Brand: El Amparo

Origin: Carlos Baque Zorrilla, Jipijapa, Manabi, Ecuador

Still: Pot

Age: Unaged

Finish: n/a

ABV: 57.5%

Today's review subject comes from Ecuador– an origin we don't often see in many rums. La Maison & Velier sought to change that with El Amparo, an unaged aguardiente from the South American country.

El Amparo ("the shelter") is distilled in Jipijapa– a town not far from the Pacific coast– by Carlos Baque Zorrilla, the third generation manager of the distillery. Carlos uses the Cubana Negra sugar cane varietal, and utilizes 5-7 days of wild fermentation. The rum is produced when this fermented cane juice is put through a 500 liter alembic pot still; it is bottled at still strength of 57.5% ABV.

This is the first Ecuadorian rum I have tried, and I'm excited to see La Maison & Velier continue to highlight locally celebrated spirits to a wider audience.


Clear, low viscosity


Manzanilla olives, gherkin pickle brine, wet grass, sugarcane, lemon zest


Mixed olive brine, sugarcane, pickle brine, herbs (sage, basil, bay leaf), menthol


Medium, herbaceous; basil, bay leaf, menthol, sugarcane, black olive brine

Rating: 8/10


El Amparo is one of those rums that when you try it, you either don't like it, or you need multiple trips to the glass to really parse through it. It exudes characteristics that I'd compare to Grogue, while forging its own path in the ever-growing space of strong, unaged, cane juice-based rums.

The entire experience from nosing to finish is pervaded by brines of all stripes– pickle, green olive, black olive– as well as grassiness, menthol, and herbs like sage, basil, and bay leaf. It's sneaky, because at first you're met with some expected aguardiente notes like sugarcane and brine, but then get hit with the herbs, cooling menthol, and even a touch of lemon zest.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes aguardientes/clairin/rhum agricole, and wants a bottle that throws a bit of a curveball to the enjoyer. I have yet to try this in any cocktails, but I'd imagine it would bring its own unique spin to classics that call for sugarcane juice rums like the Ti' Punch or Doctor Funk.

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