La Hechicera, the ultra-premium rum from Colombia, celebrates 10 years in the UK this year. Laura Riascos and brother Miguel Riascos of the long-established spirit-producing Riascos family co-hosted a party with Velvet Bar by Salvatore Calabrese on the first night of London Cocktail Week 2023. They flew over a guest bartending team from Alquímico Cartagena, Colombia, ninth in the overall World’s 50 Best Bars, and the Best Bar in South America 2022 and 2023 — what a way to celebrate!
We caught up with Laura Riascos to find out all about La Hechicera fine aged rum.
How did it all start?
I have grown up with rum. It was part of our family business, and I had always dreamed of taking up the challenge to create the ultimate fine-aged rum. My brother Miguel and I launched La Hechicera in 2012, and we introduced it to the UK as its first export market in 2013. We named it La Hechicera, which means ‘The Enchantress’. I was living in London and was familiar with the vibrant premium dining and nightlife scene which I enjoyed exploring.
Tell us about La Hechicera and what makes this rum special.
Our multi-award-winning La Hechicera is a fine, aged rum from Colombia’s only family-run rum company. We span three generations of rum-making heritage. It is deliciously dry, characterful, woody and beautifully smooth rum. We created it to reflect the incredible richness of Colombia’s biodiverse landscape and culture for all to savour. The unique craftsmanship of La Hechicera Reserva Familiar makes it one of the world’s top high-end rums. This blend of rums with no added sugar is aged in ex-bourbon barrels made of American white oak.
What makes Colombia better than the rest of the world when it comes to producing rum?
Colombia has a rich heritage and tradition when it comes to producing rum given its strategic location in the South Caribbean. However incredible rum can be produced only with the accumulated knowledge and expertise that ensures a high level of craftsmanship in the blending and ageing process. This is something my family understands very well.
What food works well with La Hechicera?
La Hechicera has complex flavours and a rich character, and it can pair beautifully with a wide range of foods. The depth and nuances of aged rum can complement or contrast with various dishes. In Colombia, we like to have rum before a meal as an aperitif, and after the meal with a chocolate dessert.
Can sustainability in spirits ever become the norm?
Sustainability in the spirits industry is not only possible but is gradually becoming a more central consideration for producers and consumers alike. With the combined efforts of consumers, producers and regulators, it can very well become the norm in the future.
When it comes to creating La Hechicera, what do you do at home to train your nose, palate and senses to be the best they can be?
Whiffing coffee beans, savouring dark chocolate and serenading my spices; it’s all in a day’s sensory workout! But sleeping is key. You can never get enough sleep to reset your brain and keep your sensory organs in good shape.
What kind of cocktails does La Hechicera work well in?
La Hechicera is a wonderful, sophisticated rum to enjoy neat or on ice. For fans of cocktails, it works well in Old Fashioned and Manhattan style serves. For our 10th anniversary party, our bartending team created some exclusive new cocktails featuring La Hechicera Reserva Familiar and our limited edition Serie Experimental No. 2, naturally infused with organic bananas. We enjoyed experimenting with exotic ingredients such as iguaraya (cactus flower) through cold brew coffee to reflect the incredible richness of Colombia’s biodiverse landscape and culture.
If you could award a Michelin star for mixology right now, who would it be and why?
Alquimico Bar in Cartagena Colombia for the win! Their mastery in blending local ingredients with modern techniques is unparalleled. Every sip tells a story of Colombian heritage with a twist of innovation, and they have rescued so many ingredients from falling into oblivion thus building a modern and fresh version of Colombian culture and identity.
What is next for La Hechicera?
It has been quite a decade. Pernod Ricard acquired a majority stake in La Hechicera in March 2021, and the brand now benefits from its international distribution network to reach new trade customers and consumers worldwide. For me, it means plenty of international travelling, tasting sessions, visits to bar customers and hosting events to create a memorable showcase and immerse La Hechicera drinkers in our Colombian culture. London is now home for me and my family, and I am delighted to see La Hechicera being stocked in more and more top bars in UK cities too.
About La Hechicera
– Serie Experimental No.1: Muscat cask matured — Aged in white oak casks that were filled to the brim with the finest muscat wine. Nearly sold out.
– Serie Experimental No.2: sun-dried banana infused — Matured in white oak casks, generously infused with organic banana flesh.
Both have a guide retail price of £57. Shop and online stockists include Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Waitrose Cellar, Amathus, House of Malt, Master of Malt, The Whisky Exchange, Ocado and Amazon. La Hechicera is also stocked by many top bars around the UK.
To discover more, visit: lahechicera.co
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All imagery courtesy of La Hechicera / Laura Riascos.