This rum has been sitting on my review shelf for a long time – longer than I care to admit. I figured it was time to open it up and give this Venezuelan beauty a try.
Santa Teresa Claro is a “white” rum offering from Ron Santa Teresa SA, the same people who give us Santa Teresa 1796. It seems odd to call it a white rum when it is very clearly not white (really white rums aren’t white, they’re clear – or in Spanish, claro), but is instead a golden color similar to straw. Oh, irony!
The Claro is a molasses-based rum that is created by blending rums that have been aged for an average of three years in used American oak casks. The rum is blended and then bottled at 40% abv.
Of course, spending around three years in wood would make the rum a much darker color than what we see in the bottle. As with many of the more typical white rums on the market, the Santa Teresa uses a charcoal filtering process on the Claro to reduce the dark amber color of the spirit out of the barrel to the soft straw color in the bottle and the glass.
Overall the nose is sugary with vegetal highlights and a strong astringency.
The first thing to tickle your nose from a glass of Santa Teresa Claro is the sweet scent of caramelized sugar. Sweetness and richness give way to notes of grass and coconut before the more astringent qualities of the alcohol make their assault. This isn’t the smoothest rum you’ll ever smell, but for something in the white category the nose is boastful of a great deal of complexity.
Light on the palate in the entry, the first thing you taste is sugar – almost cotton candy-like. The entry very quickly dissipates and the astringency from the nose finds its away across your tongue and down your throat very quickly. This rum is not a sipper.
Once you get past the initial shock of ethanol and go back for a second or third sip, you start finding very pleasant notes of toasted coconut, banana, and raw cane. There is a sweetness throughout the tasting experience that makes a valiant effort to combat the ethanol burn, but ultimately loses out.
Not a sipper? Why bother reading on? I would hate it!
“INCORRECT,” says I!
All of those qualities mentioned above may not make this rum the choice for your glass when you’re aiming to sit with a single ice cube and a nice cigar, but they lend wonderful qualities to cocktails.
If I had to pick an analog for the Santa Teresa Claro, it would have to be Havana Club’s Añejo 3 Años. The same notes of cane, coconut, banana, and the same levels of astringency that Havana Club expresses in a rum that works so wonderfully in daiquiris and mojitos are all found in the Santa Teresa Claro. In other words, if you’re looking for a legal-in-the-USA stand-in for Havana Club 3, look no further.
With the right proportions of lime and sugar, this rum goes beyond the word “delightful” in a daiquiri and is masterful in a mojito. Letting those little touches of sweet and sour smooth out the rough edges of the Claro are exactly what the doctor ordered – repeatedly. Just be sure to use the right amount of sugar – 1 tsp if you’re using superfine sugar, .5 oz if you’re using simple syrup (2:1).
2 oz Rum
.75 oz Lime Juice
1 tsp Sugar
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
For more complicated cocktails that rely on more subtlety, you probably want to go with something softer and rounder, but where this rum is good, it’s very, very good.
The Long & The Short Of It
Who knew they made such great Cuban rum in Venezuela?
Santa Teresa may not be well-known for their offerings to the lower shelves in our liquor stores and bars, but their Claro rum is a terrific take on a “cocktail” white rum. It isn’t very smooth and probably shouldn’t be consumed on its own, but those faults that haunt its sippability rating seem to greatly enhance its mixability.
In the end I had a hard time ranking Santa Teresa Claro because when in the applications that it is not great, it’s relatively terrible, but in the applications that it was obviously designed for, it approximates amazing with great aplomb. As a sipper, it’s a 1 out of 5. As a mixer in something like an El Presidente it isn’t much better. As a mixer in the classic cocktails of Cuba? It’s an easy 5 out of 5 every time.
Dood’s Rating: 3 Bottles of Rum Out of 5
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