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La Hechicera Solera 21

Review: La Hechicera Solera 21  (87/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted April 13, 2018

In the historic port of Barranquilla (Colombia), situated between the Magdalena River and the Caribbean Sea, three generations of the Riascos Family have been producing rums for over two decades. They apparently travel round the Caribbean sourcing their cane spirit which is matured using a solera system in used bourbon barrels.  The rum they create, La Hechicera is distributed in Western Canada by the Phillips Distilling Co.. The brand promotes itself as a naturally ‘unpolished’ rum. What they mean by ‘unpolished’ is that the company has not added any additives or sugar to the finished spirit to create a smoother flavour profile.

According to the Company website, La Hechicera Solera 21 is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume and matured using ex-bourbon barrels in a Solera style to create a blend of rums between 12 years and 21 years old.

In the Bottle 4.5/5

The solera spirit is housed in a medium-sized stubby bottle shown to the left with the brand name is embossed along the shoulder of the bottle. I like the stubby bottle with its low center of gravity as this suits my idea of a a rum bottle ready for the Captain’s table on the rolling ocean. The corked topper and blue seal on the front of the bottle serve to elevate the presentation as do the professional label with the easy to read letters and fonts.

The words ‘Solera 21 Reserva Familiar’ featured prominently on the label which some will take as an age statement. However,  I should point out that additional information on the label indicates that the rum in the bottle is a blend of spirits which have been aged from 12 to 21 years.

In the Glass 8.5/10

When I poured a small dram into my glencairn glass the rum shows me a copper hue which has turned the corner towards bronze. When I tilt my glass and give it a slow twirl I see medium-sized droplets which form legs which trickle back to the rum down below.

The nose is very interesting as a distinct fruitiness rises into the air alongside fine oak spies. I sense impressions of raisins and black raspberries as well as a firm orange peel zest. As the spirit rests, I begin to notice a lightly sweet caramel winding within the breezes providing a light sweetness. I also notice coffee-like aromas, bittersweet chocolate and firm baking spices (vanilla and cinnamon in particular). Banana and apricot jam add to the fruitiness. Wisps of wood smoke and leather drift into the air and scattered tea leaves evolve in the air above the glass as well.

The rum shows good complexity, and I am urged by the breezes above the glass to begin sipping.

In the Mouth 52/60

The rum carries a firm bite of oak spice and citrus zest forward. There are lightly bitter oak tannins which bring me impressions of coffee beans and bittersweet chocolate. There is also a firm fruity quality reminiscent of black berries and raisins. Adding to the menagerie of impressions are tastes of dark tobacco and licorice stained molasses. Roasted walnuts seem to underpin the main flavours.

When I add a touch of ice to the rum, I find the spirit’s light bitterness gains more expression. If you like cocoa and coffee beans then adding the ice is a treat. If you like a touch more sweetness you will prefer the spirit neat. I used a dash of cola to sweeten the dram, but in retrospect this seemed to be a wrong path to take. Rather than the sweetness of cola, I preferred a Rum Old Fashioned made with dash of orange Curacao and a strip of orange peel.

In the Throat 13/15

The finish is somewhat dry and smoky bringing mildly bitter tea and cocoa flavours and a lingering impression of dry fruit (raisins and dried plums) through the exit. Lingering upon the palate afterwards are impressions of zesty citrus peel and spicy oak which pucker the mouth sufficiently that a second sip is easily induced.

The Afterburn 9/10

La Hechicera Solera 21 is a rum which will perhaps lack the sweetness which some prefer when they sip South American rums. However, I believe that if you give the spirit a few more chances, you will find that you will like it just a little more each time you return. The typically sweet rum flavours of caramel and butterscotch are not absent; they are just set further back in the flavour profile. The result is a somewhat smoky rum with spicy flavours of oak complimented by dry fruit. I highly recommend sipping the spirit neat or serving in short cocktails such as the Rum Old Fashioned.

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

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Suggested Recipe:

Although I highly recommend Rum Old Fashioned, I also had great success when I served this delightful indulgence to my family and guests during our recent Easter celebration.

Whoa Nellie SAM_2399The mixed drink can be attributed to Lally Brennan and Ti Adelaide Martin (In the Land of Cocktails) who first came up with the cocktail with the assistance of Ted Haigh (Dr. Cocktail). The name is an homage to Lally’s and Ti Adelaide’s grandmother, Nellie Valentine.

Whoa Nellie!

1 1/2 oz Rye Whisky (Pendleton)
1/2 oz La Hechicera Solera 21
1/2 oz Bols Triple Sec
1/3 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
a few dashes of Bitters (Fees Cocktail Bitters)
1/3 oz Sugar Syrup
Ice
Grapefruit Twist

Add the ingredients into a metal shaker with plenty of ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with a twist of Grapefruit

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

And if  you are interested in more recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for my mixed drink recipes!

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My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score 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)

 

 

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