Rum is the basis of many of the most popular cocktails in the world, from piña coladas to mojitos. Not all rum is the same, though, with different methods and styles each adding their own flavors.
Cheddar News caught up with Alejandro Russo, the founder of Candela Mamajuana, to find out how his brand is trying to bring Dominican-style rum to the masses and why we should all be sipping on The Mamacita while the weather is warm  — especially on National Rum Day this Tuesday.

Tell me a little bit more about Candela Mamajuana. 

Candela is the finest expression of Mamajuana, which is the native and legendary spiced rum of the Dominican Republic. It's a drink that has hundreds of years of heritage, and we’re the first premium brand of Mamajuana to ever to come to the market.

So what makes Dominican rum different from other rums?

There are so many countries and islands that make fantastic rum, right? And every country has their own twist. The Dominican Republic is famous due to the quality of their sugarcane and the methods that they employ to produce it. Our rum is produced from fresh sugarcane juice and not molasses. For those that are not too familiar with rum, it’s like the difference of making an orange juice from concentrate as compared to a fresh-squeezed orange juice.
A lot of the mass market brands that you see in the market, they source their molasses from different parts of the world. All the sugarcane is grown in the same facility as where it's distilled in the Dominican Republic. Candela is as farm-to-bottle as it gets.

We're also very proud of the process, because all of this is powered by renewable energy. So all the byproducts of the sugarcane distilling process — when you pass sugarcane through a mill to press the juice — all of that gas and the excess sugarcane fiber is converted into energy. That energy is what powers our distillery.

How are you trying to elevate the perception of rum?

A lot of the most fun cocktails that we have at the finest occasions have to do with rum, right? If you're sipping a piña colada, a mojito, a daiquiri, a Hurricane, a Painkiller you can make all of these with rum, which is fantastic.
But rum is going through a little renaissance right now, and we want to be one of the brands that are spearheading this renaissance. Candela is the first spice rum designed to be sipped on the rocks by men, women, non-rum lovers, even beer drinkers. You wouldn't believe how many 55-year-old women that are going into the store to buy wine or rosé, and they try our product, and they get blown away. The quality of our rum is just velvet-smooth because of how it's made.

What qualities should people look for when tasting rum?

Rum is my favorite spirit, and there are so many amazing options. If you're new to the rum game, look for origin. A rum from the Dominican Republic will taste very different from a rum from Haiti, Jamaica, or Barbados. Always pay attention to the ingredients: is it distilled from fresh sugarcane juice or from molasses? Is it estate-grown? Single-origin or a blend? Is it flavored or spiced in any way? All these factors can significantly change how you experience rum.
But above all, never forget that rum is meant for fun! It's the quintessential summer drink. So whatever rum you're drinking, remember to have fun and enjoy!

What is your cocktail of the summer?

The drink of the summer is The Mamacita, which is Candela Mamajuana and grapefruit soda — I use Fever-Tree — over ice. Overnight, this quickly became my favorite summer drink. It's just so easy to make and so refreshing! It's the perfect poolside drink. It's definitely a crowd-pleaser.


2 oz. Candela Mamajuana
4 oz. Grapefruit Soda
Garnish with slice of grapefruit
Shake or stir ingredients together and serve.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.