With rum (finally) being taken more seriously as a category in recent years, it is no wonder that premium Venezuelan brand, Diplomático, are seizing the opportunity to introduce rumheads to a whole new collection of theirs – the Distillery Collection. Already huge lovers of the spirit, we joined Maestro Ronero Nelson Hernandez at Black Parrot for the launch of the third expression of the collection.
We are greeted with an exceptionally refreshing cocktail – a simple combination of The London Essence Co Rhubarb and Cardamon crafted soda, and Diplomático Planas Rum, which came together to create a delightfully creamy Rum Pimm’s Soda that will give pink gin a “rum” for their money this summer. Effortlessly chic, we can see this becoming a new aperitif favourite at upcoming BBQs.
The Maestro Nelson took us through his impressive 32 years of distillation experience, providing us with drops of knowledge that added to our appreciation of the spirit. These new expressions are just a peak behind the curtain, offering a better understanding of the traditional range. They highlight the key flavour profiles the team look for when blending the current ranges and are a deconstructed version; expressions at different stages of the distillation process.
The main reason for the refined taste of Diplomático is the quality of the sugar cane used. The distillery’s perfect geographical position at the foot of the Andes Mountains, which boasts a climate of equal measure wet and dry weather, also ensures that the rum age three times faster than, for example a Scotch whisky. Ex-Canadian whiskey and bourbon casks are used, with different toast levels, which underline the rum with a depth and oaky sophistication that is very different in style to Caribbean rums. Once the rums reach their optimal maturity, the Maestros Ronero combine them to create exceptional blends.
We make our way through the three expressions, taking the first rum at its earliest stage, distilled through a 100% copper Batch Kettle system. As you would expect, the No. 1 Expression tastes the least complex and is fruity and strong, similar to a sherry perhaps, with a pronounced aftertaste that is caramelised, soft, sweet and slightly cool.
No. 2 uses a Barbet distillation system and is between four and six years old. On the palate it has a peaty depth reminiscent of an Islay whisky and is very sippable! Again it has a wonderfully fruity aroma with some citrus notes. Light but aromatic with burnt caramel smoky notes, this expression has a lot more texture than the first, with a delicate wood flavour that was very popular with all the tasters.
No. 3, the final expression, is our favourite. Smooth, refined, complex with deep chocolate tones, much sweeter and easier. It is balanced and well-structured on the palate, where wood flavours combine with coffee and dark chocolate notes, ending with a deep and long-lasting finish. It is up to eight years old and made in the same copper pot still first used at Diplomático’s La Miel distillery in 1959. You can really begin to taste how Diplomático create their impressive Reserve range through passion and extreme care for the boutique process from beginning to end. The sophistication of this third expression was incredibly impressive.
We were then let loose to experiment a blend for ourselves. We went for 10ml of No. 1 to make a strong base and to hold the flavours. 15ml of No. 2 added an oaky body and 25ml of No. 3 to combine it all with a creamy and very drinkable blend Nelson seemed impressed, which made our day.
We were exposed to some more Rum cocktails, from a deep, coffee flavoured variation on a classic Negroni, to our favourite – a Daiquiri-inspired, Limoncello-esque, refreshing addition to anyone’s repertoire. The Diplomático ambassador demonstrated to us the versatility of this elegant drink, proving that it could work with vermouth, pisco, Madeira….or even as a twist on an affogato at a dinner party.
By the end of the tasting, along with being impressed by the product and its accessibility, we were also struck by the company’s story. A family business, it provides transport, medical and family schooling to its employees (something in-line with the old Quaker Cadbury’s tradition). By all accounts, it seems to be a company that really cares about its rum every single step of the way, and their desire to enlighten us through these expressions is further testament to that. The Diplomático range has the sophisticated elegance of Cognac whilst also having a character that is light enough to replace a G&T on a hot summers day, along with a real element of fun that really should make it a staple in everyone’s drink cabinet.
Words by Victoria Yeates