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Rum Review: Joel Richard Esencia 25

Joel Richard Esencia 25 Year Rum Review

Joel Richard Esencia 25 Rum

Joel Richard is not a person, rather it’s two: Joel Beth and Richard Trachtenberg. These gentlemen are the Principles at Pacific Edge Wine and Spirits, an importer and distributor of spirits based just north of Los Angeles in Agoura Hills. You may know them as the US importers of AD Rattray and WM Cadenhead. Looking around for other offerings in the Joel Richard collection, I could only locate an extra anejo Tequila, but it appears as though they are stepping up their efforts to bring in more spirits under their own label. Today we’re looking at their Esencia rum from Colombia, which has been aged 25 years.

Distilled by Destileria Columbiana in Cartagena and blended by Dictador’s Hernan Parra, this rum is a blend of 70% column still and 30% pot still. Dictador’s rums are made from sugar cane honey (miel) and aged in Bourbon, Jerez and Port casks—I assume this is no different. (There is essentially no information available on the Esencia rum save for what’s on the label.)

The Joel Richard Esencia bottle is squat and similar to those in the Dictador line, save for the lack of black coating. There is, however, a Dictador “D” shown in raised glass. The stopper is a plastic-topped cork closure.  The handsome label was designed by Golden Creative Design, and features a bunch of information that looks great, but is ultimately of little use to the consumer. Given that the batch number is printed and not drawn on the label, this appears to be a limited run not to be reproduced.

In the glass, the rum is sort of a chestnut brown with bronze lights. A swirl of the glass produces an initial set of fast-moving legs, which are followed by droplets that form and move more slowly.

Moving in for a nosing, the immediate aroma is of young rum and ethanol—pretty surprising for a 40% ABV rum, and even more surprising for a rum purported to be twenty-five years old. After a few minutes, however, the ethanol dies down, and the familiar Dictador rancio notes dominate the aromascape.  There is a notable lack of oak for a rum of this age. The rancio notes are carried on the back of a mixture of Sherry and Port. Digging deeper into the glass, the ethanol reappears along with a bit of Nutella and an orange twist. Let’s taste.

As the rum enters, the heat and spice is proportional to the astringency noted upon nosing. The initial flavor component is a bitter, dusty wood note that has a coating effect. Now I feel as though I’m tasting a rum of advanced age. The spices are suggestive of cinnamon, cardamom and black pepper, but they are attenuated by a prominent caramel flavor. The Sherry and hazelnut is back now, as is a bit of prune, raisin, and dried apricot. On subsequent sips, the suggestion of citrus peel becomes more apparent. The finish is long and bitter, dominated by the dusty hazelnut, citrus peel, and cinnamon.

After sitting with this rum for a while, I can’t help but wonder what I’ve been drinking. Could it be a 25-Year Solera that’s been mistakenly labeled as a hard 25? I can’t say for sure. Whatever its age, one thing is for certain: this rum is quite pricey at ~$70 retail, and it’s simply not worth that much money.

On to the scores:

  • Appearance .75/1
  • Aroma 1.25/2
  • Mouth feel .75/1
  • Taste 2.75/4
  • Aftertaste 1.25/2
  • Total 6.75/10

Buy Joel Richard Esencia 25 Online





7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2015 3:53 pm

    “Could it be a 25-Year Solera that’s been mistakenly labeled as a hard 25?”

    Josh, more than a fair question and here’s why. If this rum is indeed made by Dictador it almost certainly HAS to be a solera for the simple reason that Dictador’s blends of column with pot stilled distillate – all of them – are aged in a solera system. It defies belief that Dictador would withhold a rum for separate aging for 25 years and then not promote or sell it themselves.

    As so well put in the movie Cool Hand Luke “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate”. Unless the promoters come clean and in great detail about how this apparent aberration came to be, and in the face of no regulations or government supervision guaranteeing age, and in the further face of what amounts to no more than a “trust us” claim, what are we left to think?

    Not much. I’m sure many of you remember the Zacapa 23 Anos fiasco, which later forced Diageo to change the label to something more realistic.

    Thanks for the review. On the positive side the Dictador rums have been tested for sugar and appear to be unaltered.

    • Nathan permalink
      September 13, 2016 6:27 pm

      Amd now the Zacapa and Centenario have no “yr” next to the number.

  2. jimmy guthrie permalink
    August 28, 2017 10:20 am

    Purchased a bottle of this while In Cartagena March 2016. Tried it Christmas of 2016 and it was great. Never tried again until last night 8/27/2017 and it was awful. Could not believe it.
    Tasted like a wine that had gone bad.

  3. Edijs permalink
    December 24, 2019 11:32 am

    Hi interested dictator rum joel.its possible send to Latvia and how much that cost?

  4. Thomas George Hemmen Jr permalink
    May 10, 2021 3:04 pm

    So, Joel Richard Esencia 25 Year did not impress for the price .. what rum, with similar flavor profile/elements to this rum, would you recommend instead? Would Canasteros 21 Year (Columbian, Solera process), or perhaps Kirk & Sweeney Gran Reserva (oak, raw sugar came press) be good alternative selections?


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