Manuel Quevedo Alemán, who was said to be a man ahead of his time, founded the Ron Aldea Distillery in 1936 in the municipality of La Aldea de San Nicolás de Tolentino, on the island of Gran Canaria.
Quevedo was born not far from the distillery, in the municipality of Arucas. As a young man, he left to Cuba and then moved on to Santo Domingo. In both lands he held posts in all areas of the sugar mill business.
After returning from the West Indies in the beginning of the 20th century, he worked in the shadow of his father and his uncle, José Alemán, who was the owner of the sugar refinery of Bañaderos. Later on he became the manager of an important refinery in the town of Guía in Gran Canaria, which was purchased in 1909 by an English businessman named Mr. Leacock. At the age of 37, Quevedo was more than a well known expert in the sugar and rum business.
Under the management of Quevedo, the refinery was working at full capacity for about four years until the consequences of the Great War were more than evident. In 1916 the production was practically stagnant, which resulted in the closure and subsequent sale of the refinery in 1919 to the Portuguese financier Enrique Figueroa Dasilva, who took the main equipment and Quevedo with him to the Island of Madeira, Portugal. The move coincided with the end of the second sugar cane era on the Canary Islands, where all the main sugar factories had closed down by 1920.
Quevedo and his family stayed in Madeira for 15 years (1919 to 1934), where he was the manager of the sugar factory in Sao Felipe (Funchal), owned by Figueroa Dasilva. During this time, Quevedo continued to broaden his knowledge in the distillation of aguardiente, an alcoholic beverage which he made of sugar cane.
After Figueroa Dasilva filed for bankruptcy in 1934, Manuel Quevedo had to return to the Canary Islands with his family. Due to his accumulated experience and his wish to continue working in the world of sugar and its distillation, Quevedo started a new project, the Ron Aldea distillery, which opened its doors in 1936, marking the beginning of a new sugar cane era on the Canary Islands.
Quevedo distinguishes his production process from most international competitors by using an uncommon method: the direct distillation of the sugar cane juice. Aguardiente from the main sugar-producing regions of the world was and still is distilled from molasses, a residual byproduct of sugar, which allows to get the most out of the raw material.
The choice to distill the sugar cane juice -also called guarapo, which is produced by crushing or milling the cane - instead of molasses allowed Quevedo to preserve the purity of taste, aroma and sweetness of the sugar cane.
The production volume of the Ron Aldea Distillery increased over the following years as local farmers slowly began to see the potential of sugar cane as an alternative to fight the growing crisis of the export agriculture (which its leading product was tomatoes). At the end of the 40s and the early 50s, the production volume exceeded 200,000 liters for a single crop.
Between 1954 and 1956 the distillery changed ownership and was acquired by the Rodríguez Quintana Agricultural Society, which carried out a profound renovation of the industry by constructing a new building and storage facilities, as well as acquiring a new still and tanks. However, they kept Quevedo as Technical Director. This new company sold rum under the commercial name Ron del Charco.
Around this time there was a notable decline in the local production of sugar cane because of the strong competition of tomato producers, making it necessary to import the raw material from outside the municipality of La Aldea, even from other islands. Finally, the distillery was forced to close down around 1960.
RON ALDEA IN LA PALMA
Following the sale of the distillery in the late 1950s, the son of Manuel Quevedo, Carmelo, moved to the island of La Palma, bringing with him the rights to the Ron
Aldea brand and starting a second cycle in the history and production of this rum.
Some years later, in 1969, one of Carmelo's sons, José Manuel Quevedo Hernández, also moved to La Palma to continue the family history. Today, José Manuel, joined by his sons (the fourth generation), are keeping alive the spirit of the early master rum distillers.