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Flor de Caña Centenario 12 (No Age Statement)

Review: Flor de Caña Centenario 12   (90/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted November 30, 2014

Flor de Caña has a history of rum production which is dated to 1890 at the San Antonio Sugar Mill, in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua. The company was founded by Francisco Alfredo Pellas and today, over 120 years later, the company is led headed by the fifth generation of the Pellas family. It has grown to be not only one of Central America’s leading brands of rum, it is also one of the most recognized rum brands in the world. According to the company website, all of the Flor de Caña rum is produced from molasses which is made from sugar cane harvested in fields adjacent to the distillery in Chichigalpa. This molasses is fermented and then distilled five times in a continuous column still. The resulting distillate is laid down to age in small American white oak barrels in traditional aging warehouses built without air conditioning in an undisturbed environment.

Recently, the entire Flor de Caña line-up has received a make-over with splashy new bottle designs. Part of this redesign was the elimination of a definitive age statement upon the new labels. Correspondence with the company indicates that the Company wanted to modernize the bottle presentation; but they maintain that no changes to the flavour profile of their rums has occurred.

I decided that it would not be a bad idea to investigate the new design with a brand new bottle of Flor de Caña Centenario 12.

fdc 12In the Bottle 4.5/5

I like the updated bottle design which looks fresh and seems to have more of a masculine charm than the older bottle design. The label is bold and original, and everything about the new bottle and label design speaks of confidence and class.

However, buried within that confidence, is a label which implies (but does not explicitly state) that this is a 12-year-old rum.

While it may be true that the rum within the new bottle is the same as the rum which was in the previous bottle which was labeled as 12 years old, one wonders if this will continue to be true in the future? Why deviate from a definitive age statement, if you are not planning on deviating from a definitively aged rum?

In the Glass 9/10

Two years ago (in my review here), I noted that I believed this FDC blended rum had changed somewhat since I had first reviewed it five years previous (when I scored it 97 points), and my current perception seems to be following on that same path once again. Just as when I revisited the rum in 2012, I seemed to notice a little more sharpness in the breezes than before when I poured out a sample of the newly labeled rum into my Glencairn glass. This time the sharpness seems to be associated with a bit of zesty orange peel which I do not remember from my previous reviews.

However, I also notice that this newer bottle of Flor de Caña Centenario 12 rum does indeed have the same overall aromatic profile as before. The breezes above the glass are once again enriched by firm scents of crushed walnut shells and pecans, some sticky sweet caramel, luscious baking spices (especially cinnamon, cloves, allspice and vanilla), bits of cola and chocolate, all supported by a persistent backdrop of oak and wood spice all of which is very inviting.

In the Mouth 54/60

As before, the aromatic sensations in the breezes translate well through the palate as the rum demonstrates both balance and complexity as I sip it. I taste a nice mixture of treacle and caramel, flavours of oak and wood spice, an underlying presence of pecans and walnuts, and a very nice mixture of baking spices (vanilla, hints of cinnamon and clove, and bits of allspice). That orange peel I noticed in the air above the glass seems to have moved to a flavour impression of orange marmalade, and if you search for them, there are ample flavours of dark chocolate, espresso coffee and even cola which permeate the rum.

The rum flavour profile is very similar to what I remember from previous visits when the older bottle was in use, and sipping the Flor De Cana 12 is quite pleasurable. Another, perhaps more guilty pleasure, is sampling the Flor de Caña Centenario 12 rum while nibbling on a piece bittersweet dark chocolate.

In the Throat 13.5/15

This is a medium to light bodied, column distilled rum, and the flavour within the rum does not linger upon the palate; rather the flavour impressions slide through the taste experience stopping for only a little while before they vanish down the throat. This makes the exit clean and crisp, although traces of chocolate and baking spices seem to last just a little longer than the spice and caramel. (My impressions in the throat are pretty much the same now as they were two and five years ago.)

The Afterburn (9/10)

If you have followed my website postings over the last five years, you will have noticed that this particular rum’s score has dropped twice now. First it dropped almost five points from my original published score of 97 points in my October 2009 review to be scored of 92.5 points in my November 2012 review. Now it has dropped another couple of points this year and has settled to a score of 90/100.

It might be that when I wrote my original review, I was too madly in love with the Flor de Caña brand. You see, this is the brand of rum which pulled me away from my singular relationship with whisky, and brought me into the world of exploring other spirits. Flor de Caña rums were the first rums I truly loved. However, it might also be that the heights of quality of that this rum had previously reached in my oldest reviews were real; however, they may have been difficult to maintain. As demand for the Flor de Caña rum brands have increased, the aged stocks of Flor de Caña rum may well have diminished faster than they could be replenished in an effort to meet that demand. This would make it very difficult for the company to maintain the rum’s previous height of glory with respect to taste and quality. This would also explain the sudden change with respect to labelled age statements.

Having said all of that, do not dismiss the Flor de Caña Centenario 12. It remains a great sipping rum (as my new score of 90/100 points testifies), especially paired with dark bittersweet chocolate!

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.

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You may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

 
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