Santa Teresa 1796 has been a top shelf rum for years. Produced in Venezuela and aged, solera-style, in bourbon and Cognac casks, it’s a well-aged rum that contains trace amounts of rums that, by this point, are upwards of 60 years old. (Most of the rum in the solera, of course, will be considerably more youthful.)
Santa Teresa recently updated its packaging and, technically, its name, dropping the “Ron Antiguo de” from the label and sticking with the more straightforward “Solera Rum” designation. The bottle has changed as well, but the iconic dripping red wax seal on the closure remains intact.
Today we look at a fresh bottle of Santa Teresa 1796, bottled in 2020, as well as the brand’s new Cantinero Coffee Bitters, which are exclusively being offered to U.S. “on-trade” — i.e., bars. These bitters were created with Tales of the Cocktail Bartender of the Year Julio Cabrera of Miami’s Café La Trova and are made from cacao, cracked coffee beans, sarsaparilla, and molasses.
Let’s taste them both in turn (and together).
Santa Teresa 1796 Solera Rum (2020) – I tasted this side by side against my 2013 vintage bottle and am pleased to report that absolutely nothing has changed here. I was hard-pressed to tell any difference between the two rums, though my tasting notes today ran much more toward the savory. The nose is quite nutty and winey with a sherry-like influence, austere and earthy and not at all sweet save for some notes of coconut meat and almond butter. The palate is quite dry and again boldy winey, layered with notes of cloves and nutmeg as a spice element really builds up. The sweetness lives largely on the finish, with brown sugar and a restrained molasses note lingering after the more savory notes start to fade away. It’s unique and elegant, and it lends a sophisticated edge to any rum-based cocktail. (It’s even the same price today as it was 7 years ago.) 80 proof. A- / $40 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]
Santa Teresa 1796 Cantinero Coffee Bitters – These bitters are wildly expressive on the nose not just with coffee beans but also notes of cloves and chocolate. There’s also a significant curry powder note here, which can be a little off-putting at first. The palate is racy with cayenne pepper but the chocolate really dominates here. Some of that curry spice lingers on the back end, but it works surprisingly well with the pepper and mocha notes. It’s a natural companion with Santa Teresa rum, the molasses character of the rum beautifully complementing the spices in the bitters. That said, I’ll be experimenting with these well beyond rum cocktails. 92 proof. A- / not for sale