Women in liquor: Ron Zacapa’s Lorena Vásquez

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In addition to wines, we also carry cider and liquor made by women! Lorena Vásquez, Zacapa Rum’s master blender, works 2,300m above sea level in Guatemala, where she combines aromas and flavors of slowly aged rums to create an exquisite blend. In an interview with Master of Malt’s Annie Hayes, she talks about her background and how she became the master blender she is today.

Lorena grew up in Nicaragua, then went to university and studied chemistry and food technology before moving to Guatemala. After originally working in a brewery she decided that she was more interested in rum. She started at Zacapa and has spent the last 35 years building Zacapa into the renowned brand it is today. As for her unique abilities Lorena says:

“Rum production has a lot to do with chemistry, so it’s helped me to understand the process a lot more. I’ve got the analytical side – the background and training and the chemistry side which is the hard bit – but then I also have a great nose, so it’s a great combination. I will be able to smell the rum and say, ‘ok, there is a problem with the fermentation process’ because I understand all the different compounds that go into producing it.”

Above all, Lorena says her passion for rum is the most important element,

“Fermentation and distillation is more of a mechanical process, the ageing process is where the passion comes in. The former is analytical whereas the latter is very creative and personal. Every day we blend rums and we have to try them halfway through the morning and halfway through the afternoon. Each barrel to me is like a living person. It came from a different tree, it was treated differently, and when we fill it with rum we have no idea what’s going to happen. It’s only when we taste it that we know how it has developed, and we are continuously mixing to find the right balance.”

You can see Lorena at work in the video, The Art of Slow: Journey Above the Clouds. As for serving suggestions, Lorena suggests a Zacapa Old Fashioned, Zacapa Negroni and drinking it neat.

Ron Zacapa 23-year Centenario Rum ($54)

For more in our Women Winemakers series, browse our Women Winemakers category!