Ron Diplomático is produced by Destilirías Unidas, the largest distiller in Venezuala. Started in 1959 by Seagrams, the estate grows its own sugarcane, which is processed by a local plant, which then provides the distillery with all the molasses it needs. They also produce grain spirits such as vodka, gin, and whiskey for the local market, but they are best known for their rums.
Unidas uses a combination of column and pot stills to produce their rums. As an interesting note, all of their mash is initially distilled in column stills up to ~56% alcohol, then redistilled in either a column or a pot still.
The rum is made from molasses (the website and other copy repeatedly use the word 'honey', but as far as I can tell this means molasses rather than cane juice) and aged exclusively in ex-bourbon barrels. While there is no age statement on the label, Diplomático's website claims that the rums going into their Reserva Exclusiva expression are aged for 12 years. The rum is then diluted down to 40% ABV for bottling.
Nose: sweet vanilla, molasses, berries, tropical fruits, notes of artificial chocolate - kind of like Hershey's chocolate syrup, cinnamon, oak. After adding a few drops of water, the nose becomes lighter and slightly hollow.
Taste: syrupy sweetness throughout, big burst of pepper, vanilla, oak, and bitter molasses near the back along with Hershey's chocolate syrup. After dilution, the palate becomes much thinner, with little but bittersweet molasses left.
Finish: light vanilla, pepper heat, and bitter molasses - an artificial tang lingers
This is exactly what Cap'n Jimbo describes as a 'twiggie rum'. Syrupy sweet throughout, it appears to have been modified to produce something almost like a rum liqueur. The sense of an artificial cast over everything was impossible for me to avoid and made for a rather unpleasant experience. This saddened me greatly because it seemed like there was a really good rum underneath. The combination of classic rum elements of molasses and vanilla along with strong berry and tropical fruits notes was a really engaging combination. But as it stands, I actually tossed the last of my second dram because I couldn't stand to drink any more. Hopefully this fad for modified rums will pass and they can come out with a cleaner product, because I think they can make much better rums than this Frankenstein monstrosity.
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