Ron Zacapa Centenario is considered by many to be the best rum in the world. With a Beverage Tasting Institute high score of 98, it is one of the highest ranking rums in the world. After winning the International Rum Festival’s top honor five years in a row, it was retired from competition and now serves as a benchmark by which other rums are judged.
Zacapa rum is produced in the mountainous region of Guatemala. Distilled from the first pressings of sugarcane, the rum is then aged using the Solera process at an altitude of a mile and a half above sea level. The Solera process has been used for centuries by wine makers to achieve a consistent product from year to year. How this system works is that barrels from one year are stacked upon barrels from the preceding year. At bottling time, a percentage of liquid is drawn off from the oldest barrels on the bottom. Then they are refilled from barrels one year newer, up to the top of the stack, where unaged rum is added. This allows the rum to be blended several times and aged in different types of barrels. Lastly, the oldest barrel in a 23 barrel stack will have rum far older than 23 years as the bottom barrels are never fully emptied. As a result of using this process, Ron Zacapa rum is actually a blend of rums from 6-23 years of age, blended for consistency. So lets get on to the rum!
Ron Zacapa pours a rich, coppery brown, with legs that cling to the glass. It has such a soft nose for such a well aged rum. There are no funky aromas, but instead gentle molasses, sweet honey and vanilla, with some slight citrus notes to round it out. The flavors are so deep and complex that I could actually just smell this rum forever, but it’s in the glass, so I best proceed.
This rum is super complex with tons of flavors going at it. The first sip is rich caramel, toasted nuts and very mild oak flavors. As it goes down your throat you get a taste of butterscotch, some spicy notes, and just a hint of coffee. Zacapa rum has a very light texture, which is interesting for a rum of its vintage. While I am a fan of it, some feel that this rum is far too sweet.
All in all, I would have to agree that this is perhaps the best rum in the world. While I have by no means tried all the rums out there, of all the widely available rums this is by far the best. Although it really is best served neat, I would also recommend this for some simple, understated cocktails where the rum takes the center focus. At under $50 a bottle, you should do yourself a favor and make this a rum to have. Your tastebuds will surely thank you. Cheers!