The Tenango Rum Story
Hi--we’re Tenango! While we’re the newer brand on the block, our partnering distillery has been in the rum game for more than 100 years. Our mission is to deliver sustainable, authentic, and premium Guatemalen rum that’s perfect for any occasion.
Let us introduce you to our Guatemalan heritage and our mission to preserve it through top-shelf, ethically sourced dark rum.
Tenango Rum Roots
Tenango Rum was conceptualized and founded by Sofia Deleon, native Guatemalen, owner of El Merkury in Philly’s Reading Terminal Market, and great, great granddaughter of one of Guatemala’s longest running rum distilleries.
Rum has been the flagship spirit of the Caribbean for going on 400 years thanks to the sugarcane fertility in this region of the Earth. Guatemala ranks as the second highest producer of sugarcane in the world making it an epicenter for rum distillery.
In the early days of rum consumption, it served as an antiseptic as well as a liquid reprieve from muscle pain. But as the fermentation and distilling process became more refined in the 18th and 19 century, it became a form of currency. Barrels of dark rum were traded for goods that aren’t native to the islands of the Caribbean.
Today, Sofia and the rest of the Tenango team aim to keep the fun of authentic Guatemalan rum alive by sourcing expertly aged dark rum from a vertically integrated distillery in southern Guatamala.
How It’s Made
The process of distilling rum hasn’t changed much over the last few centuries. In fact, it’s nearly identical to the whiskey distilling process save for the main ingredient used. Rather than using grain, rum is distilled from sugarcane.
Said sugarcane is first harvested from the plantation in Guatemala. To protect the production of rum to come and stay true to our dedication to sustainability, the sugarcane used in Tenango rum is harvested from the stem leaving the root to re-grow.
Through a routine extraction process including cutting and mashing of the sugarcane, a liquid molasses is pulled from the sugarcane. This sweet juice is then mixed together with water and the magic ingredient: yeast. As with other liquors, yeast is used to help the sugar ferment.
Then, the concoction is placed inside an American oak barrel to naturally ferment. For up to six years, these natural ingredients will come together to create a smooth sipping rum with delectable notes of chocolate, toffee, nut, and shortcake.
These dark and bold flavor profiles come from the American oak that the fermentation barrels are made of. The vanillin compounds of the American oak mixed with the inherent sweetness of the sugarcane creates a rich, candied experience for your taste buds.
Another Layer of Authenticity
In stepping up the rum game in America with our premium product, we’re also lifting up merchants and artists local to our distillery in Guatemala.
Picture this: It’s Friday night and you’ve just stepped into your favorite city bar. You’re craving something bold and flavorful, and your bartender pours you a Tenango rum on the rocks. As the sweet flavors of the rum tantalize your taste buds, your eyes will be drawn to the one-of-a-kind woven cover wrapping the bottle.
With Tenango, you’ll have the unique opportunity to learn about the roots of this rum unlike most other commercial spirits that come in sleek, unoriginal packaging. While these woven, reusable bottle covers are neat to look at, their main purpose is to incite curiosity and create a dialogue around the origins of the cover and the bottle beneath.
Preserving Guatemalan Art
Each bottle cover is hand woven at a co-op in the Totonicapan department of Guatemala. Here, you’ll find talented K’iche textile artists that have passed the art of weaving for generations stretching back to their Mayan ancestors.
The Maya textiles used in the weaving process are locally sourced and hand woven with the help of a telar de pie, or a foot loom. Patience and extreme attention to detail breeds beautiful, elaborate, and one-of-a-kind patterns that will hug our Tenango bottles.
Because another major point of passion for our team is fair pay, we pay out a portion of the proceeds for every bottle sold to the trade workers at the co-op. Rather than sourcing bottle covers from a major factor that pays native Guatemalans pennies on the dollar, we aim to embolden textile workers in Guatemala to stay tapped into their Mayan roots at fair trade prices.
The best part? These bottle covers are made to last. Reuse your woven bottle cover as a drink koozie or proudly display it as a conversation starter on your bar cart at home.
A Liquor for Any Occasion
When you think of a sipping liquor to have at the end of a long day at work or to kick off a night of fun, we at Tenango want you to think of us. We’ve seen the evolution of tequila and mezcal in terms of quality in the American bar scene. Gone are the days of plugging your nose and piling on the salt.
With our high-end Tenango dark rum, we envision a drinking experience sans Coca-Cola (like today’s good tequila is sans lime wedge), not because it’s not tasty but simply because it’s not necessary. We recommend a serving of rum poured directly over a glass of fresh ice while you kick back and enter an island state of mind.
All this isn’t to say that Tenango isn’t the perfect rum to add to your favorite cocktails. In fact, we believe that extra ingredients only make this perfectly blendable spirit better.
Play into the nutty notes of Tenango by mixing up a Painkiller which pairs our dark rum with pineapple and orange juices, cream of coconut, and nutmeg. Or, warm up in the winter with a hot buttered rum which is guaranteed to lift you out of any snowy slump.
Tenango is a good fit for any occasion, any season, and any flavor palate.
Tenango: Sustainable, Authentic, Premium
Tenango will first be available as a first-time buy opportunity for bars and restaurants in the Philadelphia community. Get ready for a rum experience like never before.