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Rum Review: Barcelo Imperial

Ron Barcelo Imperial Review

Ron Barcelo Imperial

My first experience with Ron Barcelo was not pleasant. I purchased a bottle of their white rum as part of our 32 light rum blind tasting, and it was one of the worst. But despite that poor showing, I had heard good things about their aged rums, so when I found a bottle of their Imperial while visiting family in Florida, I picked one up to take home.

The Ron Barcelo Imperial bottle shape is essentially a rounded off rectangle. And at 5.125” (13 cm) wide, it’s tough to find a home for it on the shelf. This is the type of bottle bartenders complain about, so marketing folks take note! You may have thought the wide bottle would make your product more visible on the back bar, but it’s just as likely to be turned sideways to make room for another (reasonably shaped) bottle of your competitor’s product. The closure system could use some work as well. While I don’t mind artificial cork stoppers, this one is a bit jarring because it is so wide. Coming in just under an inch, the tan material reminds me of a partially amputated thumb.

OK, enough bashing on the packaging, let’s see how it tastes. In the glass, the rum presents a rich copper bronze with hints of gold and mahogany. A swirl creates a laser-thin ring and a hundred droplets that almost refuse to leave their rummy friends atop the glass.

The nose is just mildly astringent; the initial aromas are of fruit macerating in sugar. Pear is jumping out of the glass with orange esters and green apple. It’s very bright in its fruitiness. Let’s have a taste…

The initial sensation is true to the nose—bright and bursting with sour fruits. These flavors are quickly supported by a oaken base layer that implies some serious aged rums of the Cuban tradition are here. The entire affair is suggestive of sweetness while maintaining a dryness not always found in Dominican rums. This base layer is flavorful—I’m tasting fortified wine notes and bittersweet chocolate now along with a bit of blood orange and grapefruit. The finish is lively and piquant, leaving the palate coated with a sense of oak.

To sum up, Ron Barcelo Imperial is a unique rum. I can’t recall another aged rum in my collection that opens with sour apple and pear and leaves you feeling as though you’ve just taken a nap in a sherry cask. So while this isn’t exactly my prescription for a perfect sipping rum, I must give it points for originality.

On to the scores:

  • Appearance: 1/1
  • Nose: 1.75/2
  • Mouth feel: .75/1
  • Taste: 3/4
  • Aftertaste: 1.5/2
  • Total Score: 8/10

Buy Barcelo Imperial online

Have you tried Barcelo Imperial? Please share your thoughts below!


8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 14, 2013 2:12 pm

    Was this the 38% version or something stronger?

    • March 14, 2013 2:14 pm

      Oh yeah…how much did it cost? I’ve always resisted buying it because here it costs ~$100 and at that pusillanimous 38%, it didn’t interest me enough.

      • Josh Miller permalink*
        March 14, 2013 2:52 pm

        $100??? That’s highway robbery! This is 40%, and it was only about $30.

      • March 15, 2013 9:43 am

        Just checked and got my rums mixed up on my database: $50, not $100, but definitely 38%.

      • Scott Thomas permalink
        June 13, 2013 6:38 am

        I picked this up on closeout from Hitime for $20, after I tried it I went back to get more and it was gone 😦

      • Josh Miller permalink*
        June 13, 2013 7:34 am

        Wow–that was a heck of a deal! It’s still widely available, albeit at a higher price–you can get it from Total Wine for $34:

  2. Charlie permalink
    March 15, 2014 6:55 pm

    This rum can be had for $30 out the door at ABC Fine Wines when in stock, in the states. I just performed that motion.
    At $20 a pop beast?… by regulation you must pick up a minimum of 3 bottles, as if “buy 2, get one free” in the states…if you know what I mean…


  1. New Rum Review: Ron Barcelo Imperial | Inu a Kena

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