Spirit Of The Week: Diplomático Ambassador Rum

This Pedro Ximenez sherry cask-finished rum from Venezuela’s finest label should have a place on your bar cart.

(Diplomático Rum)

One of the best affordable rums in all the world can be found in the frosted dark emerald glass of Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva. The Venezuelan crafted Reserva Exclusiva hits all the notes of a perfect Spanish-style rum like a tenured opera singer—flawless in its ripe banana sweetness; ringing with rich notes of cognac, candied orange peel, custard, vanilla; and plenty of oak rounding things out. And for under $40, Diplomático’s flagship expression should have a home in the bar cart of every discerning spirit enthusiast, full stop.  

However it is Diplomático’s rarest and most exclusive offering, Ambassador, that we’re highlighting today. Like Reserva Exclusiva, Ambassador is copper-pot distilled and casked in American white oak ex-bourbon barrels for 12 years. What separates the latter, however, is an additional two years of maturation in voluptuously sweet Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. 

Along with their Single Vintage expression—which swaps Ambassador’s second finish in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks with a single year in Oloroso sherry casks but also adds the specific year of sugar cane harvest written on the label—the two bottles make up Diplomático’s halo “Prestige Range.”

“It’s like asking a father which is his favorite child. In the end, they are all equally special,” Nelson Hernandez laughs when asked which of his creations contain the finest juice. “However, Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva has been, and is, the flagship of this house thanks to the undeniable leadership of Diplomático in the super-premium category. Before Diplomático, the rum category didn’t have the premiumization trend and consumers had a low perception of the quality of the rums.”

Diplomático’s Rum Master argues it was Reserva Exclusiva that proved to discriminating consumers worldwide that rum’s quality can match, or even surpass, whisky’s. Although other distilleries would lay claim to that accomplishment, Diplomático certainly had its place in rum’s surge of respectability. 

“Rum has long been associated with standard mixed drinks, so our focus for many years has been on helping people discover premium sipping rums,” Hernandez, who is also the label’s Master Blender, continues. “The category is still in the early stages of premiumization but we are witnessing a growing interest in quality, authenticity and new tasting experiences. We believe this trend will only grow as consumers continue to discover rum’s unique qualities and diverse sipping experience.” 

This is where Diplomático’s halo Prestige Range comes into play, to continue pushing the work that Reserva Exclusiva trailblazed for the proudly Venezuelan label. Which is critical for the struggling South American nation, one that has suffered prolonged economic difficulties.

“Venezuela has endured a difficult situation for some years now,” Hernandez admits, but notes how the DUSA distillery where Diplomático is produced is essential for the livelihood of its rural home. “It is undoubtedly a great challenge for us, but we are achieving it year after year.”

When asked about his twin Prestige Range offerings, Ambassador and Single Vintage, the conversation turns decidedly more jubilant. “Single Vintage is a selection of reserves with a very particular aromatic profile and a well-rounded, pronounced mellow finish with hints of red fruits,” Hernandez responds.

“On another note, crafted from the finest rum reserves, Diplomático Ambassador is an exquisite rum finished in sherry casks providing an ultimate sensory experience for the most discerning drinkers.”

Of course a major aspect of any brown spirit but especially rum—where the often torrid and humid climate of these tropical distilleries can act like a microwave—is maturation. So Diplomático strictly monitors every last barrel in their rickhouses, overseeing the aging evolution of the juice maturing within each. An annual control sampling allows the team to track the maturation process and ensure the tasting profiles match those of their signature rums. 

“In the case of Ambassador, we know perfectly well where our best reserves are and which ones have the special Ambassador profile,” Hernandez reassures us. 

“Without a doubt, this is an incredibly spectacular rum. Finished in sherry casks, so the sweet, fortified wine penetrates deep into the oak, giving a rich dark fruit complexity,” he elaborates.

“Bottled at 47% ABV for a well-balanced and complex profile that develops into a long, warm and rolling finish. A bright, dark amber, Ambassador has notes of port wine, cigar, dried fruits and chocolate. In mouth raisin, nutmeg, and toasted oak notes leading into a long pleasing aftertaste.” $200

Follow Deputy Editor Nicolas Stecher on Instagram at @nickstecher and @boozeoftheday.