Ron Zacapa Centenario
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from Internet Wines and Spirits
Ron Zacapa Centenario is a legend amongst rums. According to many sources, it’s won so many tasting competitions that it’s actually been retired as a contender, and is instead used by the judges to calibrate their palettes as to what a truly fine aged rum can achieve. With such a lofty reputation, I was quite excited to finally try a bottle.
Centenario stands out on the shelves. The bottle is entirely wrapped in palm leaves – intriguing, but it does conceal the rum within. Upon opening the bottle, I was disappointed to note it was a plastic screwcap. And even worse, it had a non-removable plastic diffuser that one may expect from mixers, but certainly not from a 23 year aged rum with such a sterling reputation. (new bottles of Centenario seem to have a new, more sophisticated packaging.)
In the glass, Centenario has a brilliant red-amber color that’s both rich and inviting. To the nose it smells surprisingly like cream soda, but little else. Upon tasting Centenario – especially in light of the pedestal upon which it’s been placed by so many connoisseurs – I was perplexed. Ron Zacapa is sweet, and leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste of nuts. Its body is moderate and unremarkable across the tongue. Actually, not much seems to be going on here. Centenario embodies very little of what I’ve come to expect from rum – be it top shelf, daily consumption, or rot gut. In fact, it just doesn’t taste much like rum at all. More like a liqueur, it seems like it should be mixed with coffee or high-end cocktails, but not consumed straight from a snifter or scotch glass.
Ron Zacapa Centenario is not a bad product by any means, but it hardly represents what I’ve come to expect from fine rum. It has much more in common with Frangelica, Amaretto, and other “liquid candy” liqueurs than it does with true rum. I’ve read that Centenario represents the pinnacle towards which all other rums should strive – I hope this isn’t the case, as I’m much happier with most other rums staying right where they are.