Columbian Rums – Dictador Esencia 25 year 40%

Our last rum for the evening was a Dictador… one you won’t find to easily… available only in Columbia.

Dictador Esencia 25 year 40%, Batch 243-8

  • Colour – Dark copper
  • Nose – Very woody, wet dish rag, light varnish, dry, caramel custard
  • Palate – Loads of wood, balsa, heavy character, depth, dry, complex
  • Finish – A zing that get deeper, fruity spice then sweet

There was no doubt this was a robust, complex, rich rum. A real treat!

Here are the Columbian and The Seychelles rums we enjoyed that same evening:

It was fun to digress into a rummy evening. However, truth be told, as fabulous as these rums were… I still remain first and foremost a Whisky Lady!

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Columbia Rums – Gobernador 12 year 35%

Back to Columbia, our next rum was from Gobernador, with the oldest rum matured for 12 years. Now this rum was a real treat!

Ron Gobernador 12 year 35%

  • Nose – Prunes, dates and plums! Christmas pudding, very rich, lots of candied dry fruits, simply gorgeous
  • Palate – Wow! Rich and complex without being overly sweet, just superb
  • Finish – Very dry finish, slightly salty at the end

For most of this, this was a clear winner. It also went beautifully with a cigar.

Here are the Columbian rums we enjoyed that same evening:

Plus a bonus rum from The Syechelles:

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The Seychelles Rum – Takamaka 8 year 40%

Just as we were settling into our Columbian explorations, one of our tasting companions added to the mix a recent purchase from his trip to The Seychelles with a rum from La Pleine St Andre.

Takamaka 8 year 40%

  • Nose – Juicy oranges, a refreshing fruity floral citrus, sugary caramel chased by burnt sugar, vanilla essence, sour cherry
  • Palate – Sugar, spice and all things nice! Very Christmasy, clove, cinnamon, oranges, oily mouth feel, nice oak
  • Finish – A nice chocolate orange or chilli chocolate, with more clove spice

In our opinion, this was the most “whisky like” – in a good way.

Here are the Columbian rums we enjoyed that same evening:

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Columbian Rums – Baluarte 8 year 35%

We had an evening dedicated to exploring rums… and not your ordinary easily available rums… these were personally sourced by our host from a recent trip to Columbia. His goal? Find something you couldn’t locate anywhere else…

Baluarte 8 year 35% (Dictador)

  • Nose – Citrus lemon, resin, sap, sour wine
  • Palate – Soft, very light flavours, delicate and subtle, a touch of caynne and liquorice, fruit cake
  • Finish – Long light spice, a bit bitter

Clearly this wasn’t an ‘in your face’ kinda rum, it was very light after La Hechicero, welcome for not being too sweet but not a favourite… still interesting to try.

Here is what else we explored in our rum evening:

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Columbian Rums – La Hechicera 40%

We kicked off our Columbian rum explorations with a no age statement rum. None of us had encounter ‘The Enchantress’ La Hechicera before.

La Hechicera Extra Anejo de Solera 40%

  • Nose – Plum, a bit sharp, exceedingly sweet, toffee, vanilla
  • Palate – Pure cane sugar, dry, pineapple, orange peel, a bit of liquorice
  • Finish – Cocoa mocha finish, slightly bitter tobacco with a dash of salt

What a wonderful full-bodied way to begin our evening. No doubt this was no ordinary rum and a great way to kick off our explorations.

What else did we try?

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Barbados Rum – FourSquare Criterion 10 year 56%

When my fellow spirits adventurer and I first sampled this rum with Sukhinder Singh in London – we were blown away. We both bought bottles from The Whisky Exchange and were rather impatient to engineer the right opportunity to try again.

It came out at the close of a rather ambitious tasting evening that started with a set of whisky minis of a peaty persuasion – Peat Chimney 12 year 40%Big Peat 46%Longrow 46%BenRiach Peated Quarter Cask 46%Ledaig 10 year 46.3%…

Followed by rum Quintet of Diplomatico 40%, Zacapa 23 Solera 40% vs XO 40%, El Dorado 12 year 40%…. then this Criterion… added as a ‘reward’ for our extensive tasting adventures!

Foursquare Criterion 10 year (April 2017) Ex Bourbon / Ex Madiera 56%

  • Nose – Chocolate, berries, lemon grass, nutmeg, tropical fruits
  • Palate – Lovely rich spices, creamy, rich and dry, multiple elements at play
  • Finish – Yes we had a finish with this rum, initially a bit sharp, it mellowed beautifully

This Barbados rum is matured in ex-bourbon & Madeira casks, uncoloured with no additives.

Tasting notes by Billy Abbot, The Whisky Exchange:

  • Nose: Intense brown sugar and roasted tropical fruit to start – pineapples and bananas. Salted caramel and baking spices follow, with nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon joined by a hint of sweet butter. Underneath are sharper notes of candied lemon, and sweet and sour toffee apples.
  • Palate: A burst of Crunchie bars is balanced by touches of barrel char. Caramel runs through the middle with singed sultanas and apples leading the way to medicinal touches that quickly fade under a Portuguese custard tart onslaught. Oaky tannins dry out the sides of the mouth while sweet fruit builds in the middle: more toffee apple and banana.
  • Finish: Mouth-watering, with dark chocolate, treacle toffee and Crunchie bars sat alongside stewed apple and barrel-char bitterness.
  • Comment: Intense, with sweetness balanced by hints of char. The cask influences really make themselves known, with the dual attack of toffee and custard tarts harking back to their previous occupants.

What else did we sample in our rummy evening?

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Guyana Rum – El Dorado 12 year 40%

After the Diplomatico and Zacapa duo in our rum sampling evening, was  El Dorado. My 1st brush with El Dorado was the 15 year version at the close of a whisky tasting session, paired with a delicious desert.

El Dorado 12 year 40%

  • Nose – Raisins, very sugary, strong caramel
  • Palate – Alcohol to the extent of being more cognac like than rum

By this point you could tell we’d had enough… Truly there is much more going on with this rum and I certainly recalled quite enjoying it with a previous tasting experience as a ‘finish’ to a delightful evening of whiskies.

El Dorado is from Guyana and here’s what the folks over at El Dorado have to say:

Lush tropical fruit and spice nose with hints of honey and dark sugar. Round, mellow, full bodied palate with rich flavours of fruit and spice. The finish is delightful, elegant and dry.

“Hedonistic and well balanced”

What else did we sample in our rummy evening?

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Guatemalan Rum – Zacapa 23 Solero 40% vs XO 40%

Next in our rum sampling was a head-to-head of two Zacapas – the 23 Solero and the XO… Zacapa rum is from Guatemala.

Before proceeding, there is a caveat… we are primarily whisky aficionados… and this rum distraction followed a rather marvellous round of peaty whisky minis. So I do hope our scant notes can be forgiven and instead just sit back, relax and enjoy our light meanderings into the realm of rum…

Zacapa 23 Solero 40%

  • Nose – Sweet, woody, prunes, cream, almost like port, then shifts into a Malbec, rum raisins
  • Palate – The port like quality is even more pronounced on the palate, more raisins, rich and robust, lots of the deep sherry spice and dark fruits

Here is what the folks over at Zacapa have to say:

Combining a blend of rums from 6 to 23 years old.

  • Keynote – Wonderfully intricate with honeyed butterscotch, spice oak and raising fruit, showcasing the complexity of the sistema solar aging process.
  • Nose – A soft start which develops complexity in the glass; sweet aromas of caramel, vanilla, cacao and butterscotch, combining with layers of flavour indicative of the different barrels in the solera process; sherried notes of caramelised, roasted brazil nuts and toasted hazelnut, and the characteristic rounded toffeed banana and dried pineapple of ex-American whiskey casks.
  • Palate – Wonderfully complex, generous and full-bodied, with a sweet honeyed viscosity atypical of an aged spirit; a great depth of raisined fruit and apricot preserves, building to an intense heart of savoury oak, nutmeg, leather and tobacco with notes of coffee and delicately sweet vanilla, balanced with a spicy touch of cinnamon and ginger on the pleasantly astringent finish; truly a rum for the discerning palate.

Zacapa XO 40%

  • Nose – Honey, dry wood
  • Palate – Lighter, bitter, dry, woody

Here is what the folks over at Zacapa have to say:

Combining a blend of rums from 6 to 25 years old.

  • Keynote – A perfectly balanced combination of sweetness, spice, fruit and spirit, a connoisseur’s delight and the ultimate expression of the Master Blender’s art.
  • Nose – A very open nose with a wealth of aromas that seem to evolve each time you nose the glass; a great balance of mature toasted oak, burnt caramel, dry-roasted nuts, marzipan and orange peel; a delicate floral note of honeysuckle in the background.
  • Palate – A wonderfully complex and satisfying balance of sweetness, fruit, spice and spirit, all tempered by the extra ageing stage in ex-cognac French oak barrels; long, smooth and sweet with a weight of dark cherry chocolate and flavours of intense dried fruits like sultana, date and prune; sweet oak spices of clove, vanilla and cinnamon, and lighter notes of dried mango and raspberry, with a subtle hint of ginger to finish. A connoisseur’s delight and the ultimate expression of the Master Blender’s art.

We found the XO much more restrained on the palate than the 23 Solero. We also tried it in the Norlan glass to find it much smoother, revealing more rum like qualities with brown sugar soaked raisins.

What else did we sample in our rummy explorations?

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Venezuelan Rum – Diplomatico 40%

The first in our rum minis evening was Diplomatico… which I first avoided at the 2016 Whisky Live Singapore – doing my best not to get my feminist hackles up over their dominatrix styled models wandering about to pique male interest in the rum.

However marketing faux pas aside (from my perspective at least), the chance to share a mini with a merry bunch seemed the best opportunity to get over my prejudice.

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva 40%

  • Nose – Toast with butter and marmalade, then a bit of marmite, burnt sugar like a crème brulee, spiced rum raisins, caramel custard, a German Stollen or marzipan
  • Palate – Very sweet, lighter than anticipated

In short, this could be described as “sweet and delicious” like desert in a glass.

Diplomatico origins are Venezuelan and can be found in 60 odd countries.

What do the folks over at Diplomatico have to say?

  • Nose: Complex and characterful, with notes of maple syrup, orange peel, brown sugar and liquorice.
  • Mouth: Sweet toffee fudge and a seductive and elegant finish.

What else did we sample in our rummy evening?

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Rum Quintet – Diplomatico, Zacapa 23 vs XO, El Dorado, Criterion

After our peaty minis session, talk turned to the emerging quality of unique single rums… in part sparked by a few rum miniatures peaking amongst the whiskies and in part sparked by the availability of a few rums to run a few comparisons.

What did we settle on?

This wasn’t my first brush with exploring rums… aside from the occasional opportunity to taste a single rum here and there, there was a rather memorable session at Whisky Live SingaporeIs Single Rum the new Single Malt? Masterclass with Luca Gargano and Dave Broom.

Other remarkable rums….

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