Barceló are on of the big three named rum producers of the Dominican Republic. I say named because Oliver & Oliver another big Dominican rum player produce a variety of rums under various different guises.
In 1929 Spaniard Julián Barceló arrived in Santo Domingo and founded Barceló & Co. In 1974, Don Julián Barceló handed over the reins to his nephew Miguel Barceló and in 1980 Ron Barceló Imperial was born.
This is one of the more premium rums in the Barceló portfolio. Only the Imperial Onyx and 30 year Anniversary Imperial Blend are more expensive.
In the UK you will fork out around £30 for a 70cl, which has an ABV of just 38%. In Spain were the brand is very popular a bottle will cost little more than £15. Like its Dominican brother Brugal it is very prominent in Spanish Airport Duty Frees.
In order to keep the focus on this rum and not make this review too lengthy I will direct you to a very good website. This website – Dominican Rum Guide should provide you with any further information you require on rums from the Dominican Republic.
I will give some more information on the rum in this bottle though. The rum is a blend of rums aged upto 10 years. The rums are column distilled and the rum is blended and aged in Bourbon Barrels.
As you can see from the photographs the presentation is very “Premium”. Nice wide, flat stubby bottle with a huge ornate plastic emblem topped cork stopper. Quite what all the writing is about on the front – I have no idea as it is in Spanish. You also get a nice cut out box – which might not protect your rum but it looks nice. The box or bottle do not give you any information regarding the age of the rums or how its been distilled etc. I’ve had to dig that up on the net.
For anyone familiar with rums from the Dominican Republic it will come as no surprise that this rum does show some additives when we run the Hydrometer test.
So with an ABV of just 38% next to no disclosure on what is in the bottle and some additives – Barceló are not off to the best of starts with this reviewer.
In the glass the rum looks slightly less vibrant than in the bottle. It is a reddish/golden brown but once poured in the glass it does look a little dull.
The nose is light and gentle. Vanilla, milk chocolate and refreshingly some nice oaked notes. A little twist of lemon zest. It’s quite nicely balanced but just a little bit too nice.
Which is where our good friend “sugar” seems to have made an appearance. Combined with the ABV the sugar makes this rum just a bit too weak and puny. The sugar has rounded off any rough edges but for me has also diminished the quality of the rum. I feel it could have been warmer and more fruity without the sugar.
Tasting the rum is initially quite a spicy experience. The interaction with the Bourbon oak gives the rum a very zesty tang. It’s quite spicy – especially in smaller sips. A little ginger and maybe a hint of tabasco.
After a couple of sips I start taking larger sips. Allowing the rum to coat more of the palate. As a result I’m getting a lot more of the chocolate notes and some toffee.
Unsurprisingly the rum is now pretty smooth but its not overly sweet. Having said that I still think an experienced rum taster will notice the sugar (or additives). There is still some good nicely aged oak notes in the drink though -especially in the finish which is still a little on the spicy side.
In the UK where this rums costs around £30 a bottle I wouldn’t really be looking for a mixer. However when in Spain (and Gibraltar especially) I’ve picked this rum up for little over £10. So I have mixed it with cola and found it too work pretty well. The spicy elements of the rum stand up quite nicely and it is very smooth. So a rum and cola with Barceló Imperial is pretty decent.
Back in Blighty though I wouldn’t splash another £30 on this rum. If they dropped the additives and bottled it at 40% though they might well have a better product. Which I would consider though I doubt it would ever be stellar.
It’s a perfectly serviceable easy sipping drink. There’s nothing particularly unpleasant about it. At the same time it is very safe and sadly displays too many traits that are linked to “Premium” rum. Premium rum should be an entirely different beast.