Friday, January 15, 2010

Review: Ron Zacapa Centenario 23

Hailing from Guatemala is Ron Zacapa's well-regarded 23 year old rum. Guatemala isn't really thought of as being one of the typical rum-producing countries, and indeed, Zacapa isn't a typical rum - for one, it's distilled from sugar cane, rather than molasses. It's then aged in bourbon and sherry casks; though the bottle says that it's 23 years old, that's actually a bit of a misnomer, as Zacapa is aged according to the solera process. In this process, the rum is aged in a series of casks; each cask contains rum of a certain age. Occasionally, a portion of the rum from the oldest cask is bottled, and then the portion taken out of the oldest cask is refilled with some of the rum from the next-oldest cask, and so on and so on, with newly-distilled rum finally being added to the youngest cask. That's a bit confusing, but the point is that at any given time, each cask contains rum with a fairly continuous spectrum of ages. Here, the oldest rum in the bunch is about 23 years old, and so that's the age given on the bottle.

But this is a rum review, not a logic puzzle about cask aging, so here goes. The rum comes in a sharp-looking corked bottle, wrapped in a ring of woven fiber, which is kind of a neat touch. It pours out a dark brown - it's a little lighter than your typical dark rum (e.g. Gosling's or Myers'), but not by much. Subtle aroma of sugarcane (with a bit of cachaca character), vanilla, and cinnamon; these sweet smells contrast with an alcoholic edge. Sugarcane also dominates the flavor, but the cachaca character is gone - it's now undoubtedly rummy. Nicely sweet, it has notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and just a hint of citrus. The mouthfeel is excellent - rich, with little burn. The finish comes with a nice lingering sweetness, and a bit of woodiness.

This is an excellent rum, and given its age and quality, also an excellent value. The sugarcane character really makes it quite unique, and it's hugely pleasant to sip on. Highly recommended.

Price: ~$42

Value: 19/20
Overall Quality: 19/20

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