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Review 2 – Santa Teresa Bicentenario

I was given this bottle by a friend who knows how much I love rum as a thank you present (Thanks Steve!). Imagine my surprise when I opened it. It’s taken quite a while for me to find the right occasion to open it and that happened today thankfully!

Santa Teresa is the 4th biggest producer of rum in the world and is still a family owned business. It was opened in 1796 in Venezuela in Aragua Valley by Martin de Tovar. Rum production however began in 1896. The master distiller there is a man called Nestor Ortega who I was lucky enough to meet last October at a master class he gave on Santa Teresa and got a brief word with him before a picture and birthday present!

When I showed him a picture of the rum I had been given, his face lit up with a great smile. He told me that most rum should be shared with your friends and spent having a good time and to bring people closer. However, he gave me the advice that the bicentenario is a rum not to be shared. It’s to be enjoyed maybe with a Cigar and savoured alone or at the most with a few special people. Not for general consumption! A pleasure and an honour to meet the great man himself!

This rum was introduced as part of the company’s bicentennial in 1996. They only produce 1000 bottles a year. This bottle I have is number 7743. The rum is a solera which means it is a mixture of different ages of rum. From what I have found the oldest batch of rum that is part of this is over 80 years old. As we know the angels share at 80 years must have been a huge number, which goes a long way to understanding the price point of this rum.

The bottle itself is very unique as you can see. The bottom is shaped like a grenade or a pineapple. Extremely distinctive and noticeable even from a distance. I can see people being divided on it. I personally like the shape and feel of the bottle. It definitely lives up to its premium price point. The downside on the packaging is the cork. Or rather the lack of it. I like the authenticity and the feel of a cork. This is a quite basic screw top. Really detracts from the style of the bottle in my opinion. The rest of the packaging and bottle however is excellent.

On first pour the rum doesn’t seem very viscous which is what I was expecting. It is also a light shade than I was expecting, but still a beautiful golden brown as you can see in the glass next to the bottle. On my first sniff, I smell light citrus and pineapple notes. But something is strange. This rum is very complex yet unlike most rums also very soft and subtle. I can take a deep inhalation of the rum and it doesn’t burn or become overwhelming, like every other rum I have done that with. This really is something special that Mr Ortega has done to keep it subtle yet still have the oaky notes to finish the smell.

On my initial taste I get soft vanilla,hint of oak and something akin to blueberries. The back of throat is left with no burn as the rum seems to evaporate yet still leave a warming sensation. The only other rum I can say which has anything remotely similar is El Dorado 21. As the rum sits and warms the citrus side picks up a little bit more and now I can taste slight spice as well, potentially small hints of liquorice. The feel is creamy and delicate, warming and very smooth.

Overall I had very high hopes for this rum as the 1796 that Santa Teresa produce is one of my favourites. I have not been disappointed. It is obvious a lot of work has gone into this rum. It’s a rum which is soft and delicate, yet complex and deep at the same time. A real sipper to enjoy. I would recommend this to rum fans and non-rum fans alike as it’s not incredibly oaky to those who aren’t used to rums and shows the real versatility that rum can have with unique fruity flavours and an amazingly light finish. However, at this price point I fear it will be out of the grasp of most people. And no, you can’t have any of mine!

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