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Flor de Cana Centenario 21 Commemorative Edition

Review: Flor De Cana Centenario 21 Commemorative Edition   97.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
September 15, 2013

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.

The Flor De Cana Centenario 21 Commemorative Edition was produced as a special edition bottling near the turn of the century. The number 21 refers not to the age of the blend (which is 15 years), rather it is a nod to the 21st Century and the prestige which the Flor de Cana Rum Company had began to earn as a world-class producer of rum. When the rum was introduced at the turn of the century it created quite a splash winning accolades not only for the rum inside the bottle, but also for the stunning porcelain decanter which it was sold in. The rum is no longer widely available, and full sealed bottles have become collectors items in the rum world with pricing that ranges from $90.00 to $150.00 per bottle depending upon your locale. (My bottles cost $72.00 each when I purchased them in 2009.)

I recently decided it was time to open one of my bottles to see how a rum that knocked everyone’s socks off ten years ago rated today in the midst of the current explosion of premium rum brands.

SAM_0959 fdc 21In the Bottle  5/5

To the right is a picture of the sexy tear drop style bottle. The dark blue/purple bottle has always stood out on my rum shelf. Words like stunning, sexy and classy describe the decanter well. I would like to add another adjective, timeless. I say this because the bottle has an appearance that not only looks sexy and modern, it also recalls old style rum bottles with their wide base and narrow top which were used by ship captains to ensure the rum would not topple over as the rough seas bounced their sailing craft over the rolling waters.

Completing the look is a dark navy velvet-like bag which seals with golden coloured drawstrings. Each bottle is sealed with a Certificate of Authenticity, My certificate/seal is numbered 57453.

In the Glass 10/10

When I poured the rum into my glass I was delighted by the pale golden colour of the rum. So many aged spirits present themselves with the dark richness of caramel colouring. I do not have anything against caramel being used to enhance the visual appeal of rum or whisky; but there is something to be said for a bottling that retains the original colour the aging barrel bestowed. When I tilted my glass, I saw that despite the pale colour the spirit left a rather thickish sheen on the inside of my glass, and then dropped moderately fat drooplets of liquid back into the rum.

The initial nose brings forward a dominant triumvirate of oak sap, semisweet butterscotch, and spicy tobacco aromas. It is really quite nice especially how neither the sweetness of the butterscotch, nor the sharpness of the oak sap, nor the spiciness of the tobacco takes control of the breezes above the glass. Rather, each partner in this dance acts in concert with the others resulting in a melding of scents which smells quite delicious. As the glass sits, the rum reveals more as firm scents of almond and vanilla waft into the breezes followed by soft mushy banana smells and some spicy banana and orange peel.

A full twenty minutes after I poured my first glass of rum, I still had not sipped from my glencairn, as new scents and impressions kept me engaged. Hints of dry fall grass, tinges of licorice and anise, glimpses of spearmint and wisps of heather tantalize my senses. The aroma is deeply complex; yet it demonstrates an uncommon refinement.

In the Glass  58.5/60

In a word… Splendid!

That uncommon refinement I sensed in the glass translates very well to the palate. There is perhaps a touch more oak sap and dry tobacco spice than I expected; but these flavours are perfectly balanced by that wonderful semisweet butterscotch which serves to temper the spicy sharpness such that the rum slides easily across my palate towards my throat. As nice as the butterscotch and oak flavours are, it is the subtle nuances underneath which brings the rum to an entirely different level. There is a firm winding grassy flavour within the rum which is permeated by a strong vanilla and almond presence. I also taste light impressions of banana and orange peel, an ever so light winding flavour of menthol, a few glimpses of cinnamon spice, and vague impressions of willow and heather. All of these nuances act to accent the more dominant butterscotch and oak making this rum a multi-layered delight.

I am amazed by the subtle complexities the rum presents. Yet the balance is superb as each flavour impression seems to support another building a symphony of flavour with nary a single false note.

In the Throat 14/15

This is a light to medium bodied rum with a crisp smooth finish. The palate is left spiced by oak sap and sweetened by butterscotch. Both sensations seem to linger and increase in intensity after the rum is swallowed. And then just as each is about to vanish we notice fleeting glances of cinnamon and menthol which draw our hands to the glass so that we can experience the flavour sensations one more time.

The Afterburn 10/10

I was not sure what to expect when I opened my first bottle of the Flor de Cana Centenario 21 Commemorative Edition. As I mentioned earlier, this rum was introduced to the world about ten years ago to great acclaim; but because of its dwindling stocks, it has become more of a rum for collectors, than a rum for enthusiasts.

What I found inside the splendid decanter was not just a great rum; it is the new standard from which I will judge other spirits. The Flor de Cana Centenario 21 Commemorative Edition is a true classic, a rum for the ages!

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


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)


6 Responses to “Flor de Cana Centenario 21 Commemorative Edition”

  1. Frank said

    Thanks for your review. I got a bottle of this in Latin America years ago. It is almost done. Any idea where I could get another? It is top three of my 85 rums (next to Renegade Panama and R.Z. 25).

  2. Shawn said

    Hey Chip, I know you are good at your reviews. Infact you might be one of the best.

    But how the heck can you review a rum two years into the future? The date of this review is September 15,2013 🙂

    Love the site!

  3. I always liked this one…by the time I bought what may have been the last bottle in Co-op in 2010, it had appreciated to $90, and I think it is may even be better than the 18 year old. I still have over half of mine left, largely because I sip it so sparingly. It’s grown on me over the years, for sure.

    • I read your review after I wrote mine, and I noticed that you, like me, were completely enthralled by the aroma in the glass. Then there is that winding grassy undercurrent which kept bringing me something new every time I sipped it. Although I will also be sipping this one sparingly until the bottle is gone, I take consolation in the knowledge that I still have a second sealed bottle. 🙂

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