A friend of ours was asking questions about our recent rum reviews. We talked about our recent review of Brugal 1888 from Dominican Republic and a previous review of Brugal Extra Viejo. She simply said, “You need to experience Barceló. I bet you’ll never go back to Brugal.” A few weeks later she gave us a bottle of Barceló Gran Añejo for us to review.
Barceló is one of the “big three” Dominican rum producers along with Bermudez and Brugal. Barceló & Co was founded by Spaniard, Julián Barceló, in 1930 after he arrived in Santo Domingo. His dream was to create the best rum in the world. He began his quest by experimenting with different local rums, blending them until he found the right profile. Julián launched the Ron Barceló brand in 1950 with a white and a gold rum. The company continued to grow adding Ron Barceló Imperial, the most internationally awarded Dominican rum, Barceló Añejo and Gran Añejo.
Barceló Gran Añejo is a blend of rums aged in charred oak barrels for a minimum of two years, which is required by law in Dominica Republic, and a maximum of six years. In the United States Barceló is sold at 40% abv while in the rest of the world it’s bottled at 37.5%.
Several years ago we reviewed Brugal Extra Viejo and gave it a rating of 3.25 out of 5. We were definitely split on our decision with Clint finding the rum lacking a “hook” to keep him interested while Terry enjoyed the coconut, cherry and vanilla notes. We both agreed that the finish was warm and comforting after a long day.
The Barceló Gran Añejo has a beautiful golden color with just a slight bit of lacing on the glass. The nose is dominated by oak undertones with hints of orange blossom and cherry. We allowed the first sip to have a natural progression from palate to finish. The rum starts out very subtle then comes alive at the finish. The smooth buttery liquid showcases the orange blossom and cherry with oak nowhere to be found. However, on the finish, we pick up a hint of tannins from the oak with black pepper and cinnamon notes that linger and warm. What we love is that the complexion of the rum changes with each sip. At times it’s orange and cherry forward while other times we do get the complex notes of the oak. What remains the same is the satisfying finish which truly carries this rum.
So was our friend right and we would never go back to Brugal? While we found the Barceló Gran Añejo quite satisfying, even rating it slightly higher than the Brugal, we feel that each has a place in our cabinet. Both have a finish that is warming and inviting however the Barceló Gran Añejo takes the edge with its dedication to the oaky-ness of the barrels.
3.5 out of 5
Sipping Rum Scale
1 – An expensive mixer
2 – A quick celebratory shot
3 – Wouldn’t be embarrassed to share with friends
4 – Are my friends worthy of a sip
5 – Special moments rum