Mar 262013
 

A puzzlingly schizophrenic rum – I can’t quite make up my mind about how good it is: an undistinguished bottle containing a so-so tasting rum with both a lovely nose and a finish to savour. I’m going to go back to this one, for sure, just to nail my opinion down more precisely.

(#078. 79/100)

***

The Diplomatico Anejo I had on the night of the last Liquorature club was one of those weird rums that I couldn’t quite categorize, because it had both good elements I liked and others by which I wasn’t entirely enthralled. However, I had quite a bit of it, so who’s to say that’s a bad thing?

Presented to Liquorature by the same gent who introduced us to the 15 year old Diplomatico Gran Reserva, the Anejo is distilled by the same Venezuelan concern that makes that version – this was merely a younger iteration, having no age statement on the bottle. It also had the rather grandiose statement that it was the Rare Rum of the Caribbean on it, and as a member of the Caribbean diaspora myself, I can tell you that there’s a misnomer if I ever heard one, since not only are there no shortages of rums (rare or otherwise) in the area, but Venezuela, while having a fairly extensive Caribbean beachfront, is not considered culturally a part of De Islands, being more akin to Latin America.  I mean, when was the last time you ever heard of a Venezuelan soca competition, a Veno steel pan band, or their local cricket team?

Bottle appearance?  Utterly average, nothing fancy – solidly seated plastic cap, though, which I liked (at least it wasn’t some cheap tinfoil screw-on). The Hippie stayed silent on this one (remember his childish exuberance with the postage stamp design of the Gran Reserva?) but did partake of a nip or two.

Nose was soft, a little fruity – peaches and soft fleshy types, with a bananas hint emerging reluctantly after a bit; and a vanilla scent which I liked.  Not much in the way of a sting to your snoot, so you’d probably like this one on that level alone. No real complexity there, though.

I said the bottle appearance was utterly average.  The taste, to me, was medium everything. Like Bacardi, it excelled at nothing while being average at everything. It’s almost like the Corolla or Civic of rums. I mean, there was almost nothing out of the ordinary for which to award points or deduct them – the body was medium; the taste was sweet, but not too much so, with neutral smoothness, a taste that lingered on, not too short, not too long, and which had a slightly thicker character that (I swear) tasted of unsweetened chocolate; and there was an odd briny note, a tang of the sea, that I found odd but in no ways unpleasant.

If I was indifferent to the appearance and taste, let me wax somewhat more ebullient on the fade, which was excellent. Soft; smooth, elegant, long lasting. A taste of grapes a little ripe but not as cloying as the Legendario’s muscatel reek, wafted up and stayed in the mind.

On occasion, I’ve been given a hard time by mon pere for not always expressing an unequivocal opinion (he really must love Ebert’s thumb, honestly), and rereading the above I see I’ve done it again. So here goes: I think this is a surprisingly good rum, with elements that make me believe the blender wasn’t too sure what he wanted. I’d mix it or sip it (the latter perhaps with a cube of ice), but what it really makes me want to do is go back to the Gran Reserva: I didn’t have a rating system when I reviewed it back then, but the good and bad of this lower-tiered product from Venezuela makes me want to return and give the other one a more thorough evaluation.

 

 

Mar 232013
 

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum from Venezuela

 

First posted 9th March 2010 on Liquorature.

(#017. Unscored)

***

For some reason, the Last Hippie was absolutely enthralled by the label design* of this Venezuelan import when Pat trotted it out for the February 2010 get-together, rhapsodically comparing it to a postage stamp, nearly swooning over the originality of it all. It was the first time I ever saw a label nearly bring a Peathead over to the Light and have a shot of the good stuff, but it fell just short of the mark, alas and perhaps embarassed by his untoward display of emotion, he retreated to the other scottish brews for the rest of the night.

Diplomatica Exclusiva Reserva is a premium aged rum – indeed, the top of the line – made by the Venezuelan firm of Destilerias Unidas…which is now privately held, and a major supplier of raw spirit stock to Seagram.  The research is unclear: either one of the original owners, or Seagram, built a factory in the small town of la Miel, close to the Columbian border, in the 1950s, was for many years the only factor in northern SA and the Caribbean to make both cane and grain based spirits: even now,  this one factory makes whiskeys, vodkas, liquers, gin…and Smirnoff Ice.  (Looking at the location on the map, one wonders why it had to be so remote…I mean, this town is really far away from  anything).

Interestingly, the blend is made from a combination of heavy pot-still rum (80%) and column still rum (20%).  The rums are separately aged in white-oak barrels and then blended together to produce the final product which is a rich and textured dark rum of admirable complexity and taste for the modest price. The website also makes tangential mention of flavouring additives (“Only … rich aromas and flavours are used to manufacture rums…”) which statement I include for completeness, and to contrast it against the majority of rum producers who couldn’t be bothered (to their detriment, I think).

The nearly opaque bottle effectively disguises a copper-brown coloured rum that is medium-heavy bodied and of middle density, and with a distinctive taste.  The caramel and vanilla notes on the nose mellow gently into a very nice taste of burnt sugar, sweet molasses (not much), perhaps cream soda and…butterscotch.  And yet, it’s not overly sweet either. Very slightly ‘oily’, leading to a long, semi-sweet finish that everyone who tried liked.  Definitely top tier stuff, and fully desrving to be had without embellishment of any kind.  Which is not to say it can’t be used as a mixer but it doesn’t need to be.

And quite frankly, I don’t think it should be

* The label is a portrait of Mr. Don Juancho Nieto Melendez de Hacienda Botucal, a famous Venezuelan historical personage (and of impeccably ancient Iberian lineage) who acted as an ambassador for Venzuelan spirits in the 19th century, and noted as a collector of top-shelf liquors of all kinds. If my translation of the spanish web page is right, it was he who encouraged the making of spirits from the area around la Miel, because of the naturally filtered water, and the high quality of sugar cane grown there.

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