Father’s day treated me well this year – a shiny bottle of Brugal 1888 Ron Gran Reserva Familiar joined my collection (Dominican rum distiller). It’s a blend of rums aged 5 to 14 years. It was given to me courtesy of some random guy at the liquor store. **My mom actually paid for it, but said random rum lover gushed over the Brugal 1888 Reserva, so I went with it.
The Brugal isn’t as dark and rich in appearance as say, Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, but it’s still appealing to the eye. It has plenty of legs that reveal a light bodied rum – when swirled in your glass, it settles down the sides quickly and in thin lines. So, how does it taste? The Brugal Reserva offering is subtle to start, but comes on strong with cinnamon and caramel. Harshness follows with hints of vanilla. I kept waiting for the finish to……well…..finish. But the bite lingered and fluctuated between smokiness and spices, and left me wanting a smooth run for my next sip that didn’t come. You could even call it an imposter – a rum that poses as a scotch (**for the record, I love scotch). At $62+ for a bottle, I can think of a number of cheaper offerings I prefer. I’m not saying this is poor quality rum – far from it. It’s just that I wouldn’t drink this again if I’m buying. No offense mom and random liquor store guy.
Diplomatico Reserva Exlcusiva first hit the bottom of my glass in the summer of 2009. I was hunting for something new after enjoying a run with Cruzan’s Single Barrel, their flagship offering. To be perfectly honest, I first picked up Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva because the bottle caught my attention – its deep green hue and a label like freshly printed money. It’s a shame us Canadians have to pay, on average, $55.00 for Exclusiva, but there is no questioning its unbelievable value at this price point. The spirit lurking within its eye-catching exterior is blended from 80% heavy and 20% light rums, aged for up to 12 years in white oak barrels.
With my first taste, I was shocked at how smooth and sweet the Venezuelan rum was, and I didn’t experience the teeth that other rums in this category often have. As Exclusiva moves toward its finish, smoothness reigns supreme with a complex array of flavours emerging. A bit more about the smoothness of this spirit; I wouldn’t go so far as to call it silky smooth. Some will revel in the intensity and richness of its toffee and fudge finish, while others may find it overpowering. If you’re looking for something more refined, consider a stellar choice like Santa Teresa 1796 Ron Antiguo de Solera Rum, or El Dorado’s 15-year-old Special Reserve. But if you savour a spirit that holds nothing back, Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva is for you. There is no question – I will drink this again for years to come.