Ron Del Barrilito 3-Star Rum
By Eric Schmalz - September 11, 2019
In spirits, like in anything, there are those brands that many would call "cult". Lauded by those who know them, and completely disregarded by those who don’t. It is the job of those loyal drinkers to bridge the gap, become the gateway to this mysterious entity. Ron Del Barrlilito is one such brand and just as the insight into this great producer was given to me, so it is that I now bequeath it to you.
Operating out of the historic Hacienda Santa Ana, this family run business is the oldest rum producer on the island of Puerto Rico. The Fernández family has owned Hacienda Santa Ana in Bayamón since 1797. It started off as a sugar cane plantation and, like many sugar producers back then, they made rum from the excess molasses they would get from refining the sugar, purely for personal consumption.
However, in 1880 Pedro Fernández began bottling and selling his rum to the general public, assumed to be from the demand from those he had let try his delectable distillate. The name Ron Del Barrilito comes from the phrase Rum from the little barrel, which is what his guests at the Hacienda would ask for when he offered them a drink, so he adopted the name for his brand.
Not much has changed since then. They still use the same blending recipes, age exclusively in used sherry casks, hand label every bottle, and deliver the same attention to detail that a small, family run company can afford to do.
They currently make three regular expressions, 2-Star, 3-Star, and Santa Ana Cask Strength, along with one premium product, 5-Star. I chose to highlight the 3-Star here, as it an exemplar of the quality rum that they produce.
Ron Del Barrilito 3-Star Rum (image via Ray's Wine and Spirits)
This is a blend of six to ten year old rum, aged exlusively in used sherry barrels, and bottled at 43% ABV.
The nose leads with soft, rich leather. Molasses, and a little hint of funk follow. The sweetness is there but it is more subtle, not overtly making itself known. Brown sugar and baking spices make up the back bone of the nose, cardamom and nutmeg primarily. There are hints of vanilla and mocha coffee. Some tobacco and nutty sherried notes, almonds and walnuts, come in after resting.
The palate is delicate, light, and sweet initially. There is a bright citrus punch, orange and lemon primarily. Roasted coffee beans, tobacco, and dry leather are robust. Rich brown sugar and sherry sweetness are there as well milk chocolates, ginger spice, and a hint of cinnamon. Really a lot of sherry influence has been left behind in the spirit, which I find provides a balance to what would otherwise be a dry style.
The finish is fairly short, but full and round. There is dried tobacco, leather, and a hint of rubber funk. A dry nuttiness is there as well, I would assume primarily from the sherry barrel. A cherry cola quality is left after everything else dissapates.
I thoroughly enjoy this as a sipping rum. It’s not overly complex, but it is rich in the flavors that are present. The palate is the star here, moving from sweet to dry and back, all in a single sip. Of all the rums I have sampled thus far this is the only one that I have found to have this back and forth quality that brings a satisfying feeling to the taste.
Overall: 8/10 Excellent
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