The Ron Barcelo rum line is produced in the Dominican Republic and runs one of the greenest environmentally forward zero-waste distilleries in the Caribbean. They ferment the juice from their own estate grown sugarcane to create their product line and distill the liquid using modern column stills. I had the opportunity to visit it during a WIRSPA- backed trip and was really impressed with their entire operation, including the health and education of the surrounding community.
Imperial Onyx is a blend of ten year old rums that are aged in heavily charred white oak barrels. All other Barcelo products are aged in lightly toasted to medium charred barrels so this departure makes a notable difference in the look and feel of the product. After the rums are blended, Barcelo staff filters the rum through onyx stones, which in ancient times was worn and used to repel negative thoughts and fears. Bottled at 40% ABV the proof of the rum is consistent with the rest of their line.
The rum comes in a bottle that is encased in a black plastic shell. Pouring the rum in the glass I discovered a dark mahogany liquid. Swirling it, a medium ring formed around the glass that thickened before dropping thick, slow moving legs. Then, a second series of teardrops ran down the side of the glass before eventually evaporating.
The aroma of the rum reminds me of a dessert-dark chocolate, caramelized vanilla, black cherries, figs and plums, punctuated by a solid coffee note.
After sipping the rum I was surprised how forward the fruit notes were. The cherry notes lead the way while the plum and fig notes followed. Cinnamon, char and allspice flashed briefly across the tongue as the dark chocolate mocha swirl took over before fading into a light spicy vanilla and allspice finish.
First, the gimmick of it being filtered in onyx just annoys me. I detest this type of thing and Barcelo makes good enough rum without stooping to such marketing stupidity. So much for repelling negative thoughts...
In the past when I have had rums that are aged in heavily charred barrels, the smoke and char notes were dominant in the flavor profile. The dynamics of the imperial onyx profile and range of the flavors pleased me. I found this particularly interesting because I am grossly indifferent to the regular Barcelo Imperial rum. The finish of the rum is flattened slightly by the wood tannins “allspice” note that twists a little bitter, balancing out any sweetness from the vanilla notes. Perfectly serviceable neat, I have also been told that it is good mixed with ginger beer, as well as an ingredient in coffee cocktails.