Casa Santana Colombia 12 - Rum Review

Casa Santana is a rum that’s created by Casa Santana Ron Y Licores. A company that’s been in existence for about 25 years. They are located in Barranquilla, a coastal city north of Cartagena in Colombia. Miguel Riascos Noguera is the founder, Giraldo Mituoka Kagana the master blender. They are responsible for brands like Ron Juan Valdez, Ron Santero, Ron Cana and the more well known La Hechicera (this translates as “the sorceress”, which explains part of the cool Casa Santana label) . They also produce aguardiente, the nations favourite anise flavoured alcoholic beverage.


Their website states:”We make rums for private brands designed for both the national and international markets. We also supply private label, white label and bulk rums.” They do this by buying, blending and ageing distillates from different distilleries. Those can be from Colombia and from foreign distilleries, although they say they are working towards buying Colombian rum only.


The bottler is That Boutique-y Rum Company, a division of Atom Brands. This UK based firm has the following slogan on their website:”We aim to provide a total understanding of the liquid in the bottle so you can navigate and explore the category with confidence. No confusing mumbo-rumbo, just exceptional rum.” I love no confusing mumo-rumbo! In Peter Holland they have a well known rum ambassador on board to promote their products.


Casa Santana is a blend of rums from 2 distilleries in Colombia, rum from Venezuela and rum from Panama. The Colombian rum landscape is a bit of a challenging one. At times it can be hard to find out who’s making what and if it’s actually all distilled in the country. Click here for a review of multiple Colombian rums where I discuss this issue in more detail. Casa Santana is pretty transparent in comparison to most, despite not disclosing the exact distilleries where the rum was made. Transparency is a good thing in most situations. However, in this case it does show that the provenance of this product is questionable at best. How can this be labeled as Colombian rum when part of it isn’t distilled in Colombia? Is it misrepresenting the Colombian rum profile, or is it trying to create a new one? One that’s more favourable with the international rum community? Dictador, Parce and La Hechicera are probably some of the best selling “Colombian” rums on the international market. I’m guessing here, as I don’t have sales numbers (Medellin will be up there). All three have at least a part foreign distillate in it, and some are completely foreign. Why? Do they feel traditional Colombian rum won’t sell outside of Latin America?


The label states:”Casa Santana Colombia. Multi column rum, multiple distilleries”. Casa Santana the company is from Colombia…..which is one way to justify naming the country. There is more than one distillery in Colombia, so “Multiple distilleries” could mean they are all in Colombia. On the back label it states:”product of Colombia”, which is a true statement, since they are buying, ageing and blending foreign and national distillates in Colombia. Realistically they couldn’t call that a Venezuelan rum. They made it into a unique product in Colombia. However, it’s somewhat misleading without mentioning the foreign distillates on the label. A similar (but worse) Colombian offender is Parce. They buy foreign rum, bottle it in Colombia and call it Colombian rum.




I’m always interested in rums from Colombia, as my partner is from there. I’ve visited the country quite a few times. During those visits I’ve tasted a lot of different Colombian rums and shared them with locals. It’s given me a better understanding of what Colombian rum is about and what the local people like about them. It’s what made me super curious about this Casa Santana rum.


I tasted it in a couple of sessions with Grander 8 year from Panama as a comparison. That is a 54.6% column still rum versus the 12 year Casa Santana at 58.4%.


Nosing


It’s an interesting one, with lots to explore. The oak is quite strong, then vanilla, nutmeg, pepper, marzipan, milk chocolate, tobacco and cigarette smoke. There is an underlying fruitiness and it seems a bit winey. Coming back to it from nosing Grander I got a strong whiff of licorice. Nice nose!


In comparison, the Grander is a bit thinner and less aromatic. Takes a bit more time to get into.

Tasting


Tons of wood spice, creating quite a lot of bitterness. There’s vanilla, some smoke, dark chocolate, black tea, nutmeg and pepper. It’s mostly wood and bitterness that stand out to me. The finish has some vanilla, it’s peppery and rubbery, quite flat and rather bitter. I’m considering adding some sugar.


Instead I added some water, which made it slightly more pleasant, as it pushed back some of that wood and bitterness. Next up, a rum and Coke. 50/50 measurement. Wow, it basically cancels out most of the sweetness of the Coke, had to add more Coke. After doing that, it actually turned into a great drink. A win!


Following experiment was adding some glycerine. It’s incredible what a few drops of glycerine do to the mouth feel. It pushes the alcohol back and makes it rounder, easier, more “smooth”. It adds something artificial but then it kills the bitterness at the same time. It’s hard to pick which one I liked more, with or without glycerine. I let my partner taste both, without her knowing what it was. She said “oh that’s way too sweet” at the first one. The second was “way too bitter”. She picked the sweet one as her slight favourite before I told her both samples were the same rum.


I sampled Grander next to it and found it less bitter with plenty of oak, vanilla and wood spice. It isn’t super complex but it is more pleasant.


Conclusion


The provenance of this product is dodgy. It should be clear to consumers what they are drinking and spending their money on. This product, like so many South American rums, fails on this aspect…although not nearly as bad as some others. A quick check on the Masters of Malt website brings up the following:”Casa Santana Colombian rum from That Boutique-y Rum Company”. It’s similar to Zacapa still being called and a 23 year old rum. So despite the promise of “no confusing mumbo-rumbo”, there definitely is some.


When it comes to taste, it’s difficult to compare Casa Santana to any of the Colombian rums I have. Simply because none of them come close to that high abv. Compared to La Hechicera, the Casa Santana makes a better impression than when I compared it to Grander. La Hechicera is very light in comparison.


Compared to Botero it is again very hard as the abv difference is too large. In the end though, I feel Botero at 55% would be more interesting.


I’ve often wanted a Colombian rum with a higher abv. This is the first one where I’d like to reduce the abv and perhaps the ageing. I preferred the Grander 8, which I didn’t expect. The nose is very nice, the palate disappointing. I wouldn’t buy another bottle.


Score


Casa Santana Colombia – 62


Click here for info on the scoring method.


Click here for the complete list of reviews.

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