Interview of Léonard Gonzalez, Brugal rum Ambassador

5 April 2023 | Interviews & Meetings
Interview of Léonard Gonzalez, Brugal rum Ambassador

While waiting for the new references of Brugal rums for the year 2023, the Ambassador tells us about this family business founded in 1888

Hello Léonard, thank you for granting an interview to Excellence Rhum. Can you briefly present the Brugal brand, its history and what it represents in the Dominican Republic?

Hello Matthieu, thank you for inviting me to the Excellence Rhum blog.

As soon as you arrive in the Dominican Republic, it is impressive to see the importance of Brugal in the Dominican landscape as well as in their history. From the airport to downtown Santo Domingo, the Brugal family is present everywhere. Every Dominican has an anecdote about Brugal, which makes it THE Rum reference in the area.

The brand was created by Don Andres Brugal 130 years ago. The Brugal family was a pioneer in the production of rums in the Dominican Republic. As early as 1888, it was one of the first to build its own cellars in the country to age its rum. For five generations, the attention paid to the ageing and blending of Brugal rums has been perpetuated, transmitted by the family cellar masters.

To realize the importance of this distillery, how many barrels does it have and what is its annual production?

The Brugal distillery is located in the south of the Dominican Republic, in San Pedro de Macoris. The cellars are in the north, in Puerto Plata. We have many cellars that contain around 150,000 barrels.

Production will vary greatly from year to year.

Brugal has two Maestro Roneros. Can you introduce them to us? What is the role of a Maestro Ronero at Brugal?

Since 2011, Jassil Villanueva and Gustavo Ortega represent this fifth generation of "Maestros Roneros" of the family of the founder Don Andres Brugal.

First woman "Maestra Ronera" of Brugal and the Dominican Republic, Jassil Villanueva brings advanced skills related to the selection and aging in Sherry Oloroso barrels and thus offers Brugal new perspectives. She oversees all aspects of rum production and in particular the aging process so important in the development of Brugal rums. After years of barrel selection and maturation trials with Gustavo, she is now developing Brugal 1888 rum.

Gustavo Ortega et Jassil Villanueva, Mastro Roneros chez Brugal
The Brugal 1888 is the brand's flagship reference. How is it produced and what flavor profile does it provide?

Brugal 1888 is a molasses rum resulting from a double maturation. That is to say, it is aged consecutively in two different barrels, for a minimum of 10 years in our case.

Each of the American ex-bourbon white oak barrels and the European Sherry Oloroso oak barrels used for Brugal 1888 is thus studied and chosen to bring an aromatic richness as well as a perfectly balanced woodiness to the rum. This double maturation process illustrates this perpetual search for perfection. Sourced from Jerez, Spain, the Oloroso Sherry casks are among the most exclusive in the world and bring a richer profile to the rum and new aromas such as red fruits and dried fruits.

Brugal 1888 is a round, rich and perfectly balanced rum. It has woody and gourmet aromas, with natural notes of spices, without being too sweet. On the palate, it is balanced and velvety, with soft aromas of vanilla and caramel, counterbalanced by peach, cocoa and clove. The finish on the palate is remarkably long and elegant, with a hint of honey.

Interview by

Matthieu Lange
Conseiller en spiritueux