Flor De Cana Centenario 18
Review: Flor de Caña Centenario 18 (92/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted January 7, 2016
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. Further persistence on my part has revealed however that the age profile of their rums has indeed changed. Coinciding with the bottle modernization was a new blending regimen. In the previous iteration of the Flor de Caña Centenario 18 Year Old Rum, the entire contents of the bottle were stated to be a minimum of 18 years old. The new bottling however, the Flor de Caña Centenario 18 is now blended to an average age of 18 years. It is a subtle, but meaningful difference which strongly implies that the brand is across the board is younger than it was before.
I decided that it would not be a bad idea to investigate the newest iteration, and I shall begin the review with a brand new bottle of Flor de Caña Centenario 18.
In 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 that this continues to a 18-year-old rum. Even though I have received information which clarifies the intent of the new label (that the rum is now bottled to an average age of 18 years) the truth is that nothing on the label reassures me that this will continue into the future.
If Flor de Caña intends to maintain the rum with an average age of 18 years, why not be up front about that intention on the label? It seems a small thing to ask.
In the Glass 9/10
When poured into the glencairn, the rum displays a reddish copper hue with dark undertones. It looks rich and inviting. When the glass is tilted and twirled I see a stubborn crest has formed at the top of the liquid sheen which drops slightly enlarged leglets which amble at a medium slow pace back down into the rum. The initial nose is filled with oodles of fine oak spice with muted scents of butterscotch melded into the spicy aroma.
As the glass sits deeper toffee aromas develop alongside a growing indication of dry grassy tobacco and orange peel. We catch glimmers of baking spices (nutmeg and hints of cinnamon and cloves) along with bits of brown sugar and vanilla . The fine oak spiciness continues to grow in the glass underlain with indications of almond and more grassy tobacco.
When the sampling session is over my empty glass smells of dusty grass and baking spices.
In the Mouth 56/60
This is a clean dry rum displaying a strong fine oak spice personality. This spicy personality is tempered slightly with mild indications of butterscotch accenting the oak spice. There is a lightly bitter flavour of poplar sap and tobacco keeping the mouth dry and heated. As I let the rum breathe the butterscotch sweetness grows slightly in intensity providing a nice foil for the dry spicy bitterness. I can taste a ribbon of orange peel and vanilla and a growing impression of marzipan. All in all this is quite lovely.
I decided to add a few cubes of ice and was surprised as a creamy lightly bitter milk chocolate flavour evolved alongside the fine oak spice and light butterscotch. As much as I enjoyed sipping the spirit neat, it was even more enjoyable with ice.
In the Throat 13.5/15
The finish is dry and clean with oak spice heating the palate and settling into the back of the throat. The rum is only lightly sweet and this causes the palate to feel slightly parched which of course induces a second sip, and then a third on so on.
The Afterburn 9/10
Although I have criticized the way the Flor de Cana rums have been labeled, I do not criticize the decision to make this particular brand just a little younger than it was before. This is because when I previously reviewed the Flor de Caña Centenario 18 Year Old Rum, I found the spirit had an overt oakiness that was somewhat distracting. The new iteration of the brand appears to have found a much better balancing point between the oak spice and the light butterscotch sweetness. There is just enough light butterscotch flavours present such that the oak does not overwhelm the rum.
I am impressed as my high score of 92/100 attests.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
The Flor de Caña Centenario 18 can and should be sipped neat or with ice. Having said that, there is no reason not to enjoy the spirit in wonderful cocktails as well. Here is a wonderful Winter Cocktail to enjoy with a fine aged rum.
1 3/4 oz Flor de Caña Centenario 18 Rum
1/8 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Orange Curacao
1/8 oz Lime Juice
1/16 oz of sugar syrup (1:1 ratio)
3 drops of Bitters (Fees Cocktail Bitters)
coil of orange peel
Fill a metal shaker 1/3 full of ice
Add all of the ingredients into the cocktail shaker
Shake and strain into a small rocks glass
Add a lump of ice and a coil of orange peel
If you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!
My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score 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)