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Flor de Caña Grand Reserve 7yr

Review: Flor de Caña Grand Reserve 7 Year – 87.5pts
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  4/5

The Flor de Cana 7-year-old rum comes in a rectangular shaped clear bottle with a solid plastic screw cap. The medium tall bottle is apparently designed to allow the company to ship bottles more efficiently by packing more volume into a rectangular shipping case. As well as being ergonomic, the bottle is also designed to be functional. It fits easily on the bartender’s shelf, and is easy to hold, and easy for that aforementioned bartender to pour making the rum quite accessible to the bar trade. The plastic cap is easy to open, and again the bartenders who want to pour drinks fast and furiously are kept happy.

I like the design but it does not have any ‘wow’ factor.  The labeling is professional; but I would personally prefer if the rum would stand out more on the shelf next to my other aged rums.

In the Glass 8.5/10

This spirit is dark and inviting.  It looks the way dark rum ought to look, with deep brown colours and flashes of copper. Swirling the glass reveals a glistening oiliness on the sides of the glass which vanishes quickly with only fast skinny legs appearing.

The aroma rising into the breezes from the glass is rich and complex.  Scents of caramel toffee accented by baking spices and vanilla reach my nostrils. I also detect freshly broken walnut shells, some darker fruit and chocolate rising into the air. The only deterrent is an astringency which I notice winding through the breezes. This seems to be a feature which has crept into the Flor de Cana bottlings recently. It is lightly harsh and does not seem to fit in with the rest of the rum profile.

In the Mouth  53/60

I like this rum! The flavour profile features hints of almond and hazelnut steeped with rich dark brown sugar and a nice sweep of vanilla. I taste some remnants of bourbon and some notes of chocolate and coffee deeper down.  There is a mild spiciness reminiscent of cinnamon, but it is melted into the brown sugar giving the palate a nice gentle toffee.  I like how the sweetness is not overdone, and only a touch of bitterness follows the nutty flavours and the chocolate.

As I said earlier when I was nosing the glass, the rum blend seems to have changed recently. I taste a few notes of dark treacle that I never noticed before, as well as a light harshness which seems to be connected with the oak. The rum, I guess seems younger and more brash than it was in the past. It is still very good, and despite my impression that the rums is perhaps harsher than before, I find that the fill line seems to be lowering at an alarming rate as each evening I am drawn to have another sip.

In the Throat 13/15

There is a mild burn associated with the exit and a vague sort of roughness as the rum goes down. I find the overall sensation pleasant as it seems to be a reminder that rum is meant for brigands and pirates rather than for Lords and Ladies. These rough sensations in the throat do not linger; they fade rather quickly leaving impressions of caramel and baking spices behind.

The Afterburn 9/10

Although I feel the rum has changed since I last reviewed it in 2010, it still exceeds the sum of its parts.  An ice-cube handles that bit of roughness quite easily and it is still a great rum to add  to any cocktail.  I consider this a premium rum which despite is lower price easily competes with other more expensive premium rums.

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


Suggested Cocktail

Flor de Cana Grand Reserve is one of the most versatile rums I know of.  I can easily sip it neat or with ice and enjoy myself thoroughly.  It tastes great in every traditional rum cocktail I have tried.  For my suggested Cocktail, I will give you the first cocktail that I designed specifically for this rum.  The Sloe Lime Daiquiri.

Sloe Lime Daiquiri

Sloe Lime Daiquiri

Sloe Lime Daiquiri
(a modern daiquiri style cocktail)
by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)

1 1/2 Ounce Dark Rum
1/2 Ounce Fresh Lime juice
1 Tsp simple syrup (Sub Grenadine)
4 Large Ice Cubes
1 Chilled Glencairn Glass
1/2 Ounce Sloe Gin

Place the first 4 Ingredients in a Metal Martini Shaker.
Shake Until Martini Shaker Chills.
Strain Into a chilled Glencairn Glass.
Add the Ice from the Martini Shaker.
Float the Sloe Gin on the top and let everything sit for one minute.
Garnish with Lime Slice if desired….. Enjoy!!


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)



12 Responses to “Flor de Caña Grand Reserve 7yr”

  1. Mathieu said

    Ive heard recently that its common practice to add caramel coloring to spirits.

    Seeing how this rum and so many like it are so dark i decided to email Flor de Cana.

    In the reply they assured me that the process was “all natural” but im skeptic.

    Is it even possible to have a rum this dark without additives given the age?

    Also, i know that many rums are aged differently but do you know if there is anywhere i could get a good idea of what rums of a certain age should look like?


    • Hi Mathieu

      Skepticism is healthy and terms like ‘all natural’ could mean a variety of things. However, it is difficult to answer your question with respect to what colour we should expect to see without knowing the specifics of the aging regimen for the particular spirit we are questioning. Spirits which have part of their blend aged in ex-sherry barrels will reflect a darker colour than those aged entirely in bourbon barrels. As well the age of the barrel used has an impact as the younger the oak barrel will impart more colour than and older barrel which has seen more use. Climate will play a role as well as tropically aged spirits tend to draw flavour and colour from oak much faster than spirits aged in cooler climes. In general I find aged rums have a much darker colour than aged whiskies, how much of that is due to factors listed above and how much is due to added colour is rather hard to decipher with any certainty.

      Based on all of the above, I obviously cannot say for certain what colour we should expect a 7 year old rum to display (it will vary depending upon those factors) or whether any caramel colour has added to the FDC 7 Year Old. I do find find it quite interesting that Flor de Cana’s 15 year old spirit is much paler in the glass than their 7 year old spirit.

      BTW: You are right that caramel is added to many spirits, it is probably a good assumption that unless the label tells you otherwise, you should assume the spirit may have been coloured by Caramel.

  2. Grant Mitton said

    Hi Chip, A friend of mine introduced me to Flor De Cana 7 year old, and, quite frankly Chip, it’s the rum i enjoy the most on every occasion. I’ve had some fine rums in my 71 years, and i enjoy other spirits as well, (Single Malts) but give me Flor De Cana 7 year old and I’m a happy man. Without question, a fine rum. Grant Mitton BC Canada.

  3. RP Bush said

    I took a trip to Nicaragua in December of 2011. I brought back 8 bottles of the 7 yr and I wish I had found a way to bring back more (they sold for ~$10 at grocery stores)! Absolutely fabulous to drink neat.

  4. Edmonton boy said

    Hey chip, been reading this blog for awhile now, and i gotta say i love it, you are a man after my own heart. I’ve just purchased a bottle of flor de cana 5 year, any thoughts on it? the 7 year is almost double the price at my store, and its already a treat for me, should i shell out for the 7 and make it a rarer treat?

    • I would go for the 7 or even the 12, but it is a matter of economics. I have only tried the 5 once, and although it is a fine rum, for me it did not reach into the stratosphere the way the 7 does.

  5. Jack said

    Hello. This is my first comment, though I have read many of your reviews, not only from your blog but from Ministry of Rum, another site I respect and have learned a great deal from. I enjoy learning about rum in general, and any rum out there. There’s so much to learn. Flor de Caña is a rum I am extremely curious about, hearing much of and think it is time to get a bottle. I mix Tiki drinks most of all, yet enjoy many other cocktails. Thanks for your insight. You may have single-handedly convinced me to get the 7 year as my first tasting. Or might you suggest I try the light version first?

  6. Hebegebe said

    Hi Chip,
    I would have to disagree with you on this one, the flavour of this rum kind of left me flat. I did not find it as flavorful as Lemon Hart and hardly began touching Matusalem’s quality or spectrum of taste.
    I just found this site, looks great, keep up the good work.

    • Thanks for the comment Hebegebe:

      You are not alone in your disagreement with my very high score here. My rum buddies Lucasz and Dennis both shake their heads at me and my love affair with the Flor de Cana 7. This was the very first rum I fell in love with and maybe that taints my scores a little. Then again every time I open a bottle of FDC 7, I don’t drink any other rums until its gone. So my love affair is still genuine.

  7. Thanks Rumdog,

    Nice recipe too!

  8. rumdog007 said

    Chip, it is such a bargain. I have seen it for +$20USD, but it frequently is sold for less than $15USD. Nice review! I find this rum in my gin and tonics on a regular basis. A gentle squeeze of lime (maybe, 1/4 ounce), a lime zest curl, 2 oz of FDC7, crushed ice, and a shot of soda. Heaven!

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