Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Review 46 - Diplomatico Ambassador

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
Not bad, but thankfully I didn't pay for an entire bottle of it.

Back to Venezuela we go. It has been a long, long time since I visited the DiploResEx, so I think it is time to return and try something supposedly even better.

The top of the Diplomatico line of rums. The Diplomatico Ambassador.

It is made in a copper pot still (source at the bottom) and then grown to 14 years of age old in total. The first 12 years are spent in oak casks, before enduring a 2 year finish in PX sherry casks.
It is bottled at 47% ABV (cask strength apparently), which I applaud. More brands needs to do like this, and experiment outside the standard 40% strength.

The same source which made the 100% pot still claim, also states that nothing has been added to the rum after destillation: ”… no sweeteners, no caramel or other additives…”.

Strangely enough leading sugar-addition-analyst Johnny Drejer disagrees – or at least his Anton Paar densitymeter does.

The difference between label ABV and measured ABV indicates an artificial sugar content of 26 g/l which is way more than you would get from wood extracts and the likes.

So who to trust? The premium brand building company or a private enthusiast and transparency hunter with an Anton Paar densitymeter? Marketing or science? Perhaps I shouldn’t jump to conclusions, but something doesn’t add up. I know where my money lies…

Anyway. Smoke and mirrors aside. Let us try a few sips of this blurry 47% mystery.

I am reviewing a sample which I got from a fellow rummie, so unfortunately I do not have the box or the bottle. And that is a real shame according to always helpful Google Images.

Earlier issues came in a beautiful wooden box with two doors, which revealed the pompous decanter style bottle bedded on a cushion of satin or silk. Talk about extravagant!

Today the same type of bottle comes in a more modest wooden box with a leathery looking holster sliding over it. Inside the satin pillow has gone and has been replaced with an even more modest looking wooden shelf.

It is however still a beautiful package all together.

The bottle has a very thick glass bottom, which I anticipate adds a lot of weight to the experience. 

There is no real label. Just very few information primarily revolving around the name and origin.
I have had no luck finding pictures of the back of the bottle, so I don’t know if more information is available there.

The bottle is closed by a cork with a huge plastic stopper.

The liquid displays a dark amber colour, and it creates a thick oily ring, fat legs and slooooow droplets.

At the door you are met by a thick, juicy syrup and brown sugar. Regrettably it comes off as a bit artificial.

Behind the sweetness, more sweetness arrives from liquorice with a lot of juicy rum soaked raisins on the side.

On the more subtle side, I noted coffee and roasted nuts

Last to join in are a touch of stale cola and mild oak, but nothing too interfering.

The alcohol is light and a little sharp on the nose, which felt a little industrial and not fitting of a rum this age and premium appearance.

As I took my time to nose it, it suddenly went flat on me. Perhaps I sucked all scents out of it – I don’t know, but it was gone.

Not as thick as I feared, but still a lot of sugar.

It is dominated very much but brown sugar and raisins from the get-go, but thankfully there is also room for other flavours.

For instance some very salty liquorice coming in with the second wave, along with a burst of soft oaks and spices. Vanilla and cinnamon comes to mind.

Immediately after that I was surprised by old leather and cigar smoke.

The ABV isn’t very obvious at first, but then you feel it.

It lies underneath it all and grinds away, but heavily dulled by the massive sugary mouthfeel, so you don’t notice it as much.

But it is there and it is sharp. It doesn’t integrate nearly as well as other above 45% rums I have had. 

Too bad. I really saw potential here.

There is a quite long finish in store for you.

It is still very sweet, but it also has a lot of warmth to give.

There is an interesting, declining oakyness and spicyness, which is there from start to finish (pun intended).

It does clean it self up quite nicely and doesn’t stay sticky in your mouth. Kudos to that.

Rating and final thoughts
When I think about it, the Diplomatico Ambassador was quite a treat. Not that complex on the nose and with the pungency somewhat hidden, smooth palate as long as you don’t go peaking around corners and a nice, smooth, long, warm finish.

Yes, it has a lot of sugar. Yes, it has sharpness on the nose. Yes, it bites a little in the throat. No, it is not very well balanced. But I had a fun time with it, and it is not a bad sipper at all.

I do however get a sense, that the Ambassador is a premium example of a frantic attempt to mask a mediocre rum as a premium product by adding sugar and then trying to balance out the glue-like stickyness with a higher ABV.

The sense of alcohol is sharp, feels undeveloped and comes off as a clear lack of craftsmanship – as opposed to e.g the Velier Diamond 1996 which had much higher proof, but nowhere near the pungency or teeth of the Ambassador. The sweetness is thick and heavy, and it very clearly acts as a cover up to the sharpness. Doesn’t manage to do the job.

Even though it doesn’t affect my score, I have to mention the price. €200 … Let that sink in. The longer you think about it the more ridiculous it gets.

I am not even going to bother myself listing all the rums I would rather buy. But here is some inspiration just for sport: Any available Velier bottle, any available top tier Rum Nation bottle, any available top tier or limited edition Zacapa (for the sweet-tooths out there), the Appleton 21, the Abuelo Centuria, or even the Cadenheads 1975 Demerara (for crying out loud!).

Just to repeat: This is an okay enjoyable sipper. I’m just thankful I didn’t pay for a full bottle of it.

So even though I have delt some serious blows to the Ambassador, it still deserves a …

Rating: 67/100

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