Santa Teresa 1796 (40%, OB, Ron Antiguo de Solera, L11211005, Venezuela)

Here is an oldie and hopefully a goldie. Meaning that this is an older release of this Rum, since the bottle has by now been revamped. Here we have a Rum from the so called Spanish style of Rums, Ron. Personally, I approach this style with caution. Often, this style is made by the solera method, nothing wrong with that, but please read on. I’ve looked into this method before and therefore won’t tire you with a whole explanation again, but if you don’t know what the solera method is please have a look at my Glenfiddich 15yo Solera review. Sometimes producers in this style (using the solera system) use (rather large) numbers on their labels making us, the consumer, believe the Ron is pretty old. A wonderful example of this practice is Flor de Caña. In this old review of the 18, the label reads: “slow aged 18 eighteen years” So to me this looks like an 18yo Rum. In my review of the 25, which was more recently bottled. Again, the range was revamped for this brand and so was the text on the label: “slow aged 25”. Well how convenient. The word “year” or “years” are no longer used, and word is that the 25 means only that it tastes like a 25yo. Ahhhhh silly me. Still fooling people I see.

Next the Spanish style is pretty middle of the road. Almost always reduced to 40% and quite sweet. Personally, I gravitate more to the big and heavy English style of Rums (f.i. Jamaica and Guyana, but there are more) and the French style (Martinique and Guadeloupe, but again, there are more). Within the French style we also have the very interesting: Rhum Agricole, a unique style in itself). Having said all this, it doesn’t mean that all Spanish style Rums are mediocre. I really, really liked Abuelo Centuria and Flor de Caña 25 for instance, but there are more…

Color: Copper Gold

Nose: First smell: Spicy wood, toasted wood with a little bit of tobacco, mixed with a little bit of fresh air and raisins. Hints of swimming pool chlorine (sounds worse than it actually is). Then nutty, sweetish, Oloroso Sherry-like and even some hints of cocktail cherries. Red sugary fruit gello. Fresh, smells sometimes like a Gin, juniper and pine. Sometimes a whiff of acidic sweat, mixed with mocha pie and coffee. Vanilla and toffee. Cookie dough, sweeter and more aromatic now. Right now, almost, or mostly, Panamanian in its approach. When smelling this, its not hard to hear that this Ron speaks Spanish. Well balanced (maybe that is the solera system for you, marrying Rons of different years continuously). Smells good and appetizing, however, knowing different Rons within the Spanish style, it is also a tiny bit unsurprising. I won’t say boring, but this has an element of been-there-done-that to it, yet this also has some new tricks. To me, Abuelo (which is sweeter) and the many different Rons of Oliver & Oliver come to mind. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not exactly the same. This is less sweet and way fresher. The similarities are not this Ron’s fault, it’s only yet another Ron that fits the Spanish style profile seamlessly. It’s a good thing, that this one presents some woody notes and especially some Gin notes, because it really helps the Ron forward. Most solera systems are quite old, and therefore lacking wood in the nose/taste, but somehow this Ron shows us some wood. Nice going, but how?

Taste: Definitely not as sweet on entry as I thought, which is very welcoming. Again some wood and wood spice. Licorice and slightly leafy. Caramel Yoghurt. A bit thin on entry but warming going down (the Gin notes evaporate in my mouth, nice). Decent body which, truth be told, seems to be lacking complexity (the nose had more). It is one of those Ron’s that usually seems sweet, but isn’t. Diluted cola with a woody edge. Some vanilla and toffee notes, but not much really. I won’t say it needs a bit more sweetness to it, but the profile does seem to ask for it (but don’t do it, Santa Teresa, just don’t do it). How unusual for me to say this! Again, pretty well balanced. Nice, because it has some wood, and some acidity to freshen it up, and setting it a bit apart from other Spanish style Rons. Short finish, but with a nice warming aftertaste. No off-notes. Decent stuff. Again I wonder how this would have been at a higher strength, because this version has definitely been reduced too much. The reduction ruins the finish. I’m sure this Rum would be quite excellent at a higher strength. I would love to try this at 50% or maybe even at cask strength. Please Santa Teresa, let us have it.

This in essence, you can taste and smell it, is a wonderful Ron. Alas is has been diluted too much. Since the quality is there, I wonder why they don’t do more with the brand? There aren’t a lot of expressions, no wide portfolio. A shame really. I wonder, does distillate from this distillery ever show up (at a different strength hopefully) at an independent bottler? If you know of an example, please let me know.

Points: 82

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