Aging rum using the Criadera & Solera System

The Dos Maderas ageing process is the same that has been transforming sherry and brandy in Jerez in Spain for centuries, and originated in this region. In this traditional Criadera & Solera system, a wine or spirit is gradually blended as it ages, resulting in unparalleled complexity and harmony.

¿How does the Criadera & Solera
system work?

The method makes use of a structure consisting of rows of casks – in this case, the same exceptional casks used by Williams & Humbert to age their sherries. Dos Maderas is aged in casks that have been used to mature either Palo Cortado or Pedro Ximénez sherry, and are nearly 100 years old. The particular sherry that a cask once housed has a significant impact on the finished rum.

In this structure, the most mature rums are found in the lowest solera level, and it’s from these casks that the rum is extracted for bottling. These are then replenished from the row of casks above them, and these in turn by the row above. A blend of five year old Caribbean rums from Guyana and Barbados is used to fill the top row.

 

The solera casks on the bottom row are never fully emptied. Remarkably, this means that every single bottle of Dos Maderas contains a small amount of rum from the very first batch.

In this structure, the most mature rums are found in the lowest solera level, and it’s from these casks that the rum is extracted for bottling. These are then replenished from the row of casks above them, and these in turn by the row above. A blend of five year old Caribbean rums from Guyana and Barbados is used to fill the top row.

 

The solera casks on the bottom row are never fully emptied. Remarkably, this means that every single bottle of Dos Maderas contains a small amount of rum from the very first batch.

In this structure, the most mature rums are found in the lowest solera level, and it’s from these casks that the rum is extracted for bottling. These are then replenished from the row of casks above them, and these in turn by the row above. A blend of five year old Caribbean rums from Guyana and Barbados is used to fill the top row.

 

The solera casks on the bottom row are never fully emptied. Remarkably, this means that every single bottle of Dos Maderas contains a small amount of rum from the very first batch.

criadera & solera system bodega aged rum

While this Criadera & Solera aging method is crucial to the final character of Dos Maderas, there are a multitude of other factors unique to its ageing in Spain that make these the remarkable rums that they are. The region’s climate, and the bodega’s microclimate, play an important role, much like the climate in the Caribbean has a significant impact. The unique architecture of Williams & Humbert’s bodega contributes towards this, and makes Dos Maderas very much a product of this particular place. Another climatic consideration is the set of distinctive winds that blow through the western Mediterranean sea – the Levante and Poniente.

criadera & solera system bodega aged rum

While this Criadera & Solera aging method is crucial to the final character of Dos Maderas, there are a multitude of other factors unique to its ageing in Spain that make these the remarkable rums that they are. The region’s climate, and the bodega’s microclimate, play an important role, much like the climate in the Caribbean has a significant impact. The unique architecture of Williams & Humbert’s bodega contributes towards this, and makes Dos Maderas very much a product of this particular place. Another climatic consideration is the set of distinctive winds that blow through the western Mediterranean sea – the Levante and Poniente.

The final impact on the flavor of Dos Maderas comes just before bottling, when master blender Paola Medina decides when the rums are ready, extracts them from the lowest level of casks, and expertly blends them together.

The final impact on the flavor of Dos Maderas comes just before bottling, when master blender Paola Medina decides when the rums are ready, extracts them from the lowest level of casks, and expertly blends them together.

The final impact on the flavor of Dos Maderas comes just before bottling, when master blender Paola Medina decides when the rums are ready, extracts them from the lowest level of casks, and expertly blends them together.

Palo Cortado
Aging rum with Palo Cortado Sherry

Palo Cortado is a prized and mysterious sherry that combines the best of other styles of the wines of Jerez.

 

This style of sherry occurs when a wine that was destined to become a delicate Fino instead shows characteristics of the more oxidized styles like Amontillado or Oloroso. Specifically, the film of yeast, or flor, that’s so particular to sherry ageing, and lighter styles in particular, gives way to allow for Palo Cortado to age in an oxidative way. To mark these casks, the cellar master will draw a crossed line (a palo cortado) on the cask.

 

When it comes to the exceptional Williams & Humbert Dos Cortados 20 Años, corrections to the wine in the form of added alcohol are marked with additional chalk lines, or dos cortados. Casks that have held this sherry for 20 years go on to age Dos Maderas 5+3, Dos Maderas 5+5 and Dos Maderas Selección, imparting the sherry’s expressive and intense character, with dried fruit notes and a bright, dry palate.

Pedro Ximénez
Aging rum in Pedro Ximénez casks

Pedro Ximénez is the sweetest style of sherry. This dark wine is made from Pedro Ximénez grapes that are turned into raisins by the Andalusian sunshine after being harvested. As this luscious, rich wine evolves, it develops even more complex and elegant flavors.

 

Like the casks used to age Palo Cortado, Pedro Ximénez casks are highly sought after by whisky makers around the world, who make use of them to add rich, sweet dried fruit notes to their spirits.

 

Williams & Humbert only use their finest Pedro Ximénez casks for the Criadera & Solera ageing of Dos Maderas. These previously held the bodega’s Don Guido Pedro Ximénez, named after the son of Williams & Humbert founder Alexander Williams. Don Guido was born in Jerez, but maintained the customs and traditions of his English ancestors.

 

Upon returning from the First World War he worked at the British embassy before rejoining the family business, and also remained British Vice-Consul until his death in 1959.

 

After 20 years of maturing this rich Pedro Ximénez sherry, it’s no surprise that these casks are rich with flavors of raisins and figs, which they impart to the rums aged in them: Dos Maderas 5+5, Selección and Luxus.