Dictador: Best Of…..1981
€140 (£126, October 2016)
Single Blended Rum – a blend of only pot still and traditional column still
ABV Hydrometer Test: ?
* B S
In 1913 Don Julio Arango y Parra founded Destileria Colombiana, producers of Dictador ron. Based in Cartagena Colombia, Dictador produces gin, cigars and coffee as well as rum.
In 2009, with international financial backing, Dictador have sought to expand into more markets, although it is not a brand one encounters very often in the UK.
For this rum in the “Best Of” range, master blender Hernan Parra “carefully chooses the liquids” and according to Dictador on the back of the bottle, they “represent a selection from our best and oldest barrels in our collection, which has been developing for over 100 years.”
The marketing states “This bottle is part of a limited series – so be one of the few lucky ones to discover this unique and incredibly rare rum.” OK, so I am a lucky one 🙂
Several different editions have been released, each from a different year and from different casks within those years, ranging from 1978-1984. They are all roughly a similar price give or take €20. I chose a bottle from 1981.
The hand written label states:
Aged: 34 years
Cask Ref: AO-81-061
Bottle no: 210/318
Alc Vol: 44%
Growing Region: Colombia
It is signed by the Master Blender Hernan Parra.
This all looks impressive – it is nice to have some info on a bottle. But, there is no mention of whether all of the rum is aged for a minimum of 34 years or if it is a Solera system. Furthermore, they do not mention if it comes from Molasses or cane juice. On Dictador’s web site they do mention some of their other rums as being from “virgin sugar cane honey distilled partly in copper alembic and partly in steel continuous column.”
Looking at Dictador’s web site, they confirm that the “AO” on the cask reference stands for American Oak, with other options being SC for Sherry cask and PC for Port cask.
According to Richard Seale’s / Luca Gargano’s suggested categorisation of rum, this falls into the “Blended Rum (a mixture of column and pot)” section.
The hand-written label gives off the impression of being produced in a small-batch, artisanal and desirable way. The bottle is standard enough, reminiscent of the shape of a bottle of Tia Maria, albeit clear. It comes with a cork enclosure and arrives with a wax seal. Some more info regarding the type of rum, how it was made and if a Solera system is used or not would be nice.
The first thing I notice is that this is quite a dark brown colour – cask ageing or added colouring? I cannot confirm! I suspect a little from column A and a little from column B.
But it is a very deep mahogany colour.
The liquid is quite syrupy when swirled around the glass indicating added sugar or glycerine post-ageing. The aromas are subtle, my first thought was like a coffee cream chocolate from an assorted box. Maybe this is the Colombian influence or the aforementioned fact that they also make coffee at Dictador.
I wonder if they slip a little in a cask or bottle alongside the sugar.
Taste, Initial-middle 28/40
Exceptionally smooth with hints of vanilla, coffee and sweet caramel. I do find it a little too sweet, but there is no doubting how soft this is. It is very enjoyable although well away from a traditional rum flavour, it is however, very much a Spanish ‘ron’ style.
I would love this to have more fire to balance the sweetness and coffee. If it did, this would have a much better tasting experience.
Taste, Middle/Throat 34/40
My wish for some fire has come true. At this stage, I am enjoying this more than the initial sip at the front of the mouth.
The initial sweetness is less prevalent as it reaches the middle of the mouth. The caramel becomes more dominant along with developing oak and hints of spice. A very welcome bit of rum fire appears to remind you what you are drinking. It is a little syrupy but the fire distracts you from this. This does start to taste like a very nice tipple.
A long and pleasant finish. The rum is not burning down the throat, rather the sweetness is lining it. The coffee flavour is evident long after swallowing.
Morning After Aroma
Very potent aromas of that coffee cream chocolate again. The bottom of the glass is quite sticky, too…more evidence of additives.
I think if this was a little higher ABV, the sweetness would be less powerful and the rum would have a chance to shine. As it is, the smoothness is superb, but it is just a little too sweet to compete at rum’s top table of tipples. I think it would be a great accompaniment to a nice strong espresso though – something I think I would very much enjoy.
Ultimately though, as a brand, Dictador are not exactly transparent and one has to question how the rum acquired these flavours and so therefore what additives it has and therefore if it is even rum at all or more like a liqueur. Furthermore if this rum is really 34 years old, why is it not more oaked? How come it costs just €140? Appleton Joy 25yo costs £200 / €225 by comparison and is 25 years old. This is especially relevant given that there are just 318 bottles. And what about the angel’s share playing its part? Presumably this is Solera ageing, and so that could mean just one drop is 34 years old.
As is often the case with Latin “rons” there are more questions than answers and probably more lies than truths.
Find out more at Dictador’s official web site here.
P Denotes the rum contains POT still distillate.
C Denotes the rum contains traditional/Coffey COLUMN still distillate.
B Denotes the rum contains a BLEND of POT and COLUMN still distillate.
M Denotes the rum contains MULTI-COLUMN still distillate or is a MODERN rum.
A Denotes the rum is an AGRICOLE i.e. from Cane Juice.
S Denotes the rum is presented in a SWEETENED style.
Bottle/Presentation Out of 3
Glass/Aroma Out of 10
Taste, Initial-middle Out of 40
Taste, Middle/Throat Out of 40
Afterburn Out of 7