If you see a cocktail on a menu with Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva in the ingredient list, buy it. Doesn’t much matter what else is in it. I guarantee you’re going to have a hell of a good drink.
Exclusiva is the top of Diplomatico’s “tradition” line — though there’s a pair of “prestige” rums above this, but those are crazy expensive. This Venezuela-born rum spends up to 12 years in oak casks. That’s not insanely old in the rum world, but the dense chocolate brown color of the rum sure makes it seem like it’s been in cask for considerably longer than that.
Exclusiva features heavy notes of coffee, licorice, and dark brown sugar — both on the nose and much more intensely in on the palate. Dark chocolate is heavy on the finish, with a touch of maple bar. The rum is extremely gentle and pleasant, no burn or bite at all — to the point of dangerousness. It’s simply far too easy to sip on glass after glass of this stuff without realizing quite how much you’re drinking.
Ultimately, there’s nothing much surprising about Exclusiva, but it hits all the right notes you want in a nicely aged rum — and the bottle looks like something Jack Sparrow would drink out of. Epic win.
Update 5/2017: To address some of the controversy in the comments below, I asked Diplomatico for more information about its production process. The company replied:
Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva is a well balanced blended rum, aged for up to twelve years, and designed to have a round and complex taste. To achieve this, we were inspired by the Champagne industry and their “dosage” method using a “liqueur d’expédition”. At the end of their production process, they integrate a wine liquor to define the profile of each type of champagne: Brut, Sec or Demi-Sec. At Diplomático this liquor combines aged heavy rums, distilled in copper pot stills, and Venezuelan refined sugar. After preparation, this liquor is aged for a few additional months to allow a perfect combination of the ingredients.
In Venezuela, the DOC (Controlled Designation of Origin) “Ron de Venezuela”, and the alcoholic beverages legislation allow the use of sugar in rum production. So it’s really up to each producer, depending on the taste profile that they are looking for their rums, to add sugar or not. What is unique and innovative with Diplomático is the “dosage” method applied to some of our rums, depending on their profile, to reach the perfect balance that we are looking for.
Some of the requirements of the DOC “Ron de Venezuela” include:
A spirit made from sugar cane molasses exclusively produced in Venezuela
Aged in white oak casks for a minimum of 2 years