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Review 7: Ron Barcelo – Imperial Premium Blend (30 Anniversario)

Ron Barcelo is a producer based on the Caribbean island of the Dominican Republic. In 1929 when Julian Barcelo travelled from Spain to Santo Domingo he founded Barcelo & Co and began to produce rum. The Ron Barcelo brand was launched in 1950 with Barcelo Blanco and Barcelo Dorado. The rum that made Ron Barcelo famous was born in 1980 and the Ron Barcelo Imperial remains the most internationally awarded Dominican rum. Today Ron Barcelo is sold in over 50 countries globally and is the 4th largest exporter of rum in the world. For a more in depth look into their history please visit there website here.

This particular offering from Ron Barcelo was created to celebrate 30 years of rum production of their signature rum in 2001. Miguel Barcelo kept some private reserves of his rum which he further aged in American white oak and French oak barrels from Chateau d’Yquem in Bordeaux France for a couple of years and then blended to create this premium blend for Ron Barcelo’s production line and is limited to just 9000 bottles annually.

The bottle and packaging are quite exquisitely done. There is a golden tin to keep the bottle safe and the bottle itself comes on a wooden display pedestal. The bottle is a very unique round shape with a short neck that leads to the cork. A huge symbol showing off that this rum is a 30th Anniversary edition is on both the case and bottle. It would be a welcome addition to any shelf and would definitely stand out. The cork is sizeable and gives a satisfying pop when removed from the bottle. Everything shouts out that this is a premium bottle of rum.

After the satisfying uncorking and pouring of the rum, the colour is a deep dark brown in my glass. On my first sniff I get notes of vanilla and to a lesser extent caramel and toffee. Then the nose transitions to raisins and dried fruit. There are also hints of oaks and wood which is to be expected for the length of aging of this production. A complex and well defined nose which increases my expectations.

On the first sip I am met with a wonderfully sweet caramel and toffee flavour which is balanced with an undertone of coffee. Having let the rum sit for a while other flavours of dark chocolate and cherry appear with a small spice hit at the end of nutmeg and pepper. The rum coats your tongue and mouth and leaves a lovely warm finish where the spiciness gives way to a sweetness that leaves you wanting another sip. There are notes of oak and wood throughout the rum, but they remain the background and do not overpower any of the other flavours but rather take the edge off them in a delightful way.

Overall, this is a lovely step up from the Imperial offering from Ron Barcelo. I understand the price point of the rum at almost £80 due to the exclusivity and limited nature of the production of the rum. This offering from Ron Barcelo is a must have for any rum collector/enthusiast. If you can get a bottle, I would say do it. It has the expected lighter style consistent with the Dominican Republic’s Spanish heritage, with some depth and an abundance of flavours which meld together in a lovely concoction of rum-goodness.

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How Is Rum Produced? (Part 4 – Aging)

The first three stages of production can be found here: part 1, part 2 and part 3.

Now we have our rum, we move onto the aging process. This is done to help remove the harsh taste acquired from small amounts of hydrogen sulphide gas which is created during the fermentation process. Due to the high cost of barrels and the relative low cost of rum when it was first aged, rum has almost always and still till today, uses oak barrels which once were used to age whiskey or bourbon. These barrels not only add flavour to the rum but also colour. If the rum is aged in stainless steel tanks it will stay mostly clear. The minimum term rum will usually be aged for is one year.

Rum can be aged for decades if desired but depending on the process we get a loss of rum known as the angel or ‘duppy’ share. The higher the share, the less rum remains after the aging process. The highest angel share I have come across was quite recently where it was over 75% of the rum in the Velier Uitvlugt ULR 1997 (Review here). The final part is next and is the blending and bottling of the rum.