Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Rum Review & Tasting Notes


I know a lot about whiskey. I’m far from a rum expert. When Diplomático Rum approached me to review its Reserva Exclusiva, I initially declined because I had no idea what it was. Then they told me it was aged in former whiskey casks and asked if I’d reconsider.


Hey, if you’ve found a way to connect your rum to whiskey directly, count me in. So, they sent me a sample.


Diplomático’s rums start with locally grown sugar cane. What’s local? That would be Venezuela! The distillery, located at the base of the Andes Mountains, utilizes three systems to make its rum: a column still, a pot still, and a batch kettle. Diplomático is considered super-premium in its category.


Jose Luis Ballesteros is Diplomático’s national brand ambassador for the United States. His heritage harkens back four generations to Diplomático’s founding family. The brand was purchased by Brown-Forman in 2023, and by Jose remaining with the brand, he can continue to steer things down Diplomático’s traditional path.


Cycling back, we’re exploring Reserva Exclusiva in today’s review. It has been winning awards since 2010, and according to the IWSR, which provides data and analysis for the worldwide beverage market, Reserva Exclusiva was the best-selling “Total rum super-premium and above” category in 2022.


“An elegant and complex sipping rum blended from exclusive aged rum reserves carefully selected by our Master Blenders. It boasts a signature smoothness and an outstanding balance that make it ideal for sipping or creating a twist on classic brown spirits cocktails […] A complex combination of mainly pot and batch kettle distillates, providing a superb balance of heavy and light rums aged in ex-bourbon and ex-whiskey casks.” - Diplomático


Reserva Exclusiva is packaged at 40% ABV (80°) with a suggested retail price of $39.99. It aged for at least twelve years.


Will this be whiskey-like? The only way to answer that is to #DrinkCurious. First, I must thank Diplomático for this opportunity in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: I sipped this rum as I do with whiskey; I used a Glencairn glass and poured it neat. Its color was like caramel. The thin rim shed massive, fast tears.


Nose: I smelled molasses, toffee, and grapes. I have no idea why grapes would hit my olfactory sense; perhaps it was from one of the former non-Bourbon whiskey barrels? There was a slight aroma of cinnamon and orange zest as well. When I drew the air into my mouth, I found vanilla and orange peel (In case you’re curious, peel is more potent than zest because of the pith, which is slightly bitter).


Palate: I encountered a creamy mouthfeel that introduced the front of my palate to orange bitters, vanilla, and brown sugar. At the midpoint, I tasted bananas, pineapples, and honey. The back offered raisins, dates, and nutmeg.


Finish: The medium-to-long duration held dates, orange bitters, and molasses; the latter stuck around the longest. It was sweet but slightly drying and warmed my throat.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I could easily imagine Reserva Exclusiva making a great base for an Old Fashioned, mainly because you wouldn’t need to add bitters. Some folks enjoy a rum with funk; with this, I didn’t come across any funkiness I could identify.


For me, that last point made this an enjoyable pour. It won’t eclipse my love for whiskey, but it does make a nice sippin’ spirit. It seems reasonably priced, and I’d be happy to have it for guests who find rum more interesting than whiskey. There’s nothing not to like about it, and as such, it earns my Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you to do so responsibly.