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Caribbean Treasure: Discovering the Rich Heritage of Ron Barceló Imperial Rum

Published: April 18, 2024
Distilled from the finest Dominican sugarcane juice, Ron Barceló rums are then meticulously blended and aged in whiskey and bourbon barrels. (Image: Courtesy of Ron Barcelo Rums)

Published with permission from LuxuryWeb Magazine

Originating from the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, once a stronghold of some of the most infamous pirates — Henry Morgan, Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, Calico Jack, and Bartholomew Roberts — Ron Barceló Imperial Rum embodies a treasure that any 16th or 17th-century privateer would have prized.

Today, this premium rum is crafted in the Dominican Republic, the eastern half of Hispaniola, using column stills. The rum is distilled from the finest Dominican sugarcane juice, then meticulously blended and aged in whiskey and bourbon barrels.

A sublime sipping experience

When savored with just a touch of water, much like one would enjoy a single malt whisky, Ron Barceló Imperial offers a sublime sipping experience.

The rum itself displays a rich copper bronze hue with golden and mahogany reflections. The aroma is delicate yet complex, featuring vanilla, bittersweet chocolate, and smoky oak. These are beautifully accented with notes of pear, grapefruit, lemon zest, and ginger. The palate is well-rounded, presenting sweet toffee, brown spices, mocha, and a robust toasted quality that gracefully recedes. Its finish is extensive and textured, marked by cedar and cigar box nuances.

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(Image: Manos Angelakis/LuxuryWeb Magazine)

Promotional materials from the producer suggest that the rum includes elements aged up to six years, though some reviewers and the official website note ages of up to ten years. It seems the distillery strives for a consistent flavor profile, prioritizing taste over age.

Presented in an eye-catching box, Ron Barceló Imperial is housed in a large, elegantly designed, flat, stubby glass flask capped with a sizable cork stopper. This complex and original rum is likely to attract a broad range of aficionados.

The Caribbean is renowned for producing an array of exceptional rums or “rhums,” with spelling variations reflecting the linguistic diversity of the islands—French, English, Spanish, Dutch, or Creole. Each island’s unique sugarcane production, soil type, and manufacturing techniques contribute to distinct rum profiles.

Cocktails abound

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While many producers favor column stills, traditionalists opt for alembic (pot) stills. Aging processes also vary widely, with some rums matured in second-hand oak barrels that previously contained bourbon, single malt, port, or sherry, adding unique flavors and aromas. In contrast, others may use stainless steel or neutral oak for aging. Typically, lighter, un-aged rums are mixed in cocktails, whereas darker, molasses-derived rums are enjoyed with a splash of water or an ice cube.

I personally boast a collection of rums from various islands I’ve visited, each with its own distinct flavor. For example, from Haiti, located on the western half of Hispaniola, the Rhum Barbancourt Estate Reserve offers a delightful 15-year-old, clear amber sipping rum. Meanwhile, their lighter, younger rums are predominantly used in cocktails like Hurricanes, frozen Daiquiris, Piña Coladas, and Cuba Libre.

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From Tortola, I am particularly fond of Sebastian’s Rum, produced under license in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island. It delivers a rich, aromatic taste that excels both on the rocks and in cocktails. However, the purported legend of Sebastian, a notorious pirate allegedly shipwrecked at Tortola’s Little Apple Bay where he concocted his rum recipe, is a charming yet dubious tale. It claims that as he mused, “Dead men tell no tales,” rum casks washed ashore, which he mixed with local fruit juices — a story as flavorful as the drink itself!

Among the myriad of cocktails featuring rum, the Rum Runner stands out. It offers a distinctive tropical flavor enhanced by the spicy complexity of the rum. Ingredients include dark and white rums, crème de banana, blackberry liqueur, orange juice, pineapple juice, lime juice, and grenadine — a refreshing concoction perfect for summer days. Just remember, moderation is key!

Cheer’s to your health!

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