In the world of whisky, the idea of finishing, double maturation, or extra maturation has been around since 1996 when David Stuart, the master blender for Balvenie, created the Balvenie 12-year-old Doublewood. Double maturation is the practice of placing whisky maturing in one type of cask for most of its life into a different kind of cask for the end of its life in wood. The most common finishing is a whisky which has previously been held in ex-Bourbon barrels to be placed in ex-Sherry barrels for a short time before bottling. This practice gives extra richness and depth of flavour.
Double maturation is now done with rum. Dictador is leading this rum innovation with fabulous collaborations between Dictador and makers of other drinks aged in oak. Dictador has created the 2 Masters series. The process begins with very old Dictador casks from the early 1970s to the 1980s and gives them to other drinks makers to mature in their casks. So far in the series casks from the Royal Takaji Company barrels, Bourbon from Barton, Hardy Cognac, Sauternes from Chateau D’Arche, Leclerc Briant Champagne, Bordeaux from Despagne, Laballe Armagnac and Whisky from Glenfarclas have been used. There will also be Dictador finished in Nieport Pedro Ximenez barrels soon.
The surprise in tasting all these fabulous old rums was the difference the extra finishing made. I would have thought that Champagne barrels (rather, the barrels which held the white wine which would become Champagne), would have given little to an already rich and deep flavored rum, but a vinous sweetness and floral note indicated the influence was certainly there. Likewise, the Scotch provides a bevy of extra spices, and the Bordeaux adds notes of red fruits to complement the banana and fig profile in the rum. All the collaborations were successful in different ways and made tasting them an experience I will savor, and I can't wait to taste the following expression.
These expressions of Dictador are superb and give an insight into something exceptional. Created this year in partnership with Lalique, Dictador released an exceedingly rare 1976 vintage. With casks specially selected by both the present master blender Hernan Parra and his father Dario, it is called Dictador Generations. It has aromas and flavors ranging from dried dates and manuka honey to sandalwood, spice, and antique furniture polish with immense complexity. This is one of the greatest rums I have ever tasted, and I hope they continue to release such standout rum.