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Ron Matusalem
 Gran Reserva

Category: Dark
Country: Dominican Republic
Aged: 15 years (blended)
Alcohol: 40% (80 proof)
Availability: Limited
Price: $30-$38 (750 mL)
Rating: Four Stars

The Review:
Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva is a dark rum made in what is known as the Solera style, which is a method of blending rums of different ages in stages until the desired age, smoothness, and taste is achieved.  If you are interested in more information on this process, check out Ron Matuselm's website.  They have a pretty good section that details the blending process.

The result is an impressive brown-amber pour that is as classic as its bottle and label, rich with aromas of vanilla, smoky caramel, and alcohol. 

The first sip is a velvet-gloved jab to the tongue and teeth - piercing yet smooth all at the same time. However once the soft bite from the alcohol and spice settles, the tastes are pure rum: wood, molasses, vanilla, smoke, caramel, alcohol.

Further tastes reveal a bit of an earthy tone (leather?) followed by a subtle buttery fruitiness. Slightly dry with a medium-to-full body and a long, sultry finish. Neat or on the rocks, the sipping is superb and in the right setting, yearns to be shared with a cigar.

Given it's Solera origins this rum probably shouldn't be mixed, though a sacrilegious splash of coke with lime does make a powerful combo. Since its roots are in pre-castro Cuba and it is still made in the Cuban style, this is considered to be as close as you can get to genuine Cuban rum for the time being.

My perception is that its rich and somewhat buttery, sweet-but-not-too-sweet flavors are more signature Dominican than Cuban, though certainly this is as close to the real thing without being the real thing as I've yet had.

Bottom line, Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva is among my personal favorites; it's classically delicious and a treat for special occasions. Highly recommended.

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