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Kimberly Road


Larry              Moe              Curley

Touring Ron Del Barrilito

Unchanged since 1880 is a rum that traces its roots to a time when Puerto Rico was still a Spanish colony. "Pedro Fernández returned to Hacienda Santa Ana after studying engineering in France, where he learned about the process of crafting aged spirits. Inspired by many classmates, such as Cartier, Eiffel, Michelin, and Ergot, he came back with the dream of revolutionizing the aged rum category by elevating the crafting process." Fernández would give samples of his rum to friends in little barrels or "barrilitos" in Spanish.

Today RDB blends five expressions of its rum. Each hand-crafted small batch goes through a process called maceration. This is where a small amount of the rum is infused with dried fruits and spices, adding a unique character to the rum's flavor profile. Ron Hacienda Santa Ana is an over proof variety for mixing and is released at cask strength or 138 proof. Additionally there are bottles ranging from the Two Star up to Five Star, the latter selling for $799.00. The original Ron del Barrilito (Three Star, priced at $43.99), aged 6 to 10 years in white oak barrels that were previously used for aging Oloroso sherry in Jerez, Spain. The Three Star is described as "Medium body with a natural dark reddish color. Aromas of almonds, vanilla, raisins, and bananas with a strong woody backbone. Very smooth and fruity sweetness with a lingering smoky finish."

The tour of Ron Del Barrilito starts with a cocktail served next to their gift shop and tasting room. There is also a separate room for their mixology class, although we chose the tasting class. Tours cost $80.00/person when combining the Heritage Tour with either the tasting or mixology class. The price includes the pre-tour cocktail. I opted for the Barrilito Old Fashioned, a choice I did not regret.

A brief history of the founder, family, and company are provided while touring the Hacienda Santa Ana, until recently the home of the Fernández family. A short walk to the production facility begins in the packaging area. From there a discussion of the maceration process is followed by smelling jars of vanilla and other ingredients to provide an example of how the fruits and spices are combined with the rum.

A special barrel #1 from 1952 is reserved for a celebration when Puerto Rico gains its independence and the rum will be served to the public for free. Following the tour is an optional tasting or mixology class. Preferring the tasting class, we were served a flight of the Two Star, Three Star, Four Star, and Five Star blends. Octavio, our tour guide, led us through sampling each variety as we discussed the aromas and flavor notes. A poll was taken to assess which blend was the favorite. I preferred the Four Star, but it's hard to say if confirmation bias was at play due to what was to come. That said, rum enthusiasts often prefer a younger variety as the aged rum, while smoother, can lose some of its character over time. It is not uncommon to see online comments of individuals who prefer the Four Star over the Five Star, and I was not alone in this particular bent.

While the tour officially ended after the tasting event, my experience continued into the gift shop. Beyond the normal company swag, I bought bottles of Three Star to bring back as gifts. The surprise was the free sample of their Coquito - a blend of rum plus canned, evaporated, and coconut milk. Coquito is a holiday drink in Puerto Rico similar to eggnog. Finally, the moment I came for, bottling the Ron Del Barrilito Four Star. This variety is only sold on-location, although there are bottles on the reseller market. I was excited to bottle my own Four Star directly from a barrel conveniently staged in the gift shop. Octavio assisted by talking me through the bottling process, including adding a wax seal stamped with the company logo. Mission accomplished!

For the recipe on how to make the Barrilito Old Fashioned, check out that post here:


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