Destilería Unidas S.A.

The Destilería Unidas S.A. distillery, or DUSA for short, was founded in 1959 after a merger of serveral Venezuelan producers and distributors of alcoholic beverages. Seagram was a majority shareholder of what was then known as Licorerias Unidas S.A., or LUSA. It was designed to not only produce rum, but also supply the local market of vodka, whisky, gin and other alcoholic beverages.

After the implosion of Seagram’s in 2001, the distillery was briefly owned by Diageo and Pernod Ricard, until it was privatised in 2002 by José R. Ballesteros Melendez and renamed to DUSA. To this day, DUSA produces Diageo’s Cacique and Pampero brands of rum.

The DUSA plant covers about 12 hectares and has a production capacity of around 72 million liters per annum.

Neighboring the distillery is a government owned rice plant, part of their produce is also used for distilling at DUSA.

The rums produced at DUSA are made from both sugar cane molasses and sugar cane honey. The first being used for lighter styles, while the later produces a heavier style of distillate. Molasses used by DUSA have a sugar content between 48% and 52%. Because the Venezuelan sugar prices are set by the government, producers can get more money by supplying DUSA rather than processing the sugar. The sugar cane honey has a sugar content of around 60%.

The molasses are fermented in 24 – 28 tonne batches in one of 14 tanks used exclusively for rum production. (There are 4 more tanks used for cereals) For fermentation, DUSA uses it’s own proprietary yeast strain originally developed by Seagram’s. The heat during fermentation is held at around 30-32°C by using water-cooled pipes on the inside of the tanks. Depending on the style of rum, fermentation can last from about 24 hours for a light rum to 48 hours for a heavier, sugar cane honey based rum. After fermentation, the wash has an alcohol level of 7-8%.

For the lighter styles of rum, the yeast is recovered via a centrifuge to be reused. Heavier rums are distilled with the yeast still present.

All rums are first distilled using column stills, although the lighter styles use a different still than the heavier ones. The water used during distillation is used fertilizer on DUSA’s own sugar cane fields.

For lighter rums, the second distillation happens once again in column stills, which are fully computer-controlled. The end product is has a strength of around 96% ABV.

Heavy rums are distilled in copper pot stills with two retort chambers. These chambers are filled with leftovers from a previous distillation in order to achieve a higher alcohol percentage. The end distillate is around 81% ABV.

DUSA also has a batch kettle, known as still No. 700. The batch kettle is a cylinder lying on it’s side, which is heated by internal steam pipes. The end result is, just like with the light rum, a distillate of 96% ABV.

According to Venezuelan law, rum must be aged for at least 2 years in American white oak casks. Like most distilleries, DUSA mainly uses ex-bourbon casks, although sherry casks also represent a small percentage of the 21 warehouses. These are, among others, used to finish the rum intended for Diplomático’s Single Vintage and Ambassador products.

DUSA has an on-site bottling hall. Prior to bottling, the rums are diluted to their bottling strength using demineralized water, and filtered at a temperature between 0-3°C. This is said to be the filtration necessary in order for the rum not to turn cloudy in colder climates, but minimizing the removal of flavor and texture.

Tasting Notes

La Maison Du Rhum – Venezuela – Batch 03