Gran Canaria drinks a lot of rum but hasn't managed to produce a quality premium spirit until recently. Thankfully, the island distillery has now responded to competition from a smaller rival and made a quality white rum that is eminently sippable and mixable.
The big Arucas distillery, known as the Fabrica de Ron, owns the Arehucas brand and Ron de Telde in Gran Canaria, along with most other brands of Canary Islands rum both white and brown. Most are cheap and cheerful, made to be mixed with cola and plenty of ice (the lemon slice is optional). The brown colour of basic rums comes mainly from caramel rather than years in a barrel. Most of the raw meterials come from South Africa.
The big exception to the mass market is the Ron La Aldea brand which used to be based in La Aldea in west Gran Canaria. It moved to La Palma many years ago whern Gran Canaria stopped growing enough sugar cane to support it.
It has remained independent and still produces La Aldea Blanca, w white rum we regard as the best basic white rum in the Canary Islands. It also makes La Aldea Pura Caña, a premium white rum made with the alcohol from fermented cane juice rather than molasses or sugar. This is in the style of French Caribbean Rhum Agricole and Brazilian Cachaça rather than Spanish Caribean Ron or British Caribbean Rum. Cane juice rum has a harbal or grassy taste and a richer flavour profile.
La Aldea Pura Caña was the go-to rum for Canary Islands bartenders making decent rum cocktails with local white rum. Until now...
Zafiro is a premium white rum made from fermented and distilled sugar cane juice from cane grown in Gran Canaria close to the Arucas distillery.
It is smooth, slightly sweet and herbal; tasty enough to be sipped on its own. It also makes for excellent Cuba Libres (cubatas) anad rum cocktails. You need less of it in a drink to taste the rum which helps you stay standing for longer at carnival.
Zafiro is the white rum that complements Arehucas' premium Family Selection of 12 and 18-year old golden rums. Gran Canaria Info will, in the name of research, be testing these as soon as possible and comparing them to the equivalent rums from La Aldea.
Ron Zafiro retails for 18 euros a bottle and is well worth the extra few euros on top of the price of a standard bottle of white Arehucas.
Visitors to Gran Canaria often ask whether it is better to exchange their local currency for euros at home or in Gran Canaria.
The answer is that it is almost always better to buy your euros at home than it is to bring pounds to Gran Canaria and use local banks or currency exchanges. This rule of thumb applies all over the world. A currency is almost always cheaper the further away you are from the place you can spend it (because demand for it is lower).
You are very likely to get a better exchange rate using a British currency exchange specialist or local bank. Many of these companies will deliver your euros to your home.
One of the best rates in the UK is often from the post office, especially if you do it well in advance.
The only way you'll get a better rate in Gran Canaria than at home is if the exchange rate changes while you are travelling and this is rare.
You also have to bear in mind that currency exchanges in Gran Canaria are getting rarer and some local banks don't exchange money for non-clients.
To Transfer large amouynts of money to Gran Canaria, or to make regular transfers, always use a reputable currency broker such as Currencies Direct. This will save you money on exchange rates and bank charges and is highky secure.
Another important factor to consider is the risk of bringing cash to Gran Canaria: If it is lost or stolen, there is no way of getting it back.
It is much safer to bring a debit or credit card and use local bank ATMs to take out money. These days, a good option is a pre-charged debit card.
Cards may be slightly more expensive that carrying cash, unless you seek out a bank card with low commissions, but it is much more secure.
Bank ATMs like Bankia, Santander and BBVA often charge lower rates than the ATMs in shopping centres and busy tourist areas.
Alex Says: Always select the Euro option at ATMs in Gran Canaria because the exchange rate is much better than if you opt for the Local Currency option. The same applies when you pay by card in shops and restaurants.
See our Gran Canaria Tips section for more nuggets of useful local information.
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