The Thursday before Easter I headed to Merchant House in the City to join Lucy, a few lovely bloggers and rum expert Jon Lister to learn all about my favourite rum - Diplomatico. Having already spent a wonderful evening with the Diplomatico family, I knew I was in for a rum fuelled treat.

Diplomatico is made in the foothills of the Andes in Venezuela and has been around since 1959. It's a family business, run by the Ballesteros, and is headed up by master blender Tito Cordero, who has twice won ‘Rum Blender of the Year’ (Golden Rum Barrel Awards) and also ‘World’s Best Master Blender’ in 2014 (Madrid International Rum Conference). Diplomatico produce six "expressions" of rum which are distributed in over 50 countries worldwide and recognized as one of the finest rums in the world. They grow three types of their own sugar cane, ensuring they only use the best quality ingredients to make their rum. Rum is made by milling and crushing the sugar cane, sending the sugar liquid to the refinery where it's boiled, centrifugued, the crystals are removed and the molasses and sugar honey are sent back to the rum producer. The fermentation process follows this and involves heat, water, yeast, molasses and/or sugar honey, which produces alcohol, and it is then distilled to increase the ABV. There are two types of distillation - column distillation, which is the most common type and the way that the molasses is distilled, and pot distillation, used for the sugar honey and in which the rum retains more flavour but the process is much more labour intensive and therefore expensive. Once distilled the light (sugar honey) and heavy (molasses) style rums are stored in ex bourbon oak barrels, and finally blended together to create the six different expressions of rum. 

The first Diplomatico rum we sampled was their Anejo, which accounts for 3% of their global sales and is actually about to be dropped from their portfolio. It's made with 95% molasses that's been aged for 2 years, and 5% 4 year old sugar honey, with an ABV of 40%. It has notes of tropical banana, brown sugar and apricot, all of which were enhanced after we ate a little bit of flapjack and dry apricot. This was my least favourite of the six.

Rum #2 was the Blanco, made from 50% 6 year old sugar honey that's been charcoal filtered and 50% 2-4 year old charcoal filtered molasses. It tasted of creamy coconut, latte, vanilla, jersey milk, white chocolate and spice and is delicious served as a cocktail with coconut water and a sprig of mint. A little bite of white chocolate and coconut really brought out the flavours of this rum.

Next was the Reserva, which is known as the bartender's friend as it can be sipped, shaken, mixed or on the rocks. It's got flavours of winter spice, orange, tannins, muscavado and caramel. It's made from 50% 8 year old sugar honey and 50% 2-4 year old molasses.


Number 4 of the evening was Diplomatico's flagship rum, that accounts for 80-90% of their annual production - the Reserva Exclusiva. Made with 80% 12 year old sugar honey and 20% 2-4 year old molasses, the Exclusiva has a really broad spectrum of flavour - it tastes of caramel, chocolate, silky syrup, Christmas cake, espresso and vanilla, all of which were enhanced by the coffee bean, raisin and 76% St Lucian dark chocolate we ate with it. It pairs so well with chocolate and was the rum I served with my hazelnut and chestnut pavlova with hot chocolate sauce at my December pop up.
The Vintage 2001 Diplomatico we sampled next is so called because the sugar cane used to make the rum all grew in 2001 - a particularly good year for sugar cane. It's the newest addition to portfolio and is made with 90% 12 year old sugar honey and 10% kettle batch, which is in between sugar and molasses. The rum is then stored in Olorosso sherry barrels for a year after its 12 years in bourbon barrels. It's 43% abv, drier and more savoury but also caramel, and is the perfect drink to accompany a cigar, if that's your thing! There were only 300,000 bottles made of this rum.

Finally we tried the Ambassador, the premium Diplomatico rum, that retails at around £200+ per bottle. It's made from 15 select barrels and is 100% sugar honey aged in an ex bourbon cask for 12 years, then in a Pedro Jimenez sweet sherry cask,for two years. It's 47% ABV which carries the intense raisin flavour notes. It is absolutely delicious, and very dangerous for me to have discovered such a wonderful rum that's so expensive! Not all Diplomatico is expensive though and you can enjoy the other expressions which retail from £30 a bottle, which is fantastic value for the quality of the rum. If you're a rum fan, and haven't tried Diplomatico, do ask for it next time you're ordering your rum on the rocks, or even your rum cocktail. It's better than any rum I've tried, and I've sampled a few....!!


  1. I never did a rum tasting but would seriously love to!

    1. If you get the chance, do it! Highly recommended.

      Rosie xx

  2. What a great way to give rum a try - otherwise you can end up buying something expensive only to find that you don't like it! I did a sweet wine tasting and it was such a brilliant way to learn what I liked and didn't!

    Laura xx | Loved By Laura

    1. Such a great chance to try a brilliant range of rums. I love doing tastings like this. Where did you do the sweet wine one?

      Rosie xx


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