo Ron Equatorial

29 novembre 2023

El Amparo is a pure single rum from Ecuador, produced in the Jipijapa area from a sugar cane variety commonly referred to as Cubana Negra. Founded in 1565, the city of Jipijapa is located in the province of Manabì, western Ecuador, on the coastal region bordering on the Pacific Ocean.

Sugar cane is processed with the same traditional methods that have been used for three generations. Harvest takes place between September and January, when the plants are 18 months old. The only tool used is a machete, and the cut is made leaving about 15 cm below the bud of the cane - both to allow multiple harvests from the same plant and to prevent the juice from becoming too acidic when the cane is ground, as this part is not yet ripe for processing. 

Fermentation starts spontaneously with wild yeasts in 1000- to 3000-liter containers. Fermentation time depends on the sugar content of the cane and ranges between 5 and 7 days.

Distillation uses a copper still with a capacity of 500 liters. An interesting detail is that the top of the column is equipped with a funnel-shaped part. This feature dates back to long ago and it's designed to create a specific opposition to vapors as well as help concentrate the aromas. After one distillation, the spirit has a strength of around 60% ABV. The first batch of El Amparo was bottled at cask strength.

El Amparo means ‘refuge’ or ‘shelter’. The person who came up with this name is Gonzalo Almanzor Zorrilla Toala, the maternal grandfather of the current owner, Carlos Baque Zorrilla - the third generation to carry on the tradition of this product. Incidentally, El Amparo is also the name of the land Toala owned, which he began to sow with sugar cane.  

While aguardiente – a strong sugar cane spirit – is produced in many South American countries, Ecuador has a long tradition of spirits only produced for the local market and unknown anywhere else until very recent times. This bottling was created to celebrate the 60-year-long history of the Zorilla family spanning three generations.

Releasing a new product is not a quick process, and often involves a great deal of preliminary study and research followed by rigorous selection. In the case of El Amparo, the procedure involved tasting samples of aguardiente from 18 different distilleries in Ecuador, selected over others that did not pass the preliminary stage. Of these only the five best remained, and a careful comparative tasting by Luca Gargano and Angelo Canessa revealed El Amparo's superiority.

According to Angelo's tasting notes at the time of the selection, the nose "is like a fragrance, intensely floral, especially iris, camellia and rose." It's also "very personal, a very different style, geranium, anise and cumin, a very distinctive spice mix, cardamom and ginger with a cocoa butter and woody finish, moderate intensity and not too overwhelming in terms of persistence."

The mouth was defined as "very intense and persistent, harmonious and well-balanced, with a finish reminiscent of muscat grapes, raisins and bunches left to dry on the vine." The finish is "very long, even after 15 minutes the retro-nasal aromas are still there together with a very pleasant warm sensation."