By Alexander Britell
There is an entry point for every rum aficionado.
Seldom does a rum lover begin his or her journey in the world of rum with a rare agricole, or a limited-batch hidden-cask expression.
There are rums like Bacardi 8 (the first rum I ever started to enjoy regularly, back when the choices at the bar were largely nonexistent) or Ron Zacapa, rums that are sufficiently widely distributed — and of high enough quality, that they give access — they are the gateway. They make people realize that rum is more than just an ingredient in a Cuba Libre.
Now, this is not to say that Ron Zacapa is not a fine rum — indeed, even many rum lovers consider it among their favorites.
But the rum world is still esoteric for many; the idea of “premium” rum still very much a nascent niche (one we have long been fighting to grow here at Rum Journal).
Another common entry point rum is Ron Diplomatico, a premium rum from Venezuela that is complex, sweet and well branded and often leads drinkers of other spirits to stop and say, “wait, rum tastes like this?”
Ron Diplomatico has, fairly or unfairly, become too sweet for some more enlightened rum drinkers, a rum with which to begin a rum journey but not one to take along the road.
Of course, this view can also lead to unfortunate rum snobbery — even if it’s too sweet for some, it can play a crucial rule in helping convert more drinkers from other spirits to rum — something that should not be ignored.
But Ron Diplomatico has been quietly expanding its portfolio, perhaps in a nod to these same critics.
The latest result is this: the Distillery collection, a range of rums made with specific stills that produce decidedly different expressions.
We recently tried the Diplomatico No. 2 Barbet, a rum made from the company’s Barbet copper column still that was brought to Diplomatico’s distillery in Venezuela in 1959, with the rum aged (although the aging duration is not provided) in American oak.
So what is it like?
The Diplomatico Barbet has a robust aroma of tangerine, spice and apricot, with a flavor profile marked by anise, orange peel and vanilla, with a hint of smokiness.
This isn’t as full-bodied as the brand’s most popular Reserva Exclusiva; it’s better balanced, with a rounder, velvety finish and even a hint of smokiness.
Yes, it’s still sweet, but decidedly less so. What it does have is Diplomatico’s trademark drinkability.
Diplomatico is an important rum brand, and sweetness is still very much a matter of taste. Let’s not forget that all of us who love rum began our journey with something we may not be drinking today. And some of us are still drinking it. Because everyone’s taste is different.
And if you’re at a bar in a city where rum is an unknown thing, and there’s Diplomatico at the bar, you’d take a Diplomatico every time. I know I would.
And as for the Diplomatico Barbet, this is a very good rum.
No matter where you are on your rum journey.
Rum Journal Rating: 90 Points