I may not know much about diplomacy, but I did recently have the chance to learn more about Ron Diplomático during a tasting dinner at Barcelona Wine Bar in Boston’s South End.
I’d not previously had the chance to taste the Venezuelan rum, but I’d always admired the portrait of the bearded, South American patrician that appears on the bottle (turns out he’s a fellow named Don Juan Nieto Melendez that became famous for his extensive rum collection). Since 1959, Ron Diplomático has been producing rum at a distillery near the Andes. Their range of rums is aged primarily in either bourbon, scotch or sherry casks for as few as four or as many as 12 years. I had the opportunity to sip six (generous) samples between baskets of crusty bread and fried croquettes.
Diplomático Blanco Reserve
We began with the Blanco Reserve, a blend of copper pot and column still rums that has been aged up to six years. Charcoal filtering makes it clear in color, as the name implies, but it has a surprisingly heavy taste. The nose provides notes of coconut and coffee, and the mouth is dry yet creamy with a light, pleasant after-taste of coconut.
The Anejo is the youngest of the classic line, aged for just four years. It is a mixture of heavy and light rums, but leans to the heavy side. The nose is sweet and faintly woody, and the mouth is lush and moist with a final kick of lingering spice.
In contrast to the Blanco and Anejo, the Reserva is a fuller, darker blend of rums aged for up to eight years. The nose is considerably more intense than the preceding rums, and features prominent prune, orange peel and lemon citrus notes. The mouth is heavy and sweet with prunes, dates, and apricots, and finishes with a slight spice at the back of the palate.
Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva
The Reserva Exclusiva is Diplomático’s flagship rum, and receives up to 12 years of oak cask aging. Marketed as a “sipping rum,” the nose has a sweet thickness cut by orange peel. The mouth itself is as sweet and rich as a full dessert, and I couldn’t help but think of figgy pudding or some other dessert prominently featured in a Dickens-era Christmas Carol (this probably has something to do with the tasting notes of prune, toffee, vanilla, caramel and maple syrup). It almost felt more dessert wine than rum—and instantly became my favorite taste of the evening.
Diplomático 2002 Single Vintage
Next we sampled from their Single Vintage series, in this case the 2002. The blend–made from separately distilled reserves that were aged together for 12 years in bourbon and single malt whisky barrels and then finished in sherry–came off remarkably heavy on the palate with a level of richness and oil not seen in either of the Reservas. The mouth smacked of the familiar dried fruit, but also contained a salty note and ended with a rather surprising hit of spice.
Ambassador, as the name may imply, is Diplomático’s most premium spirit. It is made from what the distillery considers the cream of its crop, and aged in white oak barrels for at least 12 years. The mouth strongly features port wine and sherry. These flavors turned over on the tongue for what seemed like eternity, barely changing all the while. But toward the end a slight smokiness expands on the tongue like a flash in a pan, dissipating to reveal a lingering finish of port wine.
This particular diplomat may not have brokered world peace. But he did make for one notably delicious evening.