During my recent sojourn to South America I was able to pick up a few additions to the Rum Diaries. Sadly, my trip started in Santiago de Chile and ended in Buenos Aires, rather than the other way around. While Santiago probably has the best imported rum selection of any major South American city, Buenos Aires is much more limited (probably thanks to the local preference for Fernet & cola – fucking heathens). I faced the terrible conundrum of buying all 2.5L of rum on day one of the trip and having to lug it around for 3 weeks (and resist drinking it) – or chancing my luck in Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, because I was leading a group and had my responsible hat on, I also had much less time than usual to devote to rum drinking & shopping. As a result, I feel my rum choices were a little pedestrian…Sigh.
The first cab off the rank is from the little Caribbean island that punches well above its weight in rum production – the Dominican Republic. I snapped up this bottle on my last day in Buenos Aires – the weather was truly miserable and bucketing rain so rather than luxuriate, looking in every liquor shop in town, I merely ducked into the closest one to my hotel and hoped for the best. Although the Argentine economy is tanking and local products are literally getting cheaper by the day, imported goods are highly taxed and relatively expensive. The 12 años Flor de Caña I’d seen through the window was an eye-watering AUD$130 – not far off what I’d pay in Melbourne. I had to lower my sights somewhat and settled for the Ron Barcelo Gran Añejo, at around AUD$27.
At only 37.5%, the old Barcelo slips down rather smoothly, without a hint of boozy burn – a good training rum for those who aren’t used to quaffing spirits. It’s relatively sweet, vanilla-y in the way that many Caribbean rums are, and good, but not great. I’d take a Bacardi 8 Year over Barcelo any day, and they’re fairly similar price-wise. We can usually gauge the amount of respect a rum deserves by how long we make it last, and let’s just say that I got back to Melbourne three weeks ago, and the Barcelo is but a distant memory. It’s a throw-down, not a keeper.