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

Pampero Aniversario Reserva Exclusiva (40%, Circa 2009, Venezuela)

Nearly summer, but already quite a lot of sunny days. Add to that that I live besides a lake, makes for an almost carribean feel. Well, no white sandy beaches, no palm trees, and not really crystal clear water, but you can’t have it all can’t you? Not so long ago I reviewed a trio of Rums, which I haven’t done for a while then and I must admit, I had quite a lot of fun with them. So why not do it again? Lets start with a Rum most Rum aficionado’s know very well. Pampero Aniversario. If you don’t recognize the picture below, this Rum is sold in a leather pouch, which also comes in handy when wiping moisture off of your windscreen.

Pampero AniversarioColor: Dark brown.

Nose: When you see the (dark) color of this Rum, you expect a lot nosing this for the first time, but it actually smells sweet, but also very elegant and middle of the roadish. It sounds worse than I actually mean. Reminds me a bit of Abuelo 7yo (which is sharper) and the 18yo Panamanian Rum from Rum Nation (which is less sweet). Light, fresh and fragrant. Hints of cinnamon and thick brown sugar. Lightly acidic fruit and cola. New leather and butterscotch.

Taste: Quite thin and for a brief moment sugary sweet, acidic, cola again. (Slightly burnt) brown sugar, but alas a bit thin (as in watery) and a bit too simple. It is even drier than expected. Hints of bitterness from wood and slightly burnt caramel. Creamy toffee with hints of vanilla. All flavours are well integrated. Short finish, which leaves you only with the burnt aftertaste.

The color alone made for great expectations. Alas the Rum itself is rather light. I can’t help but feel this has a lot more potential than it is allowed to show, so that everybody will like it. Just smell the Rum deeply, let it breathe a lot, its very complex, well balanced and nice. Taste wise a lot simpler and lighter, with a short finish. This Rum has a profile with lots of competitors. I already mentioned Abuelo from Panama, but also Diplomatico from Venezuela itself or Zacapa 23 from Diageo themselves.

Points: 79

Rum Week – Day 1: Diplomático 12yo Reserva Exclusiva (40%, Venezuela)

Let’s finish off this first month of the year with another Master Quill week. I like doing these weeks and the theme can be almost anything. This third week will be all about rum. Isn’t that a surprise, since I never reviewed rum on these pages before. So time to pull up the drawbridge, leave the moat alone and lock myself between the thick walls of Master Quill’s castle.

Diplomático is a Venezuelan rum. Just click on the link and you’ll see how many awards this baby got in its life. It should be pretty good then…

Color: Copper Gold

Nose: Half sweet and very aromatic rum. Vibrant and lively. Hints of sharp dry wood. Not thick nor cloying. Grassy with oranges, and raspberry syrup. Fruit liqueur. There are some more wood influences and do I detect the smallest hint of smoke? Probably the cask toast. Also some pastry in it, cookie dough, cake with raisins. Toasted bread. Cocos and sappy oak again. Lots going on in here. The nose is lovely although I do feel it is covered under a sugar blanket. An effect similar to adding caramel coloring to Single Malt Whisky. Homogenizing the smell.

Taste: Sweet. Very sweet. Heaps of chewy toffee with quickly a hint of wood. Strange enough a very thin texture, nothing syrupy as you might have expected. Very much about toffee, caramel and fudge. Actually pretty clean this one, but it has a bit of a disturbed balance by something sour that doesn’t fit this type of sweetness. I feel the sweetness and the acidity are in a constant fight with each other, but obviously the sweetness wins since this is über-sweet. Cold chocolate sauce on vanilla ice cream. This is actually so sweet that it hides a lot of the aroma’s that must be there. The finish is also dominated by sugar, and burned sugar, (and a fruity note), making the finish fall flat on its face.

I poured this once over vanilla ice with warm chocolate sauce and it worked wonders. This rum is a dessert in its own right. It has a fabulous nose a somewhat less complex taste. I think there is a lot of potential to this, and I feel a well aged rum at a higher ABV with more wood ageing and less sweet and ‘thin’, should be pretty spectacular.

From a single malt point of view, I wouldn’t recommend this, and that is pretty strange. Venezuela is a good market for single malt scotches, so one would expect… Well it has its uses, but I don’t feel it’s a sipping rum. For me this is more a rum you should ‘do’ something with. Mix it, Cocktail it, or put it on your dessert. It’s good never the less, the super-sweet style is just not so much for me.

Points: 75