A part of Grupo Pellas, Compañia Licorera de Nicaragua, SA was founded in 1937 to produce and market the Flor de Caña brand of rums. Utilizing molasses from the largest sugar mill in Nicaragua as the fermentable sugar source, a variety of alcohol products are distilled in Nicaragua and at a smaller distillery in Honduras.
In 1996, an extensive distillery upgrade was completed which led to Compañia Licorera de Nicaragua being the first distillery in the world to be granted the ISO-9002 certification. Today a modern three-column still is used to make rum marketed under the Flor de Caña label. Bulk rum is also sold to bottlers in Europe.
The modern design of the distillery and it's close proximity to the Ingenio San Antonio sugar mill in Chichigalpa, about 120 km from the capital of Managua, allows the distillery to take advantage of a consistent source of molasses made from sugar cane grown on the estate or bought from contract farmers who grow their cane within a few miles of the sugar mill. A state-of-the-art biogas generator produces methane which is used to make steam for the distillation process. CO2 is collected from the fermentation process, cleaned and sold to local industrial gas consumers including the Coca-Cola bottling company. When I visited Compañia Licorera de Nicaragua in 2008, this was the most environmentally conscious distillery I had had the pleasure of visiting to date.
Compañia Licorera de Nicaragua, or Flor de Caña, as they are known produces a variety of sugar cane spirits including aguadiente and highly distilled white rum for the local market as well as a range of aged rums bottled under the Flor de Caña label for the domestic and international market. The minimum age of Flor de Caña rums is four years. They also bottle 5, 7, 12, 15 and 18 year old rums. Unlike most other distilleries, each of these products is distilled to exacting specifications and then aged in charred oak barrels previously used to age Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey. During the aging process the barrels are refilled each year from barrels from the same batch. Once matured the aged rum is batched, filtered and then bottled. All of the rum under each of the labels has been aged the same number of years and can be identified by the age statement on the label. Each of the Flor de Caña rums is unique in character and flavor. Rums bottled for the domestic market are bottled at 35% abv and those for the US market are bottled at 40% abv.
Presently about 40% of the sugar cane milled at the San Antonio sugar mill is burned in the fields before it is milled. Burning the cane greatly reduces the labor required to work in the fields. Insects, snakes and the sharp leaves of the sugar cane make manually cutting sugar cane an arduous job. In the future ethanol-powered machinery will allow the crop to be harvested without burning the fields further reducing the environmental impact.
At the sugar mill, during the cane harvest, about six months a year, high-efficiency boilers burn the bagasse producing high pressure steam to generate in excess of 50 megawatts of electricity. The rest of the year, eucalyptus trees fuel the power generation plant reducing the country's dependence on foreign oil and creating jobs in Nicaragua.
The 1980s and 90s were turbulent years in Nicaraguan history during which time Compañia Licorera de Nicaragua was able to maintain production and put away rum in oak casks so that today they have one of the largest stores of aged rum in the world.
In 2001, Rum Marketing International was launched in Miami, Florida to market Flor de Caña rums around the world.