When You Run Out of Wine: Rum for a Change

 


Have you discovered the joys of sipping your rum neat, or are you only mixing it into cocktails? Both are certainly delicious ways to enjoy rum. However if you’re not yet familiar with expressions that can be sipped much like one would scotch you’re missing out. I recently returned from spending some time in Venezuela visiting Diplomático, one of the world’s leading rum producers. Over a few days I toured their production facility and farm where they grow sugar cane. In addition to making delicious, world class expressions of rum, Diplomático is also doing things the right way. Some producers doctor their rum and what ends up in the bottle isn’t a pure expression, this isn’t the case with Diplomático. On top of that their farm and distillery are run sustainably. All of the waste from turning sugar cane into rum is treated and turned back into the field as a fertilizer. They even share the treated waste with neighbor farms. Diplomático also supplies the power to run their facilities. Other spirits are produced on the property as well, but the lineup of rums is the core of their operation.
During my time in Venezuela I drank cocktails of all sorts and tasted each of their rums neat as well. I did this both with and without food; their rums work well in each setting. The highlight, for me, of a wonderful time in Venezuela was a side by side of their four sipping rums. Tasting these along with their Master Blender Tito Cordero was eye-opening, educational and a great pleasure.
 
This is the entry level offering in Diplomático’s quartet of sipping rums. Black fig and subtle bits of banana appear on the nose. Toasted hazelnut, dates, and a pure blast of molasses fill out the lovely palate. Vanilla bean, roasted coffee and dried plum flavors are evident on the above average finish.  There are very few rums on the market that can compete on price and quality here. It’s inexpensive enough that you won’t mind blending it into cocktails and refined enough to sip neat
 
Vanilla, hints of crème fraiche and orange peel are all evident on the nose. Mission fig, dates, maple syrup and more are all part of the palate which is deep, layered and loaded with wave after wave of refined flavors. Hints of chocolate sauce, salinity, and fruitcake spices are all present on the lengthy finish. This rum represents the heart and soul of Diplomático. It’s their largest production, most widely available rum and most stunning value. There are many sipping rums on the market in the same price range as Reserva Exclusiva, but none match the value it delivers.  If you want to blow away your spirits loving friends pour them this rum from Diplomático. The aromas and flavors will knock them out; when they hear the price they’ll run out and buy a bottle or two. This has the taste of luxury without the associated price tag. Put another way this is the best combination of quality, flavor and value in sipping rum available on liquor store shelves. Pour this and everyone will assume you’re a liquor slinging genius.
 
This unique expression is made entirely from sugar cane harvested in a single year. Apricot aromas dominate the nose with bits of smoke in evidence as well. The generous palate is dotted with toffee, dark chocolate, black tea and dried white fig flavors. Salted caramel, marzipan, spice notes, and bits of taffy are evident on the impressively long finish. There’s a nice bite and fantastic structure here that provides a bit of heft and additional depth and complexity. Once again there are many examples of rum available in the same general price point; some of them are quite nice. However the Diplomático Single Vintage outclasses them. In addition to the 2002 I also sampled the 1997 and the 2001. It’s clear that it’s not only fantastic rum, but it’s also improved each time out. The leap from the 1997 to the 2001 is remarkable. The shift upward from 2001 to 2002 is far more subtle but palpable nonetheless. 
 
The top expression in the Diplomático range is produced exclusively from copper pot still distillate. Aromas of fresh cut wheat and mulled fruit fill the intricate and welcoming nose. Toasty oak, golden raisins, chocolate and wisps of black tea are in in play on the profound and impossibly dense palate. References to Tawny Port, toasted hazelnuts and a copious array of spices line the prodigious finish. Simply put this is the best Rum that has ever touched my lips. From the first whiff to the last sip everything about Ambassador is remarkably impressive. This is a rum you’ll want to share with your closest friends, sipping it over a long purposeful night as you contemplate its many intricacies and flavors. It would be impossible for me to overstate how complex, delicious and worth analysis Ambassador is. Strive to get your hands on a bottle; you’ll be happy you did.
 
The Reserva is multi-purpose rum; perfectly suitable sipped need (particularly with a twist of orange zest and an ice cube, but it’s priced to work in cocktails too.  At right around $30, if you shop around, the Reserva Exclusiva is the steal of the lineup. It not only knocks a lot of other similarly priced rums out of the water on quality and value, it also compares favorably from a value perspective to whiskey. You simply aren’t getting nearly that level of quality in whiskies anywhere near these prices. The Single Vintage and Ambassador are bench mark rums whose quality and level of sophistication and expression other producers should be clamoring to achieve. Kudos to Diplomático for making such terrific expressions of Venezuelan rum that set the bar for other to emulate. Raise the stakes of your home bar by adding one or more of their offerings to your collection.

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Comments

  • Snooth User: kathaley
    1272924 27

    Sounds like a great trip and even better rum! I'll have to try and find this brand here in the Okanagan. Cheers!

    Jun 17, 2016 at 12:50 PM


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