Diplomatico Rum with Master Blender Tito Cordero

EDV Bar in Melbourne hosted a trade Diplomatico Rum masterclass with Master Blender Tito Cordero, President Jose Ballesteros and Global Export Manager, Patrick Rabion.

The masterclass was presented by Tito Cordero in Spanish and translated into English by Patrick Rabion and included a rare tasting of four types of distillates that go into making the Venezuelan rum.

Diplomatico Rum Masterclass
L-R: Tito Cordero, Patrick Rabion

Diplomatico Rum is made in the Destilerias Unidas SA (DUSA) in the town of La Miel in the centre of Venezuela, a region located at the foot of the Andes Mountains. 80% of the country’s total sugar cane is produced from around the distillery as the micro climate is conducive to sugar cane production.

Diplomatico Rum is produced from sugar cane honey and molasses using their own yeast. They use a combination of traditional and artisanal methods and have a unique distillation process involving column stills, barbet columns, batch kettle and pot stills which allows light, medium and full bodied alcohols to be produced. Each distillate is aged separately then blended to make the end product. Venezuela has its own DOC for rum with strict rules and as such all Venezuelan rum must be aged for a minimum of 2 years in barrels.

When it comes to fermentation, sugar cane honey can takes 2 days in a pot still. It’s more expensive to produce and each batch uses fresh yeast. Fermentation of molasses takes 24 hours a in a column still and the yeast is recycled.

Diplomatico Rum Masterclass

The tasting began with the four different distillates diluted to 20% ABV for tasting. First was the Column Still Distillate, produced by a highly technical automated process which produces very light alcohol with clean, subtle and lightly floral and grassy notes with hints of vanilla. This distillate is the most important component of the anejo rum after barrel ageing.

Next was the Barbet Column Distillate which is a column still where the distance between the plates creates a different style of alcohol. This spirit has more pronounced vanilla notes with sweetness, butterscotch and caramel with some lactic notes on the palate.

The Batch Kettle Distillate is the result of a batch kettle from Canada used to produce whisky and is a combination of column and pot stills. The spirit is a semi heavy alcohol with fruity, floral and estery notes, sweetness, and a clean palate with floral undertones.

The Pot Still Distillate is the essence of the Diplomatico range producing a more complex end product. The pot stills are whisky stills from Scotland.

The spirits are aged separately between 2 and 14 years. Mostly ex bourbon barrels are used, as well as ex whisky, PX and Oloroso sherry. Lighter alcohols need 3 to4 years to get to optimum maturation while pot still distillates need longer in barrels, about 4 to 12 years. Heavy alcohols are put into 180 litre barrels at 50% ABV while the lighter spirits go in at 65% ABV.

Diplomatico Rum Masterclass

Diplomatico Rum Tasting Notes

Diplomatico Blanco is the brand’s premium sipping white rum made from 50% light distillate and 50% heavy pot still rum, aged between 2 and 6 years in oak barrels. The liquid develops a golden colour which is then removed by charcoal filtration to create a clear spirit and adds an element of smoothness. On the nose, it has aromas of vanilla, coconut and hints of oak while the palate is creamy and complex. Diplomatico Blanco is recommended as a sipping rum or with an ice cube. It goes well with a delicate tonic with a hint of orange such as 1724 Argentinian tonic.

Diplomatico Reserva is made from 50% pot stills and 50% batch and column stills in different percentages than the white rum and is aged between 2-8 years. Aromas of vanilla, caramel and some spice lead to caramel sweetness, spice and a hint of orange. This rum can be drunk neat but is ideal for cocktails.

Diplomatico Rum Masterclass

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva is the flagship rum accounting for 75% of sales. It’s made from 80% pot still aged for 12 years in American white oak barrels and 20% light and semi heavy alcohols. Designed for after dinner sipping, it has burnt caramel, banana, orange peel and brown sugar notes along with oak and maple syrup. Tito Cordero calls it, “un ron seductor” or a seductive rum. It’s recommended neat , on ice or in an Old Fashioned cocktail.

Diplomatico Single Vintage 2000 is part of the prestige collection which includes the rare Diplomatico Ambassador. This rum is made using 90% heavy pot still spirits and 10% batch kettle spirits and all the rums that make up the blend are of the same year, in this case the year 2000. The rum was bottled in 2014 which makes it 14 years old then has an additional year in Olorosso sherry casks. Unlike other Diplomatico rums, Diplomatico Single Vintage 2000 is bottled at 43% ABV not 40% like the rest. Oak notes along with vanilla, almonds and spice lead to a smooth palate with crème brûlée, brown sugar and spice. This is a distinguished rum and Tito Cordero says pairs well with cigars.

In the series… Be the Face of Diplomático Rum and our exclusive one on one interview with Jose Ballesteros, Tito Cordero & Patrick Rabion.

The Diplomatico Rum masterclass with Tito Cordero was held at EDV Bar in Melbourne on Tuesday 15 September 2015. Gourmantic travelled to Melbourne as guests of Baranows Emporium and Diplomatico Rum.

Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.