Dictador 12 Year Solera
Rum Review: Dictador 12 Year Aged Solera Rum 92/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Revised and Republished December 2014
Dictador is produced in Colombia on the Caribbean coast at Cartagena de Indias City. Rather than being produced from molasses, the rum is produced from the virgin honey of sugar cane which has been distilled upon a stainless steel alembic, and aged using Dicatador’s unique take on the solera-style aging system. Although the rum is produced upon a stainless steel alembic, the inner workings of this still contain more than enough copper such that it functions in basically the same manner as a copper pot still.
Interestingly, the choice of the distillery to use sugar cane honey rather than molasses is based upon a peculiarity of Colombian government policy. It seems that the country has mandated that automobiles in Colombia must use a certain percentage of biofuels in conjunction with gasoline as their fuel source. As molasses is the most readily available source of biofuel, almost all molasses produced in Columbia is earmarked for biofuel production. This means that the folks at Dictador Rum have little choice but to produce and use their own sugar cane honey for rum production.
Dictator’s solera aging system is a cascading process where younger rums are aged in oak casks and then blended with older rums. The aged rum are arranged in different flights with the oldest distilled rum on the lowest levels of the Solera. The younger rums are placed on the upper levels with the very youngest rums at the top. As the rum is pulled from the lowest barrels for bottling, the barrels are not fully emptied, and those barrels (about half full) are then topped up with rum from the levels just above. This marrying of old and new softens the fiery younger rum and provides the final blended rum with a refined smoothness and flavor not found in ordinary rums.
A unique feature of the Dictador Solera System is that in addition to the younger rums being married with older rums, the barrels of similarly aged rums along one level of the solera are periodically consolidated to keep the barrels as full as possible to maintain fuller contact with the wood, and to inhibit the acceleration of the evaporation within the barrels.
The Dictador 12 Year Old Rum, is a solera aged rum which is taken from the solera at the point where the age of the rum within that solera row is at least 12 years of age. Some older rum is certainly within those barrels as well.) This rum is bottle at 40 % alcohol by volume.
In the Bottle 5/5
Dictador is a new rum which attempts to meld European marketing style and a Japanese designed bottle presentation with Colombian rum. The product exudes style and luxury and practically has your mouth-watering before you even open the bottle. In my opinion, it is just plain sexy!
I have actually heard complaints from some quarters that the bottle design and presentation is too sexy. To those persons I can only remind them that this is Rum, not soda pop. Let’s face it, a nice sexy bottle on the top of the bar is better than something which looks just ordinary.
I love the bottle; I love the sleek box it is contained in; and I love this attention to presentation detail!
In the Glass 9/10
When poured, the rum has a light copper colour with amber highlights when it is held up to the light. A quick tilt of my glass and a slow swirl reveals a multitude of thickened legs running with moderate quickness down the sides of the glass back into the rum. The initial nose is very pleasant, full of rich baking spices which include a brown sugary toffee rising from the glass as well as cinnamon, and vanilla. There is a light accent of marzipan which reminds me of toasted almonds and charred marshmallow. I also sense fresh and dry fruit and a complex oak profile that is firm but not too strong.
To hold the glass and nose it for a few minutes is a wonderful thing!
This is nicely balanced and very complex. A light oak smokiness present in the rum seems to be acting to carry the other elements in the rum forward. I liken this to a well aged brandy in its delivery and in the manner in which the oak leads out in front without devouring the other flavours.
The rum is not as sweet on the palate as it was on the nose. It is however, very soft with a slightly oily mouth-feel. There is a good amount of oak tannin and citrus zest which leads out and makes everything mildly spicy. This sensation is quickly followed by flavours of dark toffee which have turned slightly to treacle, and a moderate amount of vanilla oak. A yummy marzipan which reminds me of toasted almonds smothered in roasted marshmallows is nestled nicely under the oak and spice. A touch of coffee, a hint of ripe cherry, and more charred flavours (perhaps some toasted coconut) seem to arrive at the end with a sherry-like smokiness which also brings nuances of dry fruit and cocoa to the fore.
This is very nice!
In the Throat 13.5/15
The complexity seems to taper in the exit which provides a firm but soft landing for the rum. The dry fruit flavours and oak tannins have the last say in a finish which builds towards bitterness but never arrives there.
The Afterburn 9/10
I am even more impressed now than I was when I received my first taste of several years ago. I have been told by the producers of the rum that the average age of the 12 Year Old Rum has increased by a few years since it was first introduced which perhaps explains why its score has crept up in this most recent review. The Dictador 12 Year Solera is a complex rum full of oak nuances and dry fruit which achieves a full flavour while maintaining proper balance and complexity.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
The complex flavours of the Dictador reminded me a little of a nice rich Brandy. So I am going to recommend mixing a ‘Side Car’ cocktail replacing the Brandy in the recipe with the Dictador 12 year Solera.
The Dictador Side Car
1 oz Dictador Rum
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz Lemon juice
Pour the Rum, the Cointreau, and the Lemon juice into a metal shaker
Shake firmly to chill the mixture.
Strain the mixed ingredients into a sugar rimmed cocktail glass
Garnish with a small strip of lemon rind
You may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)