By Alexander Britell
There’s a certain kind of rum you can’t enjoy.
It’s the rum that your bar doesn’t serve.
Years ago — and even today, rum lovers still face a rather small selection in even some of the best bars in cities across the United States and the wider world.
Yes, that’s changing, happily, as rum continues to see its position — and esteem — elevate.
But it’s still a handful of rum producers and brands that have managed to marry consumer satisfaction with broad enough distribution to the point that you can expect to find them at better bars and restaurants.
But these rums, like Ron Diplomatico, Ron Zacapa and, increasingly, Plantation (along with Bacardi’s 8 and 10 expressions) and Brugal, also serve a far more important purpose.
They are ambassadors for the spirit, there to remind that rum is not just Captain Morgan, not just white Bacardi, not something exclusively meant for a marriage with a can of soda.
And that — for all of the conversation over added sugar and classification issues — is still easily the biggest hurdle to rum’s real arrival as a premium product.
And Ron Diplomatico, the fast-growing rum brand from Venezuela, is at the forefront of that push, led by its highly popular Reserva Exclusiva (the one in the green bottle).
It’s a favorite of many rum lovers and, perhaps more importantly, an instant hit with rum neophytes — the ones whose conversion is essential for the growth of the spirit.
Because let’s be honest — nobody is going from drinking vodka or bourbon straight to 30-year-old bottlings from lost Caribbean distilleries, as wonderful as they are. (Food for thought: Before there was Patron, could Mezcal have ever become a hit?).
But Diplomatico, a rum that does have a sweeter flavor profile (yes, there’s a bit of added sugar via dosage a la cognac or champagne or untold numbers of other rums), has a new series that is aimed at the already initiated, at rum lovers, the ones for whom Diplomatico may have been an early first love, or whose rum shelf has gotten larger.
Diplomatico, you see, makes its rums from a unique combination of three separate stills: pot, column and batch, the distillates of which are then separately aged and then blended to turn into the final product.
The new Distillery Collection includes a rum from its batch kettle still; a second from its “barbet” French column still, and now, finally, the third, a pot-still rum I was able to try at a clinic by Diplomatico Master Blender Nelson Hernandez at Prime Cigar in Miami this week.
And the new expression is easily the best of the lot.
Like its sister rums, it’s distilled from sugar cane honey; but this one is aged in American white oak for eight years.
The result is a dark, brown-amber rum with an aroma of honey, brown sugar and caramel.
This is a luxurious, velvety rum, with notes of leather, coffee, tobacco, dried mango and black pepper.
It’s so good, I’d love to see a further-aged expression.
There’s a bit of a fiery edge, a richness and a boldness. And no, there’s no dosage here – this is from the barrel to your glass.
And even better? It’ll likely be one you can soon find in your bar.
Rum Journal Review