Review – Santa Teresa Rum
Considering its size it is perhaps surprising that Venezuala is not as prominent on the world rum market as several of the much smaller Caribbean islands. There are in fact only two distilleries producing rum for export, with Santa Teresa being the only one producing a single brand. It was way back in 1796 that the Count of Tovar founded Hacienda Santa Teresa, although rum wasn’t produced until 100 years later in 1896. Despite growing in size by quite some considerable volume in the ensuing 200 years, the estate still grows all its own sugarcane to produce its rum (over 45,000 tons in fact), as well as some 1,500 quintals of coffee to produce its coffee liqueur Araku. In addition to the Claro and Anejo Gran Reserva reviewed below, the brand also produces ‘Selecto’ and ‘1796’ rum plus an orange liqueur.
Santa Teresa Claro is a blend of rums aged for up to three years in oak barrels and casks and is a mix of ‘light’ and ‘heavy’ rums.
Neat: A big improvement on the nose with a moderately sweet and buttery entry leading to a surprisingly boldly oaked mid-palate for a ‘white’ rum. Hints of tropical fruit keep things fresh and are balanced by a touch of cracked pepper on the finish.
Mixing: This is a rum that doesn’t like to be the star attraction; instead it is much happier playing a supporting role, and does so with some grace. Such a personality means it lacks the character needed for a truly great Daiquiri, although it is at least inoffensive and easy-drinking. This does however make it a solid choice in fruity numbers such as the Chilli and Watermelon Daiquiri where this rum has just enough backbone to provide a bit of body without trying to dominate proceedings. It seems as though it is the barrel-ageing that is contributing most of the flavour in this rum and thus there isn’t a great deal to be enhanced by its mixing with other flavours. The signature Mulata (recipe below) also makes use of the highly approachable nature of this rum, as does the King’s Jubilee. Whilst this rum isn’t likely to excite in rum-forward drinks, it mixes with sufficient versatility to warrant praise for its approachability.
Signature Cocktail – Mulata
1oz Santa Teresa Claro Rum, 0.5oz Dark Creme de Cacao, 0.75oz Lime Juice, 0.25oz Sugar Syrup
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocoa-rimmed glass.
Santa Teresa Anejo Gran Reserva is also a blend of rums, aged for up to five years in oak barrels and casks.
Nose: In keeping with the house style set by the Claro, the aromas are hardly ones to bowl you over with their intensity. Surprisingly for a product labelled as an Anejo, there remains a distinct whiff of raw alcohol which is cut largely by subtle smoked oak and a touch of red fruit. Butter and vanilla are present too, but remain very much in the background.
Neat: A sweet entry is balanced by an otherwise reasonably light-bodied palate and the fact it dries rapidly on the palate to leave a finish that is peppery and almost astringent in nature. Molasses kick things off in the flavour department little sign of the red fruit on the nose, although a hint of apple seems to haven taken their place. The palate is certainly deeper and more complex than the Claro as would have been expected from the additional ageing but it doesn’t quite yet fall into the sipping category.
Mixing: In line with this rums status as a mixing (vs sipping) rum, it does not play to its strengths when mixed in short and spirit-forward drinks such as an Old Fashioned or Palmetto. In these drinks even light-handed use of bitters results in an imbalance of flavours, and the dilution without other flavours to step in and help reveal some gaps in the depth of flavour of this rum. By contrast longer drinks such as the signature Venezuelan Mule (recipe below) or Punch make use of the structure provided by the oak and tease out some of the more hidden fruity flavours. The drier aspects of this rum also offer some versatility not present with its typically sweeter cousins when used as the base spirit in the Espresso Martini. This is a rum to enjoy in long, refreshing, summery drinks where, like its sister Claro it is quite happy to play a supporting role.
Signature Cocktail – Venezuelan Mule
2oz Santa Teresa Anejo Gran Reserva Rum, 0.75oz Lime Juice, 0.5oz Vanilla Sugar Syrup, 2 Dash Old Fashioned Bitters, Ginger Beer.
Shake first four ingredients with ice and strain over ice into a highball glass. Top with ginger beer.
Santa Teresa Claro and Anejo are two light-bodied rums that offer an easy-drinking and approachable option for cocktail mixing. Best suited to longer drinks and those where other ingredients are expected to offer the primary flavours, they nonetheless have value as true mixing rums.
Santa Teresa Rum is available to buy from Master of Malt.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.