Dictador XO Perpetual
Review: Dictador XO Perpetual 91/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted August 19, 2012 (Revisited December 2014)
Dictador is produced in Colombia on the Caribbean coast at Cartagena de Indias City. Rather than being produced from molasses, the rum is produced from the virgin honey of sugar cane which has been distilled upon a stainless steel alembic, and aged using Dicatador’s unique take on the solera-style aging system. Although the rum is produced upon a stainless steel alembic, the inner workings of this still contain more than enough copper such that it functions in basically the same manner as a copper pot still.
Dictator’s solera aging system is a cascading process where younger rums are aged in oak casks and then blended with older rums. The aged rum are arranged in different flights with the oldest distilled rum on the lowest levels of the Solera. The younger rums are placed on the upper levels with the very youngest rums at the top. As the rum is pulled from the lowest barrels for bottling, the barrels are not fully emptied, and those barrels (about half full) are then topped up with rum from the levels just above. This marrying of old and new softens the fiery younger rum and provides the final blended rum with a refined smoothness and flavor not found in ordinary rums.
A unique feature of the Dictador Solera System is that in addition to the younger rums being married with older rums, the barrels of similarly aged rums along one level of the solera are periodically consolidated to keep the barrels as full as possible to maintain fuller contact with the wood, and to inhibit the acceleration of the evaporation within the barrels.
Additional statements on the Dictador website speak to a difference in the aging regimen used for the XO rums. Although the information is not specific, it appears that the major difference is in the oak selected. The intent seems to be to create a different flavour profile for the Dictador XO. As a result, the XO Rums (the Insolent and the Perpetual) promise to offer a new taste experience for the rum connoisseur.
In the Bottle: 4/5
To the left is a photo I snapped of the Dictador XO Perpetual bottle presentation. I am not nearly as fond of the packaging for this rum, as I was for the Dictador 12 Year and the Dictador 20 Year Solera Rums.
Two things jump out at me which I found detracted from what otherwise would have been a very nice presentation. The first problem was with the plastic sleeve (not shown) which fits over the protective box. This sleeve contains a lot of nice information about the rum; but it was also slippery and slides off of the box easily. This forces you to carry the boxed package with one hand underneath. If you do not, the sleeve will slide right off, and your precious rum will fall to the floor. This is cumbersome and annoying! Fitting the sleeve back over the box after you have removed it to get at the rum, is even more troublesome and not worth the effort. I threw my plastic sleeve away very quickly, and I suggest strongly that the Dictador team does the same with this part of their design concept.
The second problem I have with the overall packaging design is the large XO written across the bottle. It is gaudy, and it makes a beautiful, suave bottle design look cheap and tacky. (The bottle design has changed somewhat since I first wrote this critique (see to the right); however I still have the same overall reservations regarding their bottle and packaging concept.)
In the Glass 9/10
Fortunately, when I pour out a sample of my rum into my glencairn glass, all thoughts of ‘cheap and tacky’ immediately disappear. The Dictador XO Perpetual has a beguiling quality in the glass. The initial scents are aromatic and fruity. I sense a wonderful butterscotch sweetness underneath a bouquet of oak and baking spices (vanilla, brown sugars, and cinnamon). Orange peel wells out of the glass, but if you are patient the orange peel soon melds with the butterscotch to give the air a lovely impression of marmalade. Almond-like scents are prevalent, and like the orange peel these scents also meld with the sweet butterscotch bringing a distinct impression of marzipan into the breezes. Amidst all of this aroma, old English toffee and fresh tobacco scents weave in and out as well.
As you let the glass sit even longer, the baking spices deepen adding cloves and nutmeg to the air above the glass with a nice smokiness implying a sherry-like accent on the rum. As I stated earlier the overall effect on the air above the glass is wonderful.
In the Mouth 55.5/60
Initially the Perpetual Rum does not seem as sweet on the palate as it was in the glass. I would describe this as a light to medium bodied rum with a soft dryness. The smoky sherry-like accents are very noticeable initially; but as the rum decants, sweeter flavours of butterscotch and toffee begin to take center stage. There is a moderate amount of oak spice and citrus zest which gives the rum a nice spicy heat. Rich brown sugary baking spices, (in particular vanilla and cinnamon) build alongside the butterscotch and toffee. Flavours of marzipan and marmalade develop as does a nice sensation of fresh tobacco and hints of new leather. I would even suggest that sensations of chocolate and cola find their way into the rum although these impressions are quiet and indistinct.
I like the XO Perpetual a lot, and what I appreciate the most is how the rum appears to be just a little better each time I return to my bottle.
In the Throat 13.5/15
The rum finishes with that same lightly dry smokiness which I had noticed on the initial delivery. Oak spices and citrus peel tickle the throat and leave the palate heated. There is an ever so light bitterness in the finish that was not apparent earlier, and the final flavour impressions which the rum leaves in my memory are leather, tobacco and old English toffee.
The Afterburn 9/10
As I said, I am really liking the Dictador XO Perpetual Rum. It seems to have more flamboyance than the other Dictador Rums (12 Year Solera and 20 Year Solera). It is fruitier and carries less overt oak into the flavour profile. This speaks perhaps to that different aging regimen which is bringing forward new and different elements into the Dictador taste profile. The rum is a great sipper and an elegant mixer (Although I manged to restrict myself mixing only high-end classic cocktails). Of course the best praise which I can give to the Perpetual Rum, is that it is one of those rare rums which seems to taste better every time I have another glass.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
Rum Old Fashioned
2 oz Dictador XO Perpetual Rum
1 tsp simple syrup
1 dash bitters
3 large ice cubes
1 twist of orange peel
Add the first three ingredients to a rocks glass over the ice cubes
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink. (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Drop the peel into the cocktail if desired.
Please Enjoy Responsibly!
My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score as follows:
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)