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Stogie Spirits: Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 Rum

14 Jul 2010

When it comes to pairing my cigars with a spirit, I’ve always been more of a whiskey drinker with a tendency towards bourbons and scotch. But I find that rum is my preferred pairing in the summer heat, lately one rum in particular.

Zacapa23The Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 is made in Guatemala, where it is blended from rum made from concentrated first pressing sugar cane juice rather than molasses. The color is a dark mahogany, imparted from oak barrels previously used for bourbon, sherries, and Pedro Ximenez wines.

Zacapa is aged and blended based on the solera method, a system used regularly for fortified wine such as port and sherry. Under the solera system, barrels of the oldest rum are regularly mixed with newer rum but never bottled completely. The result is a spirit with a mix of 6- to 23-year-old rum.

With a quick swirl the Zacapa 23 shows off it’s long legs and releases a smooth and rich nose of toasted wood, molasses, fruit, and just a hint of spice. You’ll find that the words smooth and rich pop up a lot when describing this rum. It’s unavoidable.

The flavors are also (yes, you guessed it) rich and smooth. It has some serious sweetness up front but what really sets it apart is the complex mix of secondary flavors: vanilla, peaches, citrus, chocolate, bananas, figs, and cinnamon spice. The cornucopia of flavors maintains spectacular balance all the way through the finish, which lingers for 10 seconds before elegantly fading off.

This rum is plenty smooth enough to drink neat, although in the summer I prefer an ice cube or two. Don’t even think about wasting it with anything more than that.

Needless to say this is an excellent rum to enjoy with a good cigar. It could stand up to a spicy smoke like an Opus X, or just as easily pair up with a subtle smoke like a well-aged Paul Garmirian Gourmet Series.

Either way, this is a fantastic rum available at the incredibly reasonable price of around $40 a bottle. The only other rum in its class is the equally impressive Zaya Gran Reserva 12 Year, though you couldn’t go wrong with either one.

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate