14 JAN

The Spirit Cellar Online - Santa Teresa Rum

Santa Teresa - Venezuelan God's at work.

Author: David Coveney




I first tasted the brilliant Santa Teresa 1796 at a tasting while working with the Hotel du Vin.  And since then, it has never left my lists, at that time I was not aware of the other products in their range but after a tasting a few years later I fell in love with the brand and its entire portfolio.


Sugar cultivation was already a major part of Venezuelan life at the end of the 16th Century and the Valleys of Aragua, in the heart of the Country was where the highest quality cane was coming from.  It was here that in 1796 the Count of Tovar y Blanco founded Hacienda Santa Teresa, after being given the land by the king of Spain.  Less than 100 years later, in 1885 Gustavo Julio Vollmer Ribas purchased the Hacienda where the original Venezuelan rum has been produced ever since.

'Ron Santa Teresa' is an independent family owned company which is steeped in 200 years of tradition.  Hacienda Santa Teresa is now a very different place to how it used to be.  The last 120 years have seen it be transformed from a simple sugarcane farm and mill into one of the most successful and well known distillers in the country.  Intent on producing, blending and aging the best quality rum, the family is now on its 5th generation, and is stronger than ever before.


Each year, the family harvests a massive 45,000 tons of sugarcane along with 1,500 quintals of 100% Arabica Coffee and they are now producing over 18,000,000 litres of alcohol at their onsite distillery.  Inside their 18 cellars you will find 100,000 barrels and 540 casks where they are aging over 24 million litres of rum per year. Their product range has become very popular, both in the UK and in the U.S.A over recent years and their core products consist of one white rum, 3 aged rums and 2 liqueurs. 




The first in the portfolio is named Claro and has been dubbed the 'Bartenders Favourite'.  This, as a mixing rum, is absolutely perfect. It's fantastic natural, unfiltered and light straw character could often get confused with a Rhum Agricole from Martinique or another one of the French islands.  It is such a versatile product that it is perfect in any cocktail asking for a white rum and for a very long time it has been my chosen Mojito rum, it's intense sugar cane sweetness helps to cut through the fresh lime and mint and really stands out over the soda water.  Just like the rest of the range, it is priced very competitively; making it a brilliant option as a 'poring' or 'house' spirit.




[31-40]   [C]   [M]   [OT]







Next up is the Santa Teresa Anejo, the darker, richer but similarly priced brother of the aforementioned rum. This is a blend of rums that has been aged in oak barrels and casks for 5 years and is the most popular style of rum in Venezuela.  The nose of this expression is fruity, plumy and again, naturally sweet. The palate shows a very silky smooth and warming product with the alcohol being hidden behind a touch of wood and a cooked stone fruit character that helps the rum have a long and distinctive finish. Likes it's younger brother, the Anejo or 'Gran Reserva' as they like to call it is an ideal mixing rum; perfect in a Cuba Libre and is also rich enough to withstand a lighter style of ginger beer and make a fantastic Dark 'n' Stormy. I would not have a problem with using this in a Rum Old Fashioned, but would recommend orange bitters rather than Angostura.




[21-30]   [C]   [M]   [H]









The older and much more mature 'Selecto' is next in the range. And although much older than the Anejo we talked about before, it is a luscious golden colour which comes from the oak hogsheads that it is aged in. I haven't used this rum as much as the others, but it is a brilliant product to use in cocktails you want to make a little bit more special.  It has a very smooth and complex character which helps it to mix well in a deluxe style Mojito.  Try topping it with a rich and aromatic Champagne for that extra kick. As ever, Santa Teresa have made a fantastic rum, but I do think there are other products out there of similar if not better quality at this level.




[11-20]   [C]   [M]   [O-T]




Next, is one of my favourite rums out there.  I spoke about this briefly before but I have been a massive fan of the Santa Teresa 1796 since I first tasted it.  It is a very unique product.  One of the ways that the Hacienda have made this rum so special is by using a Solera system during the aging.  Where the rum is passed through different rows of casks, with each tier holding rums of scaling maturity.  The final product is taken from the bottom row and then a further ageing takes place in large oak vats before bottling.


This is one of those perfect sipping rums, I love it straight up.  To spice it up a little just add some ice and a small slither of fresh lime.  It is a perfect summer sipper but also brilliant in front of the fire over those cold winter nights.  The palate shows that fantastic leathery quality that I love from older styles of rum but it is in no way over powering, a brilliant sweetness is retained that shines through and gives this rum a brilliantly complex and long finish; lingering on the palate for a long time.  It is fantastically priced and extremely reliable.




[41-50]   [S]   [H]   [O-T]  






Finally we get onto a couple of the most interesting and exciting liqueurs out there.  The Rhum Orange Liqueur and the Araku liqueur. The orange liqueur is a brilliant alternative to Grand Marnier and at 40% ABV it is a very fun thing to play around with.   It has a rustic, zesty character that keeps some bitterness of the orange; balancing perfectly with the high sugar content.  One of my favourite cocktails to use this in is very, very simple indeed.  I make a 'Venezuelan Coffee' that is an easy mix of the Rhum Orange Liqueur, strong espresso coffee and a touch of sugar cane syrup, shaken very hard.  It is a fantastic alternative to an Espresso Martini.




[41-50]   [S]   [H]   [O-T]   [C]   [M]    






The Araku is an alternative to liqueurs like Kahlua, and does the job extremely well.  A nice sugar cane richness shines through on this one and it has a brilliant coffee flavour which comes from Santa Teresa's very own coffee plantation which is on site. I like to make a nice and simple White Russian with this, but also like to add it into other cocktails.  It is great for experimenting with and its rich character means you don't need to use a lot.   




[31-40]   [O-T]   [C]   [M]


 All in all, Santa Teresa have created a product for everyone; it is a very versatile range that I would recommend to any rum lover or cocktail enthusiast out there.




Understanding The Spirit Cellar Online


The Scores 


A simple, unbiased and easy to follow scoring system to help you choose the perfect spirit with a set of letters to guide you through its best uses; helping you decide how/where to use it.


0-10 = Poor Quality, Unbalanced

11-20 = Poor Quality, Good Branding

21-30 = Fair Quality, Many Uses

31-40 = High Quality, Balanced, Highly Recommended

41-50 = Top Quality, Extremely Versatile, Perfectly Balanced


I = Interesting/Unusual

C = Great for cocktails

S = Something to sip and savour

OT = An on-trade must

M = Perfect for 'mixing'

H = A must for the home bar


Original Source