Review: Brugal 1888 and Coleccion Visionaria Edicion 01, Cacao (2023)

Review: Brugal 1888 and Coleccion Visionaria Edicion 01, Cacao (2023)

The latest rum brand to move upmarket is the Dominican Republic’s Brugal, which recently dropped its first ultra-premium limited edition release, the first in a new line of rums called Colección Visionaria.

The idea here: use a new “Aromatic Cask Toasting technique” to infuse barrels with an unexpected but complementary flavor — in this case, chocolate:

Brugal rums are 100% Dominican, and this collection is no exception. The Maestros carefully selected the finest natural ingredients from their beloved homeland, the Dominican Republic to craft the most authentic ultra-premium sipping rum. For this first edition of Colección Visionaria, Brugal hand-selected one of the island’s most cherished treasures, cacao beans, and infused the toasted casks with their distinct nutty, velvety and fruity aromas.

“One of my most cherished childhood memories is walking amongst the cacao trees surrounding my family home. I remember the lush and green cacao fields, the bittersweet scent of the cacao pods, and the rich aromas of roasted beans,” says distiller Jassil Villanueva Quintana. “It’s this memory I wanted to recreate with the first edition of Colección Visionaria.”

The collection, expertly crafted by the fifth generation of family maestros, embodies Brugal’s visionary spirit and over 135 years of wood and cask expertise. Each generation of Brugal family Maestros has played an essential role in carrying out the brand’s legacy and passion for rum-making. Just like her predecessors, Villanueva Quintana has dedicated herself to creating truly exceptional rums, uncovering a new wave of rum making with Brugal’s innovative cask toasting technique used to craft Colección Visionaria.

Completely unique to Brugal, the toasting process begins with the selection of the finest virgin European oak casks. Each cask is thoughtfully toasted with hand-picked Dominican cacao beans – infusing them with its organic, aromatic notes. The cacao beans are then removed before the rum is added into the toasted casks, saturating the liquid with the aromas created by the toasting process before they are aged to perfection under the Dominican sun. This new technique adds a layer of depth and complexity to the liquid without the cacao beans ever touching the rum directly. The result is a rich, elegant, and well-rounded sipping rum, without any added sugars or additives.

We review this new release alongside a fresh look at one of Brugal’s most classic expressions, 1888, in the coverage that follows.

Brugal Colección Visionaria Edición 01, Cacao – I was expecting a chocolate bomb with this release, but the reality is something much more refined. Chocolate barely makes an impact on the nose, which comes across with notes of cinnamon-dusted cappuccino paired against dusky barrel char and a hint of raisiny Port wine. Complex and inviting, you’ll find the cacao making more of an appearance on the palate, where the rum evokes a heavier Dutch process cocoa powder character, backed with well-toasted caramel and notes of dried plums, then smoldering notes of allspice. That raisin quality pushes into the finish, giving the fade-out a dark, fruity sweetness. That of course pairs beautifully with chocolate across the board. Raisinettes, anyone? 90 proof. A- / $100 [BUY IT NOW FROM RESERVEBAR]

Brugal 1888 Doblemente Anejado Gran Reserva (2023) – We last encountered 1888, the top shelf of Brugal’s standard lineup, back in 2011 when it was first released. The packaging has changed since then — it’s now wrapped in a string netting — as has the name, slightly, which now focuses on its double barrel aging process. The production however seems more or less the same: aged for up to 8 years in bourbon casks, then finished in oloroso sherry (time unstated). Oxidized sherry notes hit the nose immediately, alongside a coffee bean quality and a well-charred oak character. This is a bold, aggressive rum that feels like it might overwhelm the palate, but ample sweetness here tempers the punch. Raisiny fruit, brewed tea, and some toasted coconut notes all add an island quality to the mix, with a squeeze of torched orange peel across the top. Toasty and oaky on the back end, there’s a reprise of coffee and a slight tropical edge late in the game. The sherry influence lingers but not as strongly as I suggested back in 2011. Whether that’s my palate or an evolving spirit is left as an exercise for the reader. Either way, it’s still solid stuff. 80 proof. A- / $42 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS] [BUY IT NOW FROM THE WHISKY EXCHANGE]

Brugal Colección Visionaria Edición 01, Cacao




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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