I’ve recently been interested more in rums made in the “Spanish” tradition (as opposed to those from islands formerly/currently under French or British rule). While Bacardi is the maybe the most well-known of this type, I wanted to get an idea of what a higher-end Puerto Rican rum might taste like. Some internet sleuthing led me to Ron del Barrilito, which is a family-run brand out of Puerto Rico operating at a much smaller scale than Bacardi or Don Q – their distillery is run by just 9 employees.
The Ron del Barrilito main product range consists of their 3 Star and 2 Star rums. They also offer 4 Star and 5 Star rums only at Hacienda Santa Ana, the tour facility at their distillery. The 4 Star appears to be a limited release you fill yourself at the facility, which is the kind of thing I’m a complete sucker for and will definitely do when I make it down to Puerto Rico some day. In addition, it looks like their tour offerings are pretty stacked.
My current reality has me stuck in Chicago, so Binny’s seemed like the next best thing. Since I was trying for the higher-end, I opted for the 3 Star, which is advertised as a good sipping rum and was listed in stock on the Binny’s website. It comes in a cardboard sleeve (similar to some single malt scotches), and I particularly like the bottle labeling. The one thing that surprised me was that it had a plastic screw top, which I didn’t expect at $40 for this bottle, though from what I understand Ron del Barrilito is significantly cheaper in Puerto Rico.
Okay, enough background. Let’s see how this rum actually tastes.
In the glass, I catch hints of honey, oak, vanilla, and a little caramel in the nose. There is a lot going on with this rum, and it’s relatively complex. There is just a hint of astringency, but it’s not distracting.
The mouthfeel is medium-bodied, and the honey, oak, and vanilla flavors follow through. There is a long finish, spicy with hints of tobacco. It’s very mellow and easy-drinking, and easily the best rum I’ve had from Puerto Rico so far. I ended up having another glass to sip after my initial taste test, and continued to be impressed. While I was enjoying my drink, I noticed a small typo on the back label of the bottle, “enjoy ir straight,” which (to me) is a nice reminder that this company isn’t a giant multi-national, but just a small group of people making very fine rum.
Overall, the 3 Star is great on its own (and much better than you’d find in a whiskey at this price) and would shine in a spirit-forward cocktail like a rum old fashioned. This is one I’m going to keep in stock on my shelf for a while, and I look forward to trying the rest of the Ron del Barrilito range.