Ron Barcelo Imperial is a rum that I have been destined to obtain a bottle of since I was first given a taste of it by Keith at Corks Out in Timperley. I had arrived to pick up a bottle of Gosling’s Black Seal (I also left with a bottle of Chairmans Reserve which will be reviewed later) and was given a taste of Barcelo Imperial. This was probably my first taste of a really good quality sipping rum and it showed. I was amazed by the toffee flavours and the smooth finish and knew that at some point, there would be a bottle on my shelf.
Anyway, a little background. Ron Barcelo was founded by Julian Barcelo, a native of Mallorca. He arrived in the Dominican Republic in 1929 and the company, Barcelo & Co. was founded in 1930 in Santo Domingo. It did not take long for the Barcelo brand to become an essential reference amongst local Dominican rum brands, and it soon grew into one of the largest and most prestigious Dominican companies. During the 1980’s, Ron Barcelo became the most popular rum brand in the Dominican Republic. Exports grew and the company began distributing outside of the Caribbean and America. In 1992, the company began an international campaign and by 1994, Ron Barcelo was exported to over 10 countries, with its biggest consumer being Spain.In 1980, Miguel Barcelo created Ron Barcelo Imperial. Two decades later, the rum was awarded the distinction of being the best rum in the world, achieving 97 points out of a possible 100 in the Beverage Tasting Institute of Chicago Awards, the highest score in the awards history.
In the glass: A deep mahogany colour with flashes on gold and red. Swirling the rum in the glass releases toffee and sweet brown sugar aromas, but the rum doesn’t smell overly sweet. There is also the slightest hint of oakiness, but this is not too heavy. The rum doesn’t smell overly complex.
In the mouth: On the first sip, there is a nice light sweetness to the rum initially and a touch of oaky bitterness. The sweetness coats your mouth with toffee flavours but is not too chewy. The rum has a medium to long finish with just the right amount of warmth to make you long for more. I found the bitterness to be a little overwhelming at times and the oakiness can at times give it a bourbon quality, but there is enough viscosity and sweetness in the rum to coat your tongue and provide the enjoyment long after the bitterness has subsided. Drinking a few glasses over the course of an evening, I found that the longer the rum sits in the glass, the sweeter it gets, so I would suggest giving the rum time to sit and breathe before starting to sip.
Mix with nothing. This rum is too good for that. Add a cube of ice if you have to, but it really doesn’t need it.
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