Abuelo Añejo 12 Años Gran Reserva (40%, Panama)

We have already tried the Reserva Especial (Añejo) and the Reserva Superior (7yo), and I have to say, they didn’t lie bout them. The 7yo is most definitely superior to the Añejo (which is a NASser). Both are clear examples of the Panamanian Rum style, the first young and light, the second a lot more aromatic and letting the wood shine through. Not bad. Let’s see if the 12yo, called Gran Reserva is even better than the 7yo…

Abuelo 12Color: Orange brown.

Nose: Spicy and deep. Even more dry and dusty than the Añejo. Hot, almost burning wood. Nice deep fruity acidity. Pineapple. Nice touch of orange and a tiny hint of solvent. Nice wood and sawdust. Winey and PX-Sherry. Caramel. Waxed dark chocolate sprinkles. Less vibrant and sweet than the Añejo.

Taste: Thick and syrupy. Ahorn syrup. A little bit sweeter than the 7yo, but still not much. There is some wood spice in here, which is left behind in the finish. Quite warming. Alas this 12yo also has a fault. It has this (rotting) fruity aroma and acidity and this syrupy sweetness, but those two don’t match! One is on top of the other, and they are never completely integrated. The acidity has more staying power than the sweetness, which is also a bit strange. This is where this Rum goes slightly wrong. Next up the wood. That is the third dimension that isn’t properly integrated. It’s like a succesful band of which the members can’s stand each other. Beatles White album maybe? However, for me Abuelo isn’t The Beatles, but more The Moody Blues. Beautiful music, maybe, but also a bit boring. In this case, the Moody Blues don’t like each other very much.

As the age rises, there is more of everything, more aroma, more consistency, more color (maybe E150?) and more wood, but is it also better? Not for me.

Now that we have tried the three Rums that make up the standard range we can conclude that the Añejo is the simple and light one, meant for mixing. The 7yo is also quite light, but is suitable for sipping. Also the 7yo is the best balanced of the three. The 12yo is the sipper, at least, its meant to be the sipper. The 12yo is alas a bit unbalanced, but shows a lot of promise. I hope for a better balanced blend in the near future.

Points: 81

Zacapa Centenario Solera Gran Reserva 23 (40%, Guatemala)

If memory serves me correctly, last year we had a pretty good summer. Alas summer is long gone, and to celebrate it, I had some Rum. At least there was some sunshine in my glass, so to speak.

Zacapa Centenario Solera Gran Reserva 23Zacapa is a very well-known Guatemalan brand, owned by Diageo. The Rum itself is made with the Solera system wherein the Rums are between 6 and 23 years old, hence the number 23 in the name. 23 is not an age statement, and although Rums are not that much regulated yet as Whisky, Diageo was carefull enough not to call this Rum 23yo. The Rum is made with first crush virgin sugar cane honey and was aged in American Whiskey barrels and (PX) Sherry casks.

Color: Dark reddish copper

Nose: Very floral, nice wood with a lot of depth. Some acidic winey and red fruit notes. Very appetizing nose. Vegetal and woody. Gravy. Overall, the rum comes across as fresh and lively and even sophisticated. Luckily no cloying sweetness in the nose. Small hint of wrapping paper and dried meat. Good wood.

Taste: Thinner and not as sweet as I remember it from a while back. Sweetish, with vanilla and some red fruits. Definitely has some PX-sherry influence. Very easy drinking rum, but for my tastes a bit thin and, dare I say it, simple. Some burnt Sugar stays on the tongue, but after that the whole experience is rather quickly gone. Funky acidity stays on too long and doesn’t match with the wood in the finish.

This Rum has no real flaws and it sells quite well. It’s a nice sipping middle of the road Rum.

Points: 80

Matusalem Gran Reserva Solera 15 (40%, Dominican Republic)

Matusalem was founded in 1872 in Cuba by the Spanish Brothers Benjamin and Eduardo Camp. They especially went to cuba to distill Rum. Being Spanish they knew about the Solera-system often used to make Sherry and Brandy, so they incorporated that into the way they wanted to make Rum. In 1912 Benjamin returned to Spain but Eduardo stayed behind to run the company by himself, or did he? The Camp brothers had a partner in Evaristo Alvarez, so it was with him that Eduardo continued the Company. Funny enough in the end Eduardo’s son Claudio Alvarez LeFebre, married Evaristo’s daughter, making it a real family business! Their son Claudio Alvarez Soriano was the next in line to take over the business.

Matusalem Gran Reserva 15 SoleraIn 1959 the Cuban Revolution took place and the family moved their business to the U.S. of A. and the cuban’s turned the facility the family had to leave behind into the production facility of Ron Santiago. As with many families, when a lot of offspring shows up in a business where most of them don’t belong and are in it only for financial gain, they run it into the ground. The great-grandson of Eduardo, Claudio Alvarez Salazar took over the business in 1995 after a settlement with the rest of the family and moved the production to the Dominican Republic.

Color: Dark gold.

Nose: Light and lightly sugary sweet. Floral notes and lightly fruity too. Hint of perfumy wood, jasmine and some vanilla. Acidic red currants and some sugar. Tiny hint of toasted wood.

Taste: Light, very light, with a floral and woody touch. Passes quickly through the mouth in which the woody bitterness and a burnt note are the most obvious. Very thin in texture and actually in taste too. Not all is working well together in the taste here. Short and not the best of finishes.

It’s Obvious the Alvarez family is proud, not of their Spanish heritage, but of their Cuban one. So for a rum that is made in the Dominican Republic, the label states quite proudly that the Rum is from Cuban origin, and for me fits right in into the Cuban style but isn’t the best expression from that style.

Points: 75