Daniel Prieto Preston is an aerospace engineer who comes from a family of sugar cane and cacao farmers in the Dominican Republic. He launched Cacao Prieto in 2010, setting up a chocolate factory first, then a distillery more recently in Brooklyn, New York. Taking an “if it grows together, it goes together” approach, Prieto Preston blends his white rum (crafted from organic evaporated cane juice and fermented with wine yeasts) with organic cacao beans and barrel-ages it to create the most exquisitely robust expression of chocolate I’ve ever enjoyed. Called Don Rafael Cacao Rum, it’s redolent of roasted coffee, tobacco and cacao, as intense as drinking dark chocolate. While the Don Rafael has no sugar, the Don Esteban Cacao Liqueur does, getting enough sweetness from an addition of cane sugar to take the edge off the cacao’s natural bitterness, but not so much that it gets cloying.
Reviewed in W&S Winter 2013.