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Flor de Caña Centenario 12 Year

Review: Flor de Caña Centenario 12 YR Old Rum – 92.5pts
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted November 6, 2012

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 still 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 with molasses from sugar cane harvested in fields adjacent to the distillery in Chichigalpa. It is distilled in a continuous column still process, and then laid down to age in small American white oak barrels in traditional aging warehouses built without air conditioning in an undisturbed environment.

In the Bottle: (4.0/5)

The Flor de Caña Centenario 12 Year arrives in a clear, squat rum bottle with a plastic screw-top cap. What is good is that the bottle is distinctive, which serves to help me quickly recognize it on my rum shelf, and the labeling upon the bottle is clear and professional. The colours work, and the fonts work such that everything is easy to see and read. I like the overall look, but I do wish for a nice cork instead of the screw cap.

In the Glass 9/10

I am not sure whether the blend has changed slightly in the past three years or whether my standards have increased a little. But I notice just a little sharpness in the breezes above my glass after I pour it, that I do not remember from my previous visits to the bottle. In those breezes are lovely scents of walnut shells and pecans, sticky sweet caramel and honey, rich baking spices (especially cinnamon, cloves, allspice and vanilla), and a nice firm but mellow oakiness which is quite lovely.

I receive a distinct impression of richness with nice accents of chocolate caramel, light dabs of cola and a moderately spicy tobacco which drifts upwards to add character to the overall aroma. I really like the impact the aroma has upon my senses, but that light sharpness in the breezes is keeping the score just a little lower than it was before.

In the Mouth 57/60

The nose translates very well to the palate, in a rum which to me demonstrates outstanding balance and complexity. All the impressions I noticed in the air around my glass leave their flavour imprints within the rum. Dark caramel, spicy toffee, impressions of walnuts, vanilla, touches of cinnamon and cloves, some dabs of allspice, orange marmalade, chocolate, and some moderately spicy  tobacco all swim together in the currents of flavour harmoniously (much to my delight).

There is a certain suave character evident which is very appealing, and I almost always pour a second glass whenever I bring this rum down from my shelf.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The rum is a light bodied, column distilled rum, which means the flavours and impressions do not cling to the palate, rather they slide rather easily through the taste experience lingering 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 linger just a little longer than the other flavours.

The Afterburn (9.5/10)

The Flor de Caña 12 Year old Rum is absolutely a delight. However, if you have followed my website postings over the last three years, you will have noticed that this rum’s score has dropped a notch or two from my original published score of 97 points (Published October 2009). I think that when I wrote my original review, I was perhaps 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.

I have more perspective now, and my current score is probably much more reflective of the true quality of this rum. Having said that, I must admit, that now that this 12 year Old Rum bottle is open, it will be my rum partner until the wonderful contents are gone. My score might be diminished, but I am still in love with Flor de Caña rum.

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


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)


23 Responses to “Flor de Caña Centenario 12 Year”

  1. jeff schutz said

    Great Blog! My brother in law was visiting friends in Nicaragua and knowing my love for rum brought me home a bottle of the 12 year. What a great rum. i agree with your scoring one of the best rums i have had

  2. françois said

    so that’s what it is, thanx. soon, on wine bottles??!

    • Murray said

      I have recently purchased a bottle of this fine rum (in Panama), I too had a real problem with the “diffuser”, when I tried to pour it out, it only dribbled a small amount and then stopped, I tried shaking the bottle, I was even patient and tried turning the bottle upside down several times, it did not work, I finally broke the plastic thing out of there.
      When I was finally able to try a taste, it was great. Was it worth the frustration? time will tell, but for now it was quite enjoyable and I would like to see if it is available at home in Canada.

      • Clyde said

        Hi – I just picked up a bottle of this in Calgary – so it should be available elsewhere in Canada. Cheers!

  3. François said

    Thanx a lot for your answer, AW. well the mouth of the bottle is not simply open, because there is a kind of transparent plastic contraption over it… I can send a picture of it. I guess it prevent the liquid to be poured too quickly… please do you have any idea??!

    • Hi Francois

      The plastic contraption you are describing is, I believe, a diffuser. These are placed in the spouts of bottles to prevent an empty bottle from being refilled with an inferior spirit (usually in crappy bars) and then re-sold as the premium product.

      Sometimes (particularly with a sweet spirit) the ball valve inside the contraption becomes stuck. Personally I have never had a problem with a Flor de Cana bottle, but I have experienced this annoying problem with other spirits. Hold your bottle upside down for a few moments and shake it gently before you open it. That might help.

  4. françois said

    Hi! This rum is great, fantastic value for the price, but i have a problem: i am European and not familiar with the cap. it was a pain to open, and it is a pain to pour the liquid… arrggg! is it normal? thanx! fantastic blog btw

  5. Doug Ford said

    Hi, Chip,

    This one has been on my “I oughta try that” list for a long time; your review has me thinking I’ll pop out for a bottle as soon as the stores open. Thanks for the nudge!

    • Hi Doug

      The FDC 12 is a great rum. One of those bottles that once it is opened you just want to keep returning to it night after night. It is not too sweet like so many of the luxury rums are, neither is it heavy or thick. A light to medium bodied column rum that just plain tastes great!

  6. russ said

    hi.a little story…went to the rum crawl in key west and was introduced to ron fortuna when they introduced it in one of the bar stops. hold on.something with this character and complexity and lushness of taste for under $20! introduced myself to the lovely young latin lady promoting it and later she came up to me at the days end,and gave me a bottle. up to then 5yr plantation bayjan was my go to under $20.on par with diplo,eldo12 or15, or many others way dearer.brought back a case,and all the boat drink guys here are unanimous in agreement..i enjoy flor 12 but find the 18 very rough. happy trails my friend russ

  7. Mike B said

    I love this rum, but it is no longer available in Ontario, Canada. Last year it was shown as being discontinued in the LCBO, so I scrambled and purchased 5-6 bottles. I see that it is still available in other places around the globe however. At first I suspected it was not produced every year but now I can’t even find the Flor De Cana 7 y.o., only the 5y.o. which doesn’t come any where close to either the 7 or 12 y.o. rum. Any ideas as to the lack of availability in the region. Now I’m on the look out for another suitable replacement. Not big on the spice rum anymore. Planning on trying Dictador 12 y.o. to see how it compares.

    If you know of any other rums that are similar I would love a point in the right direction.

  8. Shawn L said

    Hi Chip, Can you do another review on this rum? I seen your high score so I tried a bottle and did not find the taste scores you did, and then i noticed your review was 3 years ago so maybe something changed or it is just not my style? Cheers,

    • Hi Shawn

      I have already written the new review, for this rum and for the 7 year Old FDC. The newer review should publish in a few weeks. (I did notice some changes in style with respect to the newer bottlings.)

      • speedtek said

        Certainly interested in seeing your updated review, I just bought a bottle based on your old review and I am finding it to be quite a smooth rum.
        Love it…..especially considering the price point compared to some of my other faves (Diplomatico Exclusiva and Zacapa)

  9. Jesper said

    Hi Chip
    Just want to say thank you very much for this great blog.

    I have only just gotten into really tasting spirits, having in my distant youth, before I began liking beer, mostly seen spirits as something to mix with soda in order to get drunk 🙂

    Today older, and hopefully wiser, I recently tasted the Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva at a friends house, and was overwhelmed at how great an experience just enjoying a fine spirit could be. Searching for a review of the Diplomático I stumbled upon your site and have been reading around here frequently ever since. Based on your reviews I have tried to purchase a couple of spirits which, although rated very highly, are still pretty affordable with regards to starting a small collection – the Highland Park 12, the Plantation Guatemala Gran Anejo and the Flor de Cana Centenario 12yr.

    While I am very much a beginner when it comes to tasting spirits, I can certainly tell that this stuff is much much better than what I used to mix in my drinks 10 years ago. The Highland Park is easily the best whiskey I have ever tasted, and I found it very rewarding looking up your review while sipping it, trying to identify the things you mention.

    I just tasted the Flor de Cana Centenario yesterday, and while I also enjoy it very much, I can’t quite agree with it, according to your scores, being all the way up there with the Diplomático. While the smell and the taste are just great (I could seriously just nose the glass for hours without even sipping it), I get a somewhat unpleasant sharpness in the throat which I don’t get with either the Diplomático or the Highland Park, which gives me bad memories of the cheap stuff I used to drown in soda.

    I have yet to taste the Plantation Guatemala Gran Anejo, but will be trying it sometime soon with a friend in a tasting session together with four other rums (including the here mentioned ones). Based on your review, I am looking forward to trying it and comparing to the others.

    Anyway, enough rambling – again thank you very much for all your reviews 🙂

    Jesper from Denmark

    • Thanks for the kind remarks Jesper

      And its perfectly okay that you like the FDC 12 a little less than I do. My friends that I taste with agree with you. I will remark though that the sharpness you taste is probably the same oak spice which I love. (Sometimes oak can seem a little sharp.)


      • Jesper said

        Thanks Chip
        It is actually better now I have tasted it again – perhaps the oak spice just takes a little getting used to 🙂

        By the way, the Flor de Caña actually does come in a cardboard box to protect it from the light here in Denmark (or rather Germany where I bought it).

  10. Paul said

    Hi. Just picked this up in :Managua when there on business. Have it here at home and am enjoying it. I also have a bottle of F de C 18 year and a bottle of Guatemalan 23 year. Those older rums definately have the 12 year beat on caramel, chocolate, and sweet. I like the livliness of this 12 year, however. More alcohol than the 18 year by 5% and a lighter nose which gives more light caramel and toffee vs. dark caramel and chocolate/smokiness of the 18 year. Nuts for sure as you mentioned and I like the description of french toast above. Overall, I am not sure I would rate it as high as you did, but it is thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless. Thanks for the time put into your review.


  11. jfpilon said

    nice rum indeed. To me it madake me think of new england french toast: table syrup, ornage peel, cinnamon, powdered sugar, cream and bread. very nice. But the speed at which the tastes disapeared made me linger for more…

  12. Mike said

    Can’t wait to try this one, as it has recently become available in Ontario. I bought Flor de Cana 7 the other year and quite enjoyed it on ice. Should be a nice drink for the summer.

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