Hacienda Santa Teresa can trace its origins back to 1796 in the fertile Aragua Valley,Venezuela, where it was founded by Martin de Tovar, or The Count of Tovar as he became known after receiving the Royal Charter for the lands of Tovar from King Charles III. Sugarcane has been grown and aguardientes distilled in the valley since the middle of the 19th century but the Venezuelan War of Independence saw the lands of the Hacienda Santa Teresa ruined. Following the war, Hacienda Santa Teresa was purchased by the Vollmer Family and rum production began in 1896.
Now, more than 200 years after the founding of Hacienda Santa Teresa and over 100 years after rum production began in earnest, the Fifth Generation of the Vollmer Family still grow their own sugarcane to produce their rum and their modest mill has grown into one of Venezuela’s large modern agro-industrial complexes. The estate also grows the coffee which is used within their Araku Coffee Liqueur and the oranges that are used to produce their Rhum Orange. Ron Santa Teresa is also the only distillery in Venezuela that produces a single brand and it is also the Fourth largest producer of rums in the world. The family prides itself on the quality of their rums and in 1909, Santa Teresa was registered as the first Ron de Venezuela brand.
Ron Santa Teresa produce a wealth of expressions ranging from Claro, Anejo, Selecto, 1796 and Bicentenario along with their flavoured expressions in Araku Coffee Liqueur and Rhum Orange. Sadly I do not have the Bicentenario expression in my collection (one day perhaps), I do however have the other expressions to tell you about.
In an attempt to retain a higher quality product, Ron Santa Teresa do not exceed a 24 hour time limit between harvesting the sugarcane and processing it to obtain the molasses and a continuous fermentation process is employed rather than batch fermentation. This shortens the process of fermentation to around 15 hours. Distillation is carried out in both pot stills and column stills and Ron Santa Teresa choose to use a combination of American White Oak and French Limousin Oak to age their rum. Venezuelan Rum MUST be aged for 2 years as a minimum.
Santa Teresa Claro – 40% ABV
In keeping with the guidelines, Santa Teresa Claro is a blend of rums aged between 2 and 3 years in ex-bourbon barrels and contains rum predominantly from a column still with a small amount of pot still added.
In the glass: The rum has been filtered to remove the colour gained from its two years in the barrel but what remains is still a straw yellow. There is a light hint of vanilla carried on a buttery and creamy aroma. The rum smells fresh, green and a little vegetal. There is a slight sweetness but the alcohol puts pay to any longevity in the aromas.
In the mouth: The rum tingles on entry and then washes over your mouth with a little sweetness that seems to hit all corners before fading quite rapidly. Fresh sugarcane, vanilla and light fruit are present with a buttery edge that hints at further complexity but you just cant break down that alcohol.
As for drinks suggestions, I’ve tried it in a daiquiri and it works well. It’s not overpowered by the lime but I toned the sweetness down for my tastes.
Santa Teresa Anejo – 40% ABV
Again, the rum is predominantly from a column still with a small amount of pot still rum added. It is a blend of rums aged between 3 and 5 years in ex-bourbon barrels.
In the glass: The rum is a light gold and to be honest, out of the bottle, there are only a few shades difference between the Anejo and Claro. There is however a clear progression in the aromas. Vanilla and a little burnt sugar sweetness although not massively concentrated. That buttery edge is there along with very slight oak.
In the mouth: Initially there is a sweet lead which dry quickly to an oakiness partnered by vanilla, a peppery kick and faint chocolate. It has a very light body and a medium finish that rounds out with pepper and a little chocolate. I’d say that although pleasant, it is still in mixer territory.
As for mixed drinks, when accompanied by a little ginger beer (not too fiery), lime and very light use of bitters, it makes for a refreshing drink.
Santa Teresa Selecto – 40% ABV
The rum is predominantly from a column still with a small amount of pot still rum added. It is a blend of rums aged between 3 and 10 years (an average of 8) aged in ex-bourbon barrels.
In the glass: The rum is gold with red flashes and is clearly the next step on a journey. Stronger oak leads into the crispness of apple backed with deep, dark, sugary vanilla.
In the mouth: The rum is smooth and peppery with more oak and a slight hint of coffee and dark chocolate. It has a medium body and light viscosity and there is still some alcohol present but it doesn’t detract from the overall experience. The finish is consistent every time. It’s all chocolate and coffee. Very tasty stuff.
This rum is more than drinkable neat but the coffee lends itself to a coffee and rum martini. I’d suggest using the Araku too. The Selecto and Araku compliment each other well.
Santa Teresa 1796 – 40% ABV
This is where the real magic happens. This rum is a blend of rums aged for between 4 and 35 years. As the solera method of ageing is used in the production of this rum, the average rum age contained in the bottle is around 18 years. The rum is from a column still with a large amount of pot still rum added and ex-bourbon barrels are used within the solera employed by Ron Santa Teresa. The blend is then allowed to marry within large french oak vats that once contained cognac. 1796 has won a host of awards. Gold ‘Exceptional’ Medal at the Chicago Beverage Testing Institute in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009. Gold Medal in the San Francisco World Spirits competition in 2009. Gold Medal in the IWSC 2006. Spirit of the year Malt Advocate Award in 2006 and it was voted Rum of the Year 2005 by Dave Broom.
In the glass: This is where your money goes. The rum is dark gold with mahogany flashes. It’s creamy and oaky on the nose but not too heavy. Buttery fudge and stewed fruits are wrapped in a vanilla spiked toffee sauce and topped with pecans and a buttery crumble. There is a slight creamy chocolate and a touch of cinnamon. This rum is clearly part of a family of rum as each expression has touches of its younger sibling within. It’s a pleasure to sit and nose this rum. It truly is like a stewed fruit crumble with a cinnamon sugared topping.
In the mouth: Initially the rum is sweet on entry with some oak dryness. Stewed fruit comes through with an almost date sugar and spiced sweetness. Toffee and nuts are here with an almost buttery mouth feel yet the rum still has a medium viscosity. It’s not chewy at all and you are not overcome with sweetness. There is a real balance here and coffee rounds out a medium length finish that dry’s out with a little vanilla.
If you were to mix it, definitely try a rum old fashioned. 50ml of 1796, 5ml of sugar syrup, a dash of bitters, slice of orange and a large cube of ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
Santa Teresa Rhum Orange
The base of this Rhum Orange is the same 2 year old rum that forms the basis of the Claro. This is then macerated with sweet Valencia oranges for between 1 and 4 months.
In the glass: The rhum is gold with orange flashes and there is a little alcohol burn there alongside the intense orange.
In the mouth: The rum is thick and viscous with a really sweet entry. This dry’s out quickly. It’s just so easy to drink. It wont be for everyone, but I love it.
Try it in an orange daiquiri but I omit the sugar syrup due to sweetness. Be careful with the amount of lime used and I’ve found that a touch of sparkling water really helps to make the drink unbelievably refreshing.
Santa Teresa Araku Coffee Liqueur
Again this uses the same 2 year old rum base as the Claro and Rhum Orange but this time the rum is infused with fresh ‘Caracas Blue’ 100% Arabica Coffee.
In the glass: The rum is black with elements of gold around the edges. There are deep dark coffee and chocolate aromas.
In the mouth: The liquid is thick and viscous with a dominant sweetness. Again this dry’s out with instant dark chocolate and coffee. It’s like eating chocolate coated coffee beans such is the intensity. You’ll never go back to Kahlua!
I love this in a twist on a very boozy White Russian. I use 25ml Araku, 50ml Selecto, 25ml Mozart Dark Chocolate Liqueur and then top it up with milk. Lots of ice. Occasionally a drop of Black Walnut Bitters……..and relax.
Hopefully this little run through of the range will encourage you to seek out Santa Teresa Rums as each expression has something to offer. They are truly a family of rums from a family owned company and at least one expression should be a staple in your collection. My thanks to Mangrove for filling in the gaps in my Santa Teresa collection and for allowing me to experience some excellent Venezuelan rums. Go and seek them out, you will not be disappointed.
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