What first comes to mind when you think about rum?
Is it Bacardi? Maybe a Mojito or a rum and Coke? Or better yet are you picturing toes in the sand and a pina colada in hand?
As I write this on the first official day of summer these all sound perfect right about now. However I don't think most people know about (or fully appreciate) quality aged rum. Matured rum, like good whiskey, should be sipped or in a spirit forward cocktail like an Old Fashioned.
Places like Cana Rum Bar in Downtown Los Angeles are a great a place to get familiar with the different styles and brands of rum. In fact every Tuesday night they host a Rum Society tasting which can open up the door to whole new level of rum appreciation.
Last night we were fortunate enough to stop by and participate in a tasting of Diplomatico rum. If you're unfamiliar, Diplomatico is a very well known rum from Venezuela and can be considered the standard to which other matured rums are compared.
Recently the company has switched things up, renaming and adding some new blends to their lines. The following is my review of the four blends we got to try along with some side notes:
From left to right: 1) Planas 2&3) Mansuato 3) Reserva Exclusiva
1) Reserva Exclusiva
This is their flagship blend that started it all. Crafted from the purest sugar cane honey and aged 12 years. Right away I got the aroma of Coca-Cola and vanilla. These flavors continued as I sipped. I tend to like sweetness so this was my favorite of the evening and at around $35 a bottle perhaps the best value in this category of spirits.
At 47% abv this was the most intense blend of the evening. This is also the youngest at 6 years maturation and the only crystal clear spirit due to a charcoal filtration process. It's a blend of 50% light and 50% heavy rum, giving it more viscosity (thickness) than the others. I picked up chocolate and coffee on the nose, which I could also taste along with some fruit. A little too intense for me to sip on but could definitely enjoy in a cocktail.
Aged up to 8 years in previously whiskey used white oak barrels. I was very impressed by this blend, very thin and sip-able. I sensed oak and apples on the nose; Also picked up caramel as I kept sipping. Now that I think of it I really like this one, perhaps as much as the Reserva Exclusiva.
Aged 12 years in white oak barrels then matured an additional 2 years in sherry casks, Ambassador is the rarest and most complex blend we tried and at about $300 a bottle also the most expensive. I picked up oak with dried apricot notes on the nose and instant maple on the taste. I really liked this one but it wasn't my favorite, however it was the best one in my wife's opinion.
If you're not really a rum person or if you'd just like to learn more about quality rums then check out Cana Rum Bar in Downtown LA. You do have to be a member but you can sign up online or at the door. Once you're in you can join the Rum Society for tastings every Tuesday night and get your Cana on!