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Ron del Barrilito 3 Star rum is produced in Bayamón Puerto Rico by the Fernández family, which has been producing rum in the area since 1804, making it the oldest rum manufacturer in Puerto Rico. The rum is first blended and then aged for a minimum of 6 years.
A single barrel of Ron del Barrilito rum was set aside in 1942 called the 'Freedom Barrel.' When Puerto Rico gains its independence the Freedom Barrel will be opened in the Bayamón town square for all to share.
This is a cult classic rum, so to speak, for those who have spent time in Puerto Rico. From what I hear it is quite difficult to locate for much of the US (and maybe the world?) but for some reason is abundantly available in most spirits stores in the Atlanta Metro area where I live. I am a big Atlanta United fan and hang out with a group of Puerto Ricans on game days. They recommended this rum to me. It took me a while to get around to it but I finally went out and bought a bottle a short while back.
The question I set out to answer is, Puerto Rican pride and cult vacation rum legend aside, is this actually a good rum compared to the wide world of rums across the spectrum of styles?
First, a bit about the rum. Ron del Barrilito is an old single family distillery native to Puerto Rico. It is not a “Cuban Exile Rum”, but rather a traditional Puerto Rican distillery. This particular rum is a blend of column still rums tropically aged between 6 and 10 years in American White Oak Sherry Barrels. It is not a Solera, but rather a blend of select individually aged rums. **Update** Although the rumproject lists this rum as containing 7gpL of added sugar, that is in fact not the case as the link in the reply comments below shows. Rather, like Barbancourt, a tiny amount (less than 2.5% of the total distillate) is set aside prior to aging in 25 wooden barrels and is mixed with locally sourced stone fruits and spices, but not sugar, grown on the island. This tiny portion of distillate is then mixed back to the blend after aging. No coloring is added. The color is achieved solely using longer aged (and naturally darker) rum to achieve consistency. This entire process is apparently explained and shown to visitors in open tours of the distillery.
On the nose I get Brown Sugar, deep rich Caramel, Toffee, Williams Pear, Molasses, Tawny Porto, and Raisins. I must say the nose is richer than I anticipated and the richness of the caramel is almost Foursquare level, though accompanied by different fruit notes. It is a very rich and synchronous aroma that fills the nostrils.
Taking a sip the palate mostly mirrors the nose but then adds a few more notes. On the palate I get a strong wash of Williams Pear and a deep rich Brown Sugar note. This is followed by Brown Figs, Caramel, Toffee, Tawny Porto, and hint of Lime peel. The palate comes across as extremely fruity but not funky - more like rich, perfectly aged dried fruit with a burst of fresh pear and brown sugar. It’s is quite harmonic and delightful.
The finish is medium long and is comprised of mainly Caramel and Toffee with a surprise hint of Raspberry. Nothing overly complex but still quite enjoyable from a “comfort standpoint”.
I must say, this is far, far better than I anticipated. I am rather surprised with how much I enjoy this rum. The total experience is very, very similar to the Cuban Havana Club Añejo Reserva but dare I say it is richer and better composed than that rum. This is a very enjoyable sip that continues to grow on you as you sip it. The harmonic balance between dried fruit, fresh fruit, and desert notes is very well done. I can enjoy all types of rum (pot and column; molasses, cane juice, and cane syrup; and aged and unaged) and for a Spanish style rum this ranks very highly for me. It is deep, rich and very comforting. It’s one of the very best Spanish style rums I have had maybe behind only Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros and Grander Single Barrel 8 Year. This is definitely worth the hype for those looking for the perfect aged Spanish style rum. Given that it is widely available to me I am going to be making this my go-to Spanish style aged rum. Well done Puerto Rico, well done indeed.
Short Description: a richer and simultaneously more balanced version of Cuban Havana Club Añejo Reserva. The perfect Spanish style dual purpose sipper and mixer
Nose: Brown Sugar, deep rich Caramel, Toffee, Williams Pear, Molasses, Porto, Raisins
Palate: strong Williams Pear, strong Brown Sugar, Brown Fig, Caramel, Toffee, Tawny Porto, hint of Lime Peel
Finish: medium length, Caramel, Toffee, faint Raspberry
Country of Origin: Puerto Rico
Distillery: Hacienda Santa Ana en Bayamon
"Barrilito tres estrellas" is a classic; still produced the same way as in the 19th century. Hard to find outside of PR -- in PR, it's the cheapest sipping rum -- at $20-25 per bottle, it's better than most rums twice that much. Perfect with a couple of rocks, or if you have to mix it, with a bit of dry cranberry and soda. Do not use it for cuba libres -- it would be a waste!
This is a pretty good rum. Molasses, smoke, pepper, oak, almond, sherry, and even a light touch of orange.
It's a good rum, though I think it's a little hot at 43%abv (I think only the 8 and above rated rums do really well at that alcohol content). Still, a very decent rum for the money, and one I would recommend for the cost.
Every time I've gone to pick up a bottle of this (and I've gone through plenty), I'm absolutely floored by the fact that this is a sub-$40 bottle of rum. It's smooth, and lush, with a wonderful balance of caramel, vanilla, and oak, while still having that clean, refined mouthfeel that you expect from a column-still rum. It's fantastic on its own, and remains one of my favorite components of most tiki drinks as well. It absolutely shines in a mai tai with a good Jamaican pot-still as a funky counterpoint (I'd suggest my favorite, Appleton 12-year). It's also essential to a good zombie or jet pilot.
If you're drinking on its own, just be prepared for the fact that this has minimal or no added sugar; it's not going to be a Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva or a Zaya. It's dry and clean like a Spanish sherry. It's a much better palate cleanser than a digestif.
As a mixer, I have yet to find a drink in which this doesn't shine. It has this magical ability to play nice with others while still not having its own unique flavors lost among others. I've used it in a Coronado Luaus special before which has somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-12 ingredients, and I can still pick out the unique notes of the Ron del Barrilito even in that setting.
A truly fantastic rum, and amazing at this price point.
Good rum to drink in a tulip shaped glass with an ice cube or a splash of water or straight. Goes down like any good cognac. You do not want to insult this rum by mixing it.
Love this stuff. Way better than Bacardi Solera or possibly Bacardi 8 for that matter. Just a finer produced product all around.
Edit - bumping this up to a 10, just love this rum!!!!
The smokiness continues to build the more you drink of it.
Picked it up on the way out of Puerto Rico knowing little about this 3 Star or sipping rum. The flavor made me add less and less coke till there was just the rum and the ice by the third glass. After easily polishing the bottle off, I desperately needed more of that rich smokey after taste!
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