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Rum Review: Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva 

Diplomatico Reserva ExclusivaMy first Venezuelan rum review is of Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva. Their Web site describes the blend as being made of 80% “heavy” and 20 % “light” rums aged for up to twelve years. Packaged in a tube suitable for gifting, this rum is contained in a frosted green bottle with a label reminiscent of a postage stamp. Although I’m not entirely sold on the frosting, the bottle is well-conceived save for the cap. I was surprised to find a plastic twist-on cap on a rum in this category, but I was completely shocked to find a plastic insert within the bottle top that made pouring a chore. If you drink tequila, you may have seen a similar (but better performing) version of this technology in a bottle of Cazadores. When inverted, the pourer required a little encouragement to fill my tasting snifter.

Once in the glass, we can begin to appreciate the deep mahogany color of this rum. A swirl in the glass produces a ring that quickly produces a great number of slender legs that move slowly back to the bowl.

The nose contains a very minor astringency, and is dominated by notes of caramel, toffee and crème. On the back end of the aromas, I can detect a hint of smoke and pineapple.

Now to taste.

The mouth feel is slick and a significant amount of heat hits the rear palate as I swallow. The mellow aroma gave no indications of this spiciness; however, the smoky notes translate more predictably into a vegetal flavor that conjures up an image of tobacco leaves. It’s as though the minimal processing of the cane honey used to make this blend maintains an minor agricole quality. Adding to the flavor mix is vanilla along with a pronounced oak note. The finish brings  orange combined with the aforementioned pineapple, and a blend of citrus.

To sum up, this is a fine blend–especially at a price of ~$30. I also think this rum has ample mixing opportunities, but alas, those will have to wait for another day.

Now for the scores:

  • Appearance: 1/1
  • Nose: 2/2
  • Mouth feel: .5/1
  • Taste: 3.5/4
  • Aftertaste: 1/2
  • Total Score: 8/10

Buy Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva online

What do you think of Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva? Please share your comments below.
29 Comments leave one →
  1. September 10, 2012 11:55 pm

    Nice review,

    When I first tried DRE, I was thoroughly impressed and quickly the bottle was gone. It is very tasty. However I believe it is significantly enhanced and that took the shine off it for me. I know that’s a bit of purist snobbery but I couldn’t help but feel I had been tricked. If the additives were stated on the bottle and I was aware then perhaps my ill feeling of being duped would of been nullified. I would of bought another bottle. As it stands I haven’t been buying more of this rum out of sheer spite and not really based on taste.
    Taste 8.5/10
    Apparent distilling skill without the need to enhance 3/10
    Apparent honesty 1/10

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      September 11, 2012 8:05 am

      There are so many additives in so many rums – vanilla, sugar, molasses, caramel — I would love to see truth in labeling. If it didn’t come from the still or the barrel, it should end up on the label.

    • April 12, 2013 6:11 am

      Diplomatico Exclusiva contains a bit of sweet cane liqueur which contributes to the profile. It happens to be the best after-dinner rum liqueur I’ve ever tried, named Hacienda Saruro. The Reserva is a better choice for those that prefer a dry rum profile, or stick with the expressions made by Richard Seale of Barbados, always dry, un-contrived and authentic — such as Doorly’s XO. Do not judge a rum with a sweet profile as a dupe. The public prefers the sweeter, vanilla forward taste profiles by a wide margin, so many rums are moving in that direction.

      • April 12, 2013 7:10 am

        I don’t judge a rum with a sweet profile as dupe, but a rum that has been adulterated with liqueur and sold as pure premium rum is a dupe. DRE may be what the aspartame generation want to fill the gap between red bulls and coke but Rum is Rum not a concoction of additives and sweeteners, be it liqueur or not. It should be labelled as a Rum with liqueur. The fact that it isn’t shows that although, as you say Mr Burr ‘the public prefer sweet vanilla profiles’, that the manufacturers of such treacle are well aware that the public also want un adulterated rum or pure rum.and are being duped into thinking that this concoction is it.
        Those who care think that there is obviously a place for Rum liqueurs like DRE and also believe the market can handle additive ladened rums like Zacapa or Zaya. The general thought though is they MUST be labelled as such and let the buyer make an informed decision.
        PS Do you have financial ties with Diplomatico either directly or indirectly through either your promotional Rum festival or other means?

      • April 12, 2013 7:35 am

        I won’t call such a reaction naive, but unless you’ve been asleep over the past decade when copious discussions on such matters have filled the rumspace, the issue of sweeteners added to rums is old news. 90% of rums have added color, enhancements, tweaks, blends, interesting barrelings with influences from Bourbons, Sherries, Ports, Scotches, Madeira, Cognac and many other non-rum sources. Rum is a rogue spirit. It always has been. Some countries have rules. They all differ greatly. There is no public outcry for unadulterated rum. Rum is fun. It tastes good. It makes you happy. “The general thought though is they MUST be labelled as such” is nonsense, but you’re free to knock yourself out with your crusade to save the world. An effort to attack my credibility by suggesting financial ties is misplaced; I have none. I spend quite a lot of my time and resources studying rum, visiting distilleries, interviewing master distillers and blenders on my own dime. Do you?

      • Dai permalink
        April 15, 2013 1:23 am

        As an ordinary consumer I would like to see rum labeled with the additives used and the amounts used. I don’t like paying premium prices for products that are not of premium quality or standard by way of additives used to alter said product to make it taste like quality then being ripped off in the price (in other words I’m just paying for flavoring and additives not rum or aging). I don’t mind paying for artisan or craftsmanship, aging etc but when I do pay for that that is what I expect to receive not rum altered by additives masquerading as premium rum.

  2. November 24, 2012 4:38 pm

    Hey Josh, thanks for the review – hope you don’t mind I linked it to the “pro bloggers” secton of the Diplomatico page on RR 🙂

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      November 26, 2012 9:09 pm

      Happy to be linked up, Andy! Cheers!

  3. April 12, 2013 7:43 am

    Regardless of the fact that it’s old news, it is still relevant that these things be labelled. Just because something has being going on unchecked doesn’t make it correct. People are not being informed on what they are spending their own dimes on. As for it being nonsense, ask anyone whether they think it right that ALL additives be labelled on rum or any consumable product for that matter. Hell they even make them add all the chemicals on shampoo. As for your selfless devotion to rum. You make money fro it don’t you? That’s not researching on your own dime that’s investing in a business you like to profit from. Nothing wrong with that as long as it#s all out in the open and honest.

    • April 12, 2013 7:54 am

      I like this web site. I like Josh. I like rum. Rum is fun. I like reading reviews. Rum people are fun people. I don’t appreciate negative, argumentative people who invade the fun rum space. Start a web site for rum arguments and see how that goes. I hope you’ll decide to leave this site to the fun rum people.

      • April 12, 2013 8:07 am

        Now you’re just being petulant. I like rum and Josh as well. Maybe we could be buddies? After all, we have so much in common. If voicing an opinion that isn’t the same as yours is being a negative person then guilty as charged. I think wanting/wishing rum to be properly labelled and hoping for more transparency and honesty in the industry is extremely positive. Wanting to keep the status quo of mystery ingredients and fantastical marketing claims seems to be a negative approach to me. It’s all love and mungbeans on my side of the pond Mr Burr.

      • Tom Carnwell permalink
        April 14, 2013 11:53 am

        I can’t take seriously those who attack the person with a contrary opinion instead of attacking the premise. What ever happened to gentlemanly discourse?

    • Andrew permalink
      April 13, 2013 7:00 am

      Hey MJ – like Josh I’d like to see truth in labeling but, I also agree with Robert that with such dispersed country rules and local traditions it’s difficult to change the status quo.

      I don’t know how the single malt whisky, irish whisky, or American bourbon industries Capn Jimbo mentioned have come to reject additives, but creating some kind of “pure rum” certification might be an interesting idea.

      The hope would be over time consumers were made aware of the different production methods and then voted to reject additives with their wallets. This would be similar to how the fairtrade coffee standards has become increasingly popular (1).

      I’m sure it would be quite an undertaking to create and monitor such a certification, but I’d bet the few producers that qualify would group together and financially support it a mutual promotion effort. For what it’s worth, if this ever happened I’d be happy to display the certification on as well.

      • April 13, 2013 7:22 am

        Hi Andrew,
        to force rum producers to label all additives would not be a great undertaking. It is done with nearly every other food stuff/consumable in the world. As I jokingly referred to earlier, they even manage to get shampoo to list all the ingredients and that is a list like the periodic table. At the moment and for a little while now there has been a resurgence in the popularity of rum and with the weak controls that rum has in comparison to Whisky etc it has brought out the marketing and manufacturing grubs. They are those who prey on the uneducated and would gladly sell a bottle of adulterated, low skill and poorly made swill for a premium price just because it has a fancy label and is in a stylish bottle.
        Those unscrupulous people normally sound the same, ‘it’s all good’ ‘relax, rum is supposed to be fun’ ‘just lie back and don’t worry about it’ ‘take what we tell you is the good stuff and don’t ask questions’.
        Rum desperately needs regulatory labelling as it would kick these a***holes in the teeth overnight. Pretty hard to sell swill for 50+ $ when it’s forced to say that they’ve added half a kilo of sugar and flavouring. Any true rum lover wouldn’t buy that shite.
        P.S Your rumratings site is well done, thumbs up.

      • April 13, 2013 7:44 am

        It only takes one country – the United States – to amend or perhaps more simply – to simply enforce the regulations. In the meanwhile those of us who review rums and discuss it have the absolute obligation to be honest and to express our opinions.

        Waiting for a “standard” to emerge elsewhere is an exercise in futility. And consider this: some of the countries (like the US and others) DO make a clear distinction between “rum” and “flavored rum”. Regardless though – what prevents a producer from simply being honest and stating on their website or label just what’s in it? Not doing so and avoiding doing so speaks volumes.

        Example: Gin. Producers are under no obligation to label the flavorings and botanicals used, but they do! Why? Because they are simply being honest, and are proud of their additions and actually promote what they add. Rum? Wants to hide the alterations.

        If a rum tastes altered, or if we have cause to believe so, then our readers deserve our honest opinion. With this in mind, allow me to expose yet another rum that few know is altered:

        Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva

        Turns out the company was run by two entities (both family corporations) that ended up suing one another for alteration of the “recipe”. The 8th District Court of Appeals overruled the lower court’s damages, and in their opinion stated the cause: that the producing family stopped using macerated prunes and vanilla beans and began using commercial extracts.

        No matter: in either case the “rum” is actually flavored with a form of prunes and vanilla. It shouldn’t have taken a published decision of the Court in a civil matter to learn that….

      • Dai permalink
        April 13, 2013 1:58 pm

        It’s not difficult to change the rules on labeling additives on rum it takes two countries so to speak, one country and one collection of countries trying to be one country. All it takes is the USA and the EU to make it law that all additives need to be labeled that’s it.

  4. April 13, 2013 4:45 am

    Good evening gentlemen. And Mr. Burr too, lol.

    I was just made aware of this interesting exchange, and it seems that Mr. Burr is – so far – the odd man out. The Miami event will bill over a million dollars by my reckoning so it’s rather disingenous to claim independence from an extremely profitable event whose commitment to pure and unadulterated rum seems absent, not to mention making public statements against even the Petition to Save Caribbean Rum.

    Another commercial operator likes to call rum “the noble spirit” – noblesse oblige is more like it – where unlabeled adulterants are just fine as long as the liquid in the bottle “tastes good”. Spare me.. Thanks too for quoting Richard Seale: a distiller who is not alone in rejecting such cheap and rumlike concoctions that are nothing more than NAS molassess beer stripped to within an inch of it’s life, to gain all the tasteless alcohol possible – then made “rumlike” with all manner of artificial flavorings, sugar, glyerol, prune extact, sherry, ad infinitum.

    And compare to single malt whisky, irish whisky, or American bourbon – all of which reject the idea of unlabeled adulturants, and which are pure as the driven snow in comparison to the witches’ brew promoted as “rum”. Even vodka labels labels its flavored products. Gin? The same: in fact most of the botanicals are listed and promoted. Cognac? Armagnac? Rhum agricole/cane juice rums? Cachaca?

    MInd you I know MJ and Josh to be true lovers of rum, not mislabeled delivery systems for sugar and artificial flavors.

    • Zaka permalink
      September 15, 2014 12:07 am

      For a guy that rejected Rhum Agricoles for the exact same reasons he is defending now, is quite an impressive heel turn! Or maybe it was just because they are Frenchm therefore snob…

      • September 15, 2014 4:47 am

        Not at all. I have long held that cane juice rums (it’s the snobs who call it Rhum Agricole) are generally quite pure and free of the unlabelled additives and adulterants of most of the molasses-based rums.

        I have long lauded especially Barbancourt as world class and by far the best value in the cane juice category. My only criticism of the Martiniquean cane juice rums by regulation is their outrageous and unjustified costs for relatively young CJ rums. But never on the basis of additives.

  5. Starztts permalink
    December 21, 2013 7:29 am

    All this conversation is very healthy and interesting and represents the same problems that are being experienced with the wine industry. In Europe, the blending of wines is regulated and this had not allowed the industry to experiment different blends. This rigid restriction has led to “new world” wines where the blending is not restricted and lovely wines have been produced. With regard to rum, there is no restriction regarding the blending and like the New World wines, lovely rums have been produced. The big question is am i getting the correct bang for the buck. At $5K for the Appleton 50yr old and who knows how much for the Angostura Legacy, does the taste justify the price. Good sipping rums have only been around a short time and like other industries, the blending of rum too will evolve.
    For now, I love it.

  6. Gary permalink
    July 1, 2014 6:26 pm

    Great review. Nailed it on the flavor/taste components of this rum– good job!

  7. August 19, 2014 10:10 am

    Sipped it is sweet, rich, balanced and orangey. Like Tuaca. I think you could mix it if you needed to add some sweetness and orange to a drink.

  8. May 26, 2017 6:53 am

    Despite the comments as to the merits of a pure unadulterated rum vs those that have been tinkered with – as a novice yet one who prefers aged rums over all other distilled spirits – all I can say is I go with what “I” like and Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva and Zacapa 23 are by far my 2 favorite rums for sipping on a few cubes of ice – after taste tasting most of the aged rums in the $30-50 price range available to me. I have several bottles of competitors that languish on the shelf in my bar – yet I repeatedly purchase these 2 rums.

  9. May 26, 2017 6:57 am


  10. January 14, 2023 8:04 pm

    Thanks for thee post


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