Interview with Diplomatico Rum: Jose Ballesteros, Tito Cordero & Patrick Rabion

Diplomatico Rum delegates Jose Ballesteros (Diplomatico President), Tito Cordero (Master Blender) and Patrick Rabion (Global Export Director) visited Australia in September for the first time and hosted a series of welcome events and rum masterclasses around the country.

Interview with Diplomatico Rum
L-R: Jose Ballesteros, Corinne Mossati, Tito Cordero & Patrick Rabion

At EDV Bar in Melbourne, I had the opportunity to interview all three gentlemen. The interview was conducted in three languages, English, Spanish and French as Master Blender Tito Cordero spoke in Spanish with French-born Patrick Rabion translating. In this interview, they discuss what makes Diplomatico Rum unique, the growth of the rum category and future plans for the brand.

Corinne: Rum is a spirit category that does not have one single set of governing rules. What makes Diplomatico Rum different to other rums?
Tito: Our production combines artisanal processes with technology. Diplomatico is not  like other rum brands, it’s a complex and boutique rum. Our rum is made from two different raw materials, molasses and sugar cane honey. We use our own proprietary yeast. It’s made from a combination of different types of distillates which is also unique. Each still (pot still, batch kettle, column still and barbet column) produces a unique alcohol. Also each distillate is aged separately. We use different types of barrels, mostly ex bourbon casks but also whisky and sherry. The terroir gets full sun and has special climactic conditions for our rum. In addition, it’s our people who make it special. These are the combination of factors that make Diplomatico unique.

Corinne: We’ve seen a recent boom in the whisky and gin categories, where do you see the rum category today?
Patrick: We see the same evolution. Rum is evolving in Europe especially premium rum with sales up by 30%. People are looking for premium sipping rum. The category is going  strong with the exception of Spain.

Corinne: Have you seen a change in the way consumers perceive rum in recent years?
Patrick: Before it used to be rum and coke, or a Cuba Libre, the easiest way to have rum in a drink. Now there is more interest in sipping rum. Many whisky and cognac drinkers are becoming more interested in aged dark rum.

Corinne: Is there a market that has surprised you with their uptake of rum?
Jose: France was the first and a surprising one as it has a variety of spirits including agricole rhum. Europe now makes up 80% of the global sales which is significant when there is competition with Pernod Ricard and Bacardi.

Corinne: What are some of the challenges you face for the rum category?
Patrick: I don’t see any big issues. Our range is growing – a premium brand, small production. Our premium brand is globally growing and Diplomatico is going very well. Globally, I don’t see challenges ahead.

Corinne: Do you have any plans for developing additional rums or spirits in the near future?
Patrick: We’re looking at making some adjustments. The Classic range has 3 products and we’re positioning Diplomatico Reserva as the top mixing rum, Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva as the best dark sipping rum, and repositioning Diplomatico Blanco as the premium white sipping rum. In the premium range, we have Single Vintage and Ambassador and next year, we will launch a new premium category in spring. We’re also working on an iconic rum.

Corinne: What’s your favourite rum and how do you enjoy drinking it?
Jose: Everything has a time. If it’s the first drink, something acidic with citrus like a  Daiquiri. With a meal, a classic cocktail. At the end of the night, Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva and with a cigar, Diplomatico Ambassador or Single Vintage.

Tito: Similar to Jose, there is a moment for everything. It’s like asking a father which of their children they love the most. For sentimentality’s sake, it’s Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva but Diplomatico brings an opportunity for each occasion.

Patrick: It depends on the occasion and the moment. There is an emotional part to enjoying the rum, whether it’s glassware, the company or in a romantic setting. At the end of the night, it’s Single Vintage or Ambassador. In other words, choose the moment the company et le rhum c’est fait pour ça / and the rum is made for that.

In the series… Be the Face of Diplomático Rum and Diplomatico Rum with Master Blender Tito Cordero.

Gourmantic travelled to Melbourne as guests of Baranows Emporium and Diplomatico Rum.

Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.


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Interview with Diplomatico Rum: Jose Ballesteros, Tito Cordero & Patrick Rabion was last modified: December 28th, 2015 by Corinne Mossati

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Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the founder and editor of Gourmantic. An avid scribe, she has taken pen to paper since the age of five. Her repertoire includes long works of fiction, short stories and travelogues. She is a winner of the GT travel writing competition, has judged the Australasian Whisky Awards and several cocktail competitions. She is also named in the Australian Bartender Most Influential List.