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Charanda: The Mexican Rum From Uruapan Michoacan

  • Joel CZ 
  • 6 min read
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Charanda is the traditional spirit of the state of Michoacán in Uruapan and a fundamental element of Mexican gastronomy.

Its name refers to the site where the first sugarcane juice distillery was installed in the region: the Cerro de la Charanda, which in the Purépecha language means “red earth.”

The Charanda Michoacana is made from sugar cane harvested at an altitude of 1,500 meters above sea level.

In the center of the state, particularly in the vicinity of the city of Uruapan, sugar cane has been grown for centuries.

The average altitude of the area is 1,500 meters above sea level, which allows for a higher concentration of sugars in the cane, making it ideal for producing alcoholic beverages.

What is Charanda?

charanda
Charanda “El Tarasco”

Charanda is a colorless liquor similar to rum, although it has a sweeter flavor. It is a drink obtained from the fermentation and double distillation of sugar cane juice.

It is not a liqueur for beginners since its alcohol content varies from 50 to 55 percent, but its vanilla notes make it one of the country’s favorite regional drinks.

How is Charanda made?

Charanda is made by cold pressing the sugar cane to extract the juice. It is then fermented in copper stills and rectified musts or double distillation, obtaining a colorless liquor.

It can also undergo an additional aging process in oak barrels, thus obtaining a refined product with amber or blue tones.

The aging process of Charanda is done in oak barrels.

This liquor is offered commercially in three varieties: white, reposado, and añejo. In 2003, this aguardiente (spirit) was granted the Protected Designation of Origin label. Only the product made in 16 specific municipalities of Michoacán can bear the name Charanda, thus guaranteeing quality and preserving its heritage.

How to drink charanda

The traditional way to drink charanda is in a shot or as an aperitif, although it requires experience and a certain amount of courage.

Thanks to its similarity to rum, you can use it to substitute it in the most popular cocktail recipes. It is also recommended to mix it with fruit juices, sodas, and even with other liquors.

Charanda Mojito

charanda
Source: gresei / shutterstock.com

One of the drinks you can prepare with charanda is the mojito. Try it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Charanda
  • Sparkling water
  • 2 tablespoons of raw sugar
  • Crushed ice
  • Fresh mint
  • 1 lime

Process:

  • Put in a shaker glass two tablespoons of sugar, the juice of a lime, and mint leaves
  • Pour a splash of mineral water and mix the ingredients. Be sure to crush the mint leaves with a wooden stick to release their oil (very gently though, mint leaves are delicate and you don’t wanna make a “pesto” out of them)
  • Add some crushed ice and a measure, or if you dare, two, of charanda
  • Finally, fill the glass with more sparkling water

Uruapan Michoacan, more than Charanda

charanda
Source: Francky38 / shutterstock.com

Uruapan is located just two hours from Morelia. It is one of the most admirable places in Michoacán for its many cultural, natural, and historical attractions.

Few tourist destinations in Mexico have the charm of the city of Uruapan and its surroundings.

To understand how this site has developed, it is necessary to mention the Paricutin volcano, which started as a 30-meter fissure and devastated entire communities.

One of them was San Juan Parangaricutiro, which had 1895 inhabitants. Many of these people, faced with such a cataclysm, fled to the south of Uruapan and began a new social life.

As a consequence of this massive displacement, Uruapan is currently the second most populated community in Michoacán. It is also the gateway to the Paricutin tourist route.

What to see in Uruapan

vamonos to mexico
Remains of the old San Juan Church at Paricutin – Source: stacyarturogi / shutterstock.com

The best place to admire the panorama in Uruapan is a viewpoint located beyond the remains of the old San Juan church.

After contemplating the towns buried by the fury of Paricutin, it is a good idea to go to the antojitos (Mexican dishes) market to taste delicious avocados and corundas.

Behind the market is the Huatápera, a 16th-century construction recognized for being the oldest hospital in all of Latin America.

Something not to be missed for those who visit Uruapan, a true jewel of the state of Michoacán, is the Palm Sunday Artisan Market. You can buy handicrafts of great aesthetic value and utility in this traditional market at the best prices. Visiting this handicrafts market in Uruapan is an enjoyable experience.

For ecotourism enthusiasts, Uruapan also has many things to offer. For example, there are two remarkable waterfalls worth seeing, one of them is called Tzaráracua and the other, Tzararacuita.

They are stunning, ideal for beautiful photographs, and are located no more than 10 kilometers from Uruapan.

How to get to Uruapan

Leaving Mexico City, you have to head towards Toluca, on the “free road.” Then, from this point, you have to pass through Atlacomulco, Maravatio, Zinapecuaro, Patzcuaro, and finally, you arrive in the city of Uruapan. The trip takes approximately four and a half hours.

Interesting fact

Uruapan is home to the narrowest house on the planet. In fact, it is registered in the Guinness Book of Records. This curious construction is 1.40 x 7.70 meters.

Another outstanding fact refers to the Paricutín. There is no other case in science records around the world of a volcano that has been born, grown, and entered a phase of rest like this Michoacán volcano.

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