Review: La Marielita Rum 18 Years Old

Review: La Marielita Rum 18 Years Old

A new rum has hit the shelves in Florida, California, and New York (available nationally online), and it has a pretty powerful backstory. To wit:

Led by Janet Diaz-Bonilla, the first Cuban-American immigrant woman to found and own a rum brand, La Marielita is a proud collaboration of Janet Diaz-Bonilla and fellow Cuban rooted masterminds Francisco José “Don Pancho” Fernández Pérez, also known as the Godfather of Rum and artist Humberto Benitez. La Marielita Rum is inspired by the 1980 Mariel Boatlift, an exodus initiated by a political movement where thousands of Cubans sought refuge at the Peruvian embassy. At six-years-old, Janet Diaz-Bonilla, alongside her parents, embarked on a journey from Mariel, Cuba to Key West, Florida, only to be transferred upon arrival to a holding camp for 53 days before being awarded their freedom. Janet embarked on this journey to craft La Marielta Rum to honor and celebrate hard work, dedication to family, and gratitude for freedom.

The rum itself was distilled in Las Cabras de Pese, Panama at CLN Panama and aged in ex-bourbon casks for a minimum of 18 years (with some stocks in the blend aged up to 21 years). It is bottled without additives or artificial flavorings. Let’s check it out.

The aroma is straightforward but rich with notes of dark, torched sugar, soft oak, and cocoa. On the palate, this is a comfortably classic rum, medium-bodied and offering a well-restrained sweetness. Notes of caramelized sugar aren’t outsized or cloying but tend to dominate across the sip. A bit of cocoa powder and dried coconut eventually evolve on the mid palate but they are short-lived as the finish arrives abruptly with notes of light brown sugar, vanilla bean, and mild, lingering oak tannins. What it lacks in complexity, it almost makes up for with an impressive approachability.

80 proof.

B / $60 /

La Marielita Rum 18 Years Old




Drew Beard is assistant editor for Drinkhacker and winner of several booze-related merit badges, including Certified Specialist in Spirits and Executive Bourbon Steward. A former federal employee turned hotelier and spirits journalist, he looks forward to his next midlife crisis.

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