Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Rum: The Richness And A Little Sweetness Of Venezuela
by Ken Gargett
The famous Venezuelan rum Diplomático and I share a birth year (1959), so it is an error of judgment on my part not to have shared more time with this excellent rum. Thankfully, I am rectifying that.
At a wine tasting in Helsinki (more on that to come), a friend from Venezuela very kindly gave me a bottle of the Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva. I’ve seen a few of the Diplomático rums but had never focused on what a very fine spirit this was. As I still had a few weeks of travelling ahead of me, a nightly sip has kept me company and been a daily reminder of my failings.
Diplomático was originally part of an entity tied in with Seagram, but in 2002 the distillery and the brand were put up for sale and a local consortium took over. It has never looked back.
The distillery is located in the Planas Valley in Venezuela at the foot of the Andes Mountains. It is protected by the local DOC (denomination of origin), Ron de Venezuela. Diplomático is exported to more than 70 countries and employs more than 700 local workers.
Some readers may be wondering what on earth I am talking about, not recognizing the name. In some countries, such as Germany, it is called Botucal, rather than Diplomático. This came about as the giant grocery discounter Aldi held the rights to the name “Diplomat,” and after a legal battle that persisted for many years, Diplomático was forced to move to an alternate name from 2012.
The name Botucal comes from that part of the estate growing the sugar cane used in the rums – it also is where they raise horses, buffalo, and ostriches. It comes from “botuka,” which locally means “green hill.”
The makers work with old copper pot stills, distilling molasses (the distillery deliberately seeks to source molasses, which is highly concentrated in sugars, low in ash content, and also low in viscosity) and maturing the results in small old American bourbon casks constructed from white oak.
Diplomático cultivates and maintains its own strains of yeast for fermentation. Master blender Tito Cordero also uses 20 percent of lighter material from column stills, which assists in the balance. Even so, the results are considered to be line with the old style of Venezuelan rums – slightly richer and heavier than some, with “warm tones.”
There is notable sweetness as well, quite possibly largely contributed to Cordero’s “trick” of mixing in a small amount of cane sugar. He has been quoted as suggesting that this amplifies the flavor.
The Reserva Exclusiva certainly fits this style, and if this is your preference then Diplomático will soon be a favorite. It makes for a great cigar rum.
It is a tribute to a Venezuelan rum maker from an early time, Don Juancho Nieto Melendez, who features on the label.
Reserva Exclusiva is bottled with an average of 12 years, although Cordero will not actually reveal the exact ages of the rums in the blend. This rum is the star of what Diplomático sees as its Traditional Range.
The brand also makes rums that sit in more rarefied atmosphere: the Prestige Range and the Collection Range. Both are definitely worth chasing if you have the chance. Diplomático is a producer that does enter the shows and has an array of awards and medals to support this.
And the rum itself? It is certainly from the richer, slightly sweeter end of the spectrum. It has treacle and honey notes, beeswax, and orange rind. Some caramel and a chocolate-coated raisiny note. Good spirit, clean, and a long finish. But it is a rum for those who prefer the richness and a little sweetness.
Reserva Exclusiva is a very fine rum, though it may not even be this producer’s best – something more than worth investigating. At around US$40-$50 (AUD$110-$130) it is well priced and worthy of a place on your rum shelf.
For more information, please visit www.rondiplomatico.com.
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Also published on Medium.