Over the years we have reviewed several rums from the Central American region. Panamanian rums such as Kaniche and Ron Abuelo hold their own against any of the finer Caribbean rums while Ron Zacapa from Guatemala is known as the gold standard benchmark in rum competitions. This month we ventured into Costa Rica where Ron Centenario rum has quickly grown from a local to an international brand.
Centenario Internacional was established in the late 1970s under the name of Seagram of Costa Rica S.A. The company represented several global brands as well as producing some spirits of their own including Vodka Nikolai and Ronrico white rum. The Ron Centenario brand was created in the 1980s as a high quality artisanal rum for the consumer with a more refined and demanding palette helping propel the company into being the rum leader in Costa Rica.
Shortly after the company’s name changed in 2002, Centenario Internacional became an independent company and began exporting to the United States and countries within Europe. Today the company exports a variety of blanc and flavored rums along with a line of sipping rums ranging from 5 – 30 year olds.
Ron Centenario Reserva de la Familia 18yo is made from sugar cane grown locally in Costa Rica’s rich, volcanic soil. Once distilled, the rum is aged in white oak barrels for up to 18 years using a traditional solera system.
Our best friend, James, was in town for this tasting so we welcomed his opinion. Unfortunately this rum didn’t spark much debate between the three of us, all agreeing on many of the notes and overall opinion.
The dark mahogany liquid provides rich lacing on the glass. The nose is extremely subtle with all of us lingering over the scent for quite some time looking for a dominant profile to present itself. There are soft notes of coconut husks with hints of vanilla on the back end and absolutely no alcohol burn. The palate is just as subtle with no single note taking the lead. Clint tastes some oak which provides a bit of spice while Terry and James struggle to find any notes worth mentioning. The producers want you to experience wet tobacco, chocolate and spices such as nutmeg, allspice and mace. Terry will concede maybe a hint of dark chocolate, however the strong spices are just not there. Having this rum over ice, while refreshing, doesn’t bring out more notes. The finish lingers ever so slightly and doesn’t provide a warming effect.
Despite the subtlety of the rum’s notes, we continued going back for more. At $46/bottle we expected more from Ron Centenario Reserva de la Familia 18yo however, we will definitely keep the rum in our stock to share with others who simply want a good quality rum to enjoy rather than contemplate.
3.75 out of 5
Sipping Rum Scale
1 – An expensive mixer
2 – A quick celebratory shot
3 – Wouldn’t be embarrassed to share with friends
4 – Are my friends worthy of a sip
5 – Special moments rum
About Clint and Terry: We have sampled many a dram over our 33 years of marriage and quite often we don’t fully agree. Could be the difference is male/female taste buds. Or, somebody is just wrong.