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Dictador 20 Year Solera Rum

Rum Review: Dictador 20 Year Old Solera Rum (91.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Revised December 5 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 20 Year Old Rum, is a solera aged rum which is taken from the solera at the point where the average age of the rum within that solera row is at least 20 years of age.  (Some older rum is certainly within those barrels as well.) This rum is bottle at 40 % alcohol by volume.

Dictador 20 SAM_1387In The Bottle  (5/5)

Dictador is a rum which attempts to meld European marketing style, and a Japanese designed bottle presentation, with authentic Colombian rum. The product exudes style and luxury and practically has your mouth-watering before you even open the bottle. In my opinion, thr look they have achieved is just plain sexy!

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)

A dark reddish-brown coppery rum greets the eyes as the Dictador 20  is poured into the glass.  When I tilt my glass to allow the rum to coat the sides, I observe moderately thick legs which traverse their way at a steady pace down the side of my glass.

The aroma from the glass is heavily tainted with oak and baking spice. I smell dark brown sugars and toffee which grow stronger and deeper as the glass decants. A hint of maple sits in the breezes, and accents of cinnamon, nutmeg as well as a firm dash of vanilla rise up to complement the strong oak aroma. There is a light smokey element as well which seems to imply sherry like scents of dried currants and raisins.

I find the overall aroma to be marvelous, and I always spend a good amount of time nosing the glass trying to decipher all the nuances whenever I pour a fresh glass.

In the Mouth  (55/60)

The initial entry into the mouth is smooth and suave. All the scents which were easily discernible in the glass were much harder to distinguish as flavours in the mouth. In fact, most of the flavours seem to have blended and melted together in a nice harmonious balance which makes identification perilous, but is also a rare treat to the palate.

I would suggest that oak and caramel dominate the rum, but in spite of the age of the rum, (which is apparent on the nose), the oak flavours do not attack you with sharp tannins and citrus zest. Instead, the oak flavours have melted into the caramel-like flavours and appear to the palate as a yummy oak and caramel syrup that carries hints of other the flavours within it. If one noses the rum as one sips, it is easier to distinguish dry fruits (raisins and dates), some vanilla, a few hints of maple, and luscious baking spices which are all part of the flavour profile.

I consider the Dictador 20 Year Old Solera Rum as an excellent example of what can be achieved through solera aging techniques combined with masterful blending.

In the Throat (13.5/15)

Although I would describe this rum as medium bodied, it has a long smooth finish which is more consistent with a heavier rum. The wonderful oak and caramel syrup I described earlier leaves a strong impression on the palate and the throat. Long afterwards I swear I can taste coffee, chocolate and cola lingering.

The Afterburn (9/10)

The Dictador 20 year Old Solera Blend is extremely well crafted and balanced. I enjoyed how the differing flavours melted together with the caramel and oak. This is a suave, yet rich rum experience!

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.


Suggested Recipe

I will begin by stating for the record that a wonderful rum like the Dictador 20 Year Old may easily be drank neat at room temperature and this would be my first recommendation for anyone who is trying the rum for the first time. Adding a little ice adds a light creaminess to the experience, and is also very enjoyable.

Having said that, I will share one recipe with you. It came about as I was sampling the rum for this review and I began to wonder what it would taste like mixed with Drambuie similar to a “Rusty Nail” which is a Scotch whisky cocktail. I did a little experimenting and came up with a recipe that is similar to the “Deansgate Cocktail“. (A Deansgate is made with Rum, Drambuie, and Roses Lime Juice.) My recipe is made with Dictador 20 year Old Rum, Drambuie and a lime garnish. I call it The Drumbeat.

The Drumbeat

1 1/2 oz Dictador Rum
1/2 oz Drambuie
Crushed Ice
Lime slice quartered

Fill a bar-glass half full of crushed ice
Add a quartered Lime Slice
Add the Dictador Rum and Drambuie
Stir and Enjoy!


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)


6 Responses to “Dictador 20 Year Solera Rum”

  1. James said

    Great reviews! I just had some Ron Millonario Solera 15 last week, can’t find in many places in Calgary (one place downtown). But my favourite store in the South (J. Webb) and they have the Dictador 20. How different would it be to the Ron Millonario Solera 15? Or should I just buck up and by them both!

  2. rus said

    thanx ryan,…at the 2011 rumfest ,dictador did not show their product,,,a shame…….as for cardhu we found it in dutyfree and still as good as its cousins highland park.macallan.and famous grouse….had the pleasure of finally meeting chip,very personable,a fountain of knowledge ,nice guy…. cheers russ

  3. Ryan said

    I carry both of these rums in my store in Sherwood Park. I just wanted to say that Cardhu has been unavailable in Alberta for quite some time, no agency carries it.

  4. rus said

    very comprehensive review,thank you.this rum was the favorite of many of us at the miami fest and bemoan the fact it has been difficult to obtain except when we have had it shipped in caselot out of europe.we have tried to aquire it in canada but have been unsuccessful….on another topic,do you know if the cardhu product has resurfaced anywhere for us to obtain. thanx russ

    • I agree that this was one of the favourites at Miami!

      As for the Cardhu, I do not believe I have seen it for quite a while now. I do not know if it has been discintinued in Canada or just in short supply.

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