This week we’re filling our tasting glasses with a tot of super-premium aged rum – Diplomático Selección de Familia, to be precise, hailing all the way from Venezuela. Here, Diplomático’s maestro ronero Nelson Fernandez and UK brand ambassador Jon Lister talk us through the liquid make-up behind the brand new bottling…

Having clocked our burgeoning enthusiasm for super-premium rums, the lovely folks at Diplomático created Selección de Familia to ‘present a new, sophisticated tasting experience to rum connoisseurs’. Before we get into the nitty gritty of the new release, let’s take a brief peek behind the scenes at the brand’s Venezualan home.

Every bottling in the Diplomático range is produced at a family-owned field-to-bottle distillery located at the foot of the Andes Mountains. “We use molasses to produce light rums, and sugar cane honey for semi-complex and complex rums,” Fernandez explains. “We ferment them for different times – the molasses for 24 hours, and the honey for 48 hours. The yeast in our distillery [is added] to create the aromatic profile that is specific for Diplomático.”

Diplomático’s idiosyncratic batch kettle still

From there, the rum wash heads to one of three unique stills, where it’s transformed into three strikingly different distillates. “We have the Barbet, the French column still,” Jon Lister, Diplomático’s UK brand ambassador, explains. “We have a batch kettle, originally from Crown Royal from Canada – that gives us lovely rich flavours and spicy, creamy notes – and we have our Scottish [double retort] pot still, using that to give body and heart and soul to Diplomático.”

Diplomático Selección de Familia is made up of 90% pot still, 5% Barbet, and 5% batch kettle rums, which have been aged for up to 12 years in American white oak, ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. Interestingly, the ex-sherry casks are the same barrels that were previously used to finish Diplomático Ambassador and Diplomático Single Vintage. However, unlike those bottlings, the rum destined for Selección de Familia is treated to a full maturation in those barrels. It’s bottled with 20g of sugar added. 

“As part of our barrel programme, we have a select amount of barrels that we finish the Ambassador with – two years in Pedro Ximénez casks – and a select few sherry barrels that we finish the Single Vintage range in; Oloroso casks,” says Lister. “We’re not just using [those casks] once and getting rid of them, we’re utilising those lovely flavour profiles. So you not only get the flavours from the stills, the different fermentation styles, the sugar cane honey, the molasses – you’re getting a myriad of flavour profiles from the cask as well.” 

Nelson Fernandez with all his casks

Lovely stuff, as you’ll soon find out. And there’s plenty of chance to taste it, too – the new super-premium bottling will join Diplomático’s core ‘Tradition’ range, which features Mantuano, a dark rum blend containing liquids aged up to eight years; Reserva Exclusiva, a blend of rums aged up to 12 years; and Planas, a white rum aged up to six years.

“When we created this rum, the idea was to show the personality of our distillers,” says Fernandez. “When you create a rum, you put your personality into it, and in this case we put the personality of the family at the distillery… We put a lot of our passion and soul into making rum. And we put a lot of passion and soul into Diplomático Selección de Familia. It’s from our hearts.”

Tasting Diplomático Selección de Familia

Nose: Honeyed forest fruits, gooey toffee, raisin and a touch of date. Very soft vanilla with the merest hint of oily orange peel.

Palate: First creamy, juicy plum set against a backdrop of coconut. Cooked oak spice and brandy ripple across the palate, chased down by rounded pepper and bold toffee sweetness.

Finish: Smooth, with thick notes of demerara sugar. Well-rounded, long finish with a hint of pipe tobacco on the tail.

Diplomatico Seleccion de Familia makes a mean Old Fashioned

The Familia Old Fashioned

While Selección de Familia is a dream neat, it’s also exceptional in an Old Fashioned. We know, because we’ve tried it. Here’s the recipe:

50ml Selección de Familia
5ml banana oleo*
5ml Oloroso sherry
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Method: Build ingredients in a mixing glass and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over ice and garnish with an orange peel.

*Place two banana peels in a jar with four tablespoons of sugar. Seal the lid and shake until the peels are coated. Shake every hour afterwards until the sugar has dissolved. Strain with a fine mesh strainer.

The Diplomático range is available from Master of Malt.