You don’t get to affix distinguished-sounding dates to the end of your product name for nothing. In the case of Santa Teresa 1796, its numerals are a callback to the Venezuelan rum maker’s founding.
The expression was first introduced in 1996 to mark Santa Teresa’s 200th anniversary. It is a solera-aged rum, meaning that the original ex-bourbon casks used to age it were never fully drained, but merely “topped off” with slightly younger rum, creating a unique blend of different vintages. In the case of Santa Teresa 1796, that means the oldest rum in its blend has been aged for 35 years.
The rum has a sweet, strong nose with creamy vanilla fudge, burnt caramel, butterscotch, and honey-drizzled Eggo waffles. Despite those sweet, creamy notes, it proves dry and delicate on the tongue with a light, silky texture.
The initial flavors on the palate are honey, butterscotch, and vanilla fudge. It darkens somewhat at the center, where raisins, prunes, and barrel spices emerge with a slight tannic touch, then grows subtly but steadily drier towards the back, as cinnamon mixes with burnt caramel for a spiced yet restrained conclusion. Notes of white pepper can be picked up in its finish, which is long-lasting but reminds one of the final moments of a pop-rock’s half-life, delicate but detectable.
Santa Teresa 1796 is a different breed of rum. Its aging process imparts bourbon-like vanilla and spice, but in a way that’s remarkably soft and subtle, like you’re drinking the ghost of a good bourbon past. Its silky texture and dry mouth, combined with those darker prune and raisin elements, also had me thinking of an Armagnac. But mostly, its flavors and qualities just made me want to refill my glass. And at $45 per bottle, I won’t be feeling too hesitant to do so.
— 43% ABV