The Bacardi “Diez” – or, to give the rum its full title, the Bacardi Gran Reserva ”Diez” 10 Year Old Extra Rare Gold Rum – is the top of the trio of the company’s mid-level “kind-of” premium range. Below it are the old workhorses of the añejo, gold, blanco, black, superior and so on; in its playpen also reside the Cuatro and Ocho (and maybe the Reserva Limitada); and above it are the more exclusively minted bottles of the Facundo line – the Paraiso, Neo, Eximo and Exquisito (I am deliberately excluding the relatively new single barrel editions and the Single Cane series as they don’t neatly fall into consistent ranges).
Because of its reasonable (and subsidised) cost, and its decent profile, the Diez was a serious contender for the Key Rums tag which finally went to the Ocho; it didn’t only lose out because of availability, but because overall, I felt it just didn’t come to the table with everything a tropically aged ten year old should. Let’s go straight in and step it through its paces and I’ll try to explain.
The nose starts out reasonably warm, with baking spices (cinnamon, nutmeg), smoke, polished leather, some tannic bite and licorice blending nice. Some caramel ice cream, banana, coconut shavings, white chocolate a nice mix of tannic, bitter and sweet held together with the muskier (but faint) notes of toffee and brown sugar. It’s workmanlike, but nothing to excite. It’s like a better añejo, really, with some of the edges sanded off and better complexity (which would be the least of what we could expect).
Tastewise, nothing new, nothing exciting, nothing special. Just more of the same old thing, although admittedly quite well done. Vanilla and caramel and molasses lead the charge, with breakfast and baking spices hastening to bolster the centre. Leather, smoke and some light crisp fruits gallop around the flanks and are moving too quickly – here one minute gone the next – for any kind of serious engagement…they exist to be noticed but not to grapple with. Raisins, plums, some faint apples define the back end and a short and warm finish, and that’s what a ten year old under fifty bucks will get you.
The tech stats weren’t provided earlier in this review because I honestly didn’t think it was necessary: it’s well known that Bacardi’s rums are column still, short fermentation, light rums, whose taste profile comes primarily from expert barrel selection and blend management by the company’s legendary maestros roneros.The rum is a blend of rums aged a minimum of ten years, is 40% and really, were we expecting more? It’s main selling point may just be that price.
Let’s try to sum up. What we have here is a completely fine Bacardi rum, competently made, nicely aged, a decent Latin-style hooch, light, easy drinking, with some taste chops to write home about – even the slightly added dosage doesn’t detract from that, though I think it’s unnecessary, really. Any surprise would be if it wasn’t all those things, and it is indeed a ways above the made-for-the-mixing-proletariat Superior and Gold and Anejo that sell by the tanker load and keep Bacardi’s sales numbers flying high. On top of that, the Diez is demonstrably better than the 4YO “Cuatro”, addressing many of that young premium’s weaknesses: it is more complex, has more going on and seems more suited for the sipper’s glass.
What it doesn’t do is eclipse the solidity of the 8YO “Ocho” which also ticks many of the same boxes; moreover, the Diez seems content to go down the familiar path of “same but incrementally better,” and is hardly a serious upgrade from any of its junior brethren. The makers seem to have had no inclination to find new worlds to explore or new profiles to demonstrate, that would show some innovation, a willingness to go off the reservation, if only a little. I find that disappointing. There are enough standard-strength, standard-profiled, standard-priced rums in Bacardi’s stable, and in anyone’s corner shop. If you’re one of the biggest kids on the block, with over a century of experience behind you, you can surely do better than repeat the same old shtick with a new number.
- There are few other reviews for balance out there (even reddit is sparse on the ground here), but no shortage of votes and evaluations. The Rum Howler gave it 90.5 points in 2019; Vinepair’s staff rated it 91 points; two Tastings.com reviewers apparently scored it 94 points apiece in 2022 but since no names are provided and we have no idea who they are, I can’t comment further except to suggest they might do well to broaden their horizons; ¾ of the ratings on RumRatings were 7 out of 10 or better; 77 voters on Flaviar rated it an average of 8.2; and 42 users of Rum-X rated it an average of 70/100 (ouch). Paul Senft, writing for GotRum magazine in August 2019 (the only other full length review I could find), gave it a cautious endorsement while commenting he expected more, and would stick with the Ocho “for a more versatile experience.”
- It is recommended that you read the reviews of the Cuatro and Ocho for some background thoughts on this trio of Bacardi’s rums.
- The “nutrition” label on the website says it has 0.5 grams of sugar per serving of 1.5 ozs, which works out to about 11.3 g/L
- Rum tasted here was the 2009 edition.