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Rum Reviews

Dictador 1980, 39 Year Old, Cadenhead's, 59.9% ABV


I circle back to @wmcadenheads for one of their more eye-catching rum releases in recent years, and by that I meant an age statement of nearly four decades old, something we have not seen for awhile now from Cadenhead’s range. Yet this one might raise some eyebrows given that it comes from the Colombian brand Dictador, where questions remain about the provenance of its distillate and production methods, with some suggesting that the rum was in fact distilled in Panama before being brought to Colombia for aging. Though if you’d like to read in depth about this, I’d recommend an article written by @durhumpointcom and his findings.

For completeness, the label tells us that the rum was a blend of pot and column still distillate from the year 1980, aged for 39 years before bottling in November 2019 with an outturn of 282 bottles at cask strength of 59.9% abv. One little thing that remains unknown was for how long was this cask aged for in the tropics or in continental Europe.

On to the nose, I thought this would’ve been a perfect dram for Christmas, almost fruit cake-like, a dash of baking spices, caramel, although there was a rather sharp green note in the mix that I couldn’t really put my finger on, paired with a savoury accompaniment, something like oyster sauce perhaps. And then there was also a tinge of nuttiness, perhaps light salted peanuts, and soft wafts of tobacco smoke too.

The palate was interesting because the savouriness was rather much, intense and with a rather thick, treacly, and somewhat juicy texture too, almost akin to a basket full of raisins and a sprinkle of liquorice bits in the mix. And despite the 39 years of aging, there was very little evidence of wood, in fact it did come across fresh and citrusy, which could possibly point to either an inactive cask or a light column still distillate. Yet I could not get over how the finish was so akin to a whisky actually, where the rum got slightly thinner at the end and became rather light, simple, with vanilla and malts, and if I may, even little hints of peat.

I did actually find this a pleasant and well-constructed rum, with many similarities to the 37-year-old Panamanian from Bellamy’s that I thoroughly enjoyed too. It is if not another indicator that well-matured, light, column still rums are indeed able to hold their own, and certainly no slouch even when compared to its pot still cousins. It is rather unfortunate then about the controversies behind it all, but I would say to always keep an open mind, and for those who plan on spending serious money on your rums, always, always do your homework.


Image Courtesy of @weixiang_liu


Your occasional rum addict!