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Flor de Cana Centenario Gold 18 Year Old

Review: Flor De Cana Centenario Gold 18 Year Old Rum  85/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Updated October 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

I will admit a little bias here, and state for the record that I am not a fan of screw caps. The worst screw caps are those pressed metal ones which are so thin and flimsy that they cannot be tightened for fear of stripping the thread, and which expand and contract at a greater rate than the glass bottle they are protecting. The  better screw caps are the hard plastic ones which actually give a good seal comparable to a good cork. In the presentation of the Flor de Cana 18, we  have a good quality plastic cap. As for the bottle, it is a squat shaped vessel which carries the same design and label as the 12-year-old. Although things are nice, I find that for a true 18-year-old rum, I can’t help but wish for a nicer presentation.

In the Glass  9/10

The rum is rich and dark with red highlights in the glass. A quick tilt of my glass shows an army of moderately thick legs crawling down the sides back into the rum. The immediate nose is full of oak and baking spices, some zesty orange peel, vanilla, and dry fruit. The spicy oak makes the nose seem lightly harsh, and as the rum breathes, I begin to sense glimmers of toasted hazelnut and pecans wafting into the air. The oak builds bringing even more spice into the breezes above the glass.

The fully decanted glass is full of rich oak spice, dark brown sugars and dark caramel toffee. I seem to catch a hint of leathery smoke in the air as well. Nutmeg, allspice, and more hazelnut all seem mixed into the spicy caramel aroma.

In the Mouth  51/60

The 18 year old rum is surprisingly dry on my palate with a layer of cocoa under the dark caramel and spice. That leathery smoke I noticed on the nose is asserting itself, and I taste a strong oak presence. As I let the rum sit in my mouth, the oak becomes more dominant and to some degree begins to nibble away at the other rum and spice flavours rather than choosing to coexist. My instinct here is to suggest that the rum has spent too long in the oak barrel.  The balance of flavours has tipped into the oak with the other flavours vainly trying to hold their own.

In the Throat  12.5/15

Like other Flor de Cana rums I have previously reviewed, this rum is very clean on the exit.  I taste, a lot of walnut in the exit as well as dark caramel and oak spice. There is however, a certain oaky, leathery, smokey, dry bitterness that lingers, stealing  polish from the finish.

The Afterburn  8.5/10

The Flor de Cana 7-year-old and 12-year-old are two of my very favourite rums. Perhaps this causes me to judge the FDC 18 Year Old rather critically, but I feel that we have a rum that perhaps sat in the oak barrel for too long. The resulting spirit has lost some elegance and balance along the way. Do not mistake me, this is a very good rum which I would never hesitate to serve on a special occasions, but unlike its younger siblings its score does not reach into the stratosphere.

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


Suggested Cocktail:

For my cocktail I turned to a good friend, forrest, who has a wonderful site called “a drink with forrest“.  I gave him a few thoughts I had regarding Flor de Cana Centenario Gold and my wish to do a nice twist on a traditional cocktail called “The Godfather” which is a Scotch and Amaretto combination.  Forrest loved the idea,  and he sent me this offering:

Photo courtesy forrest

El Padrino (Spanish for Godfather)
(cocktail by Arctic Wolf & forrest)

(The name El Padrino fits perfectly with the mood and feeling I was trying to capture with my original suggestion as Flor de Cana Centenario Gold is truly a Godfather of Rums!)

2 oz       Flor de Cana 18
1 oz       Amaretto
1/8 oz  Fresh Lemon Juice

Build on Ice in Small Rock Glass
Garnish With a Thin Slice of Lemon

What can I say, forrest tweaked my idea and together we made a premium rum  cocktail that is simply divine.

Forrest has published a little write-up on the El Padrino with some nice  tips for mixing it to your particular palate.   Here is the Link:

forrest on the El Padrino


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)


16 Responses to “Flor de Cana Centenario Gold 18 Year Old”

  1. William H. Stahl said

    What happened to the Flor de Cana in the opaque blue container with gold lettering in a blue bag with a gold rope closer???

    • Hi William

      Unfortunately I have not seen that rum for sale for a few years now. 😦

      • JTG said

        Just came back from Nicaragua, and a couple of things to mention. They are selling 25 year old in the opaque blue container with a gold rope closer. The 12 year old I have is a much more squat bottle with a cork closer, so maybe they have improved that. I haven’t yet dug into the 25 year old, but I’m a fan of the 18.

        If you get a chance, try Don Papa out of the Philippines. A really, really good sipping rum – not made by Tanduay, so don’t be afraid.

        • JTG said

          I meant the 18 that I have, not the 12.

          • The entire Flor de Cana Line-up is being revamped as far as the bottle shape and the label is concerned. It sounds like you just found one of the new bottles. As for the 25, I might be receiving a sample when the rum arrives here in Alberta. Stay tuned…

  2. Emil said

    It’s really hard for me to comment about this rum since until recently my time has been spent with wines, especially the Cabernet Savignon that I love so much. But Cabs too have a woody element, the “bite” that Cab lovers enjoy, so this rum has some of the same woody elements. But I do have a question. Wines are normally scored using scales of 50 to 100, E to A, or the five star system. From bottom to top these are poor, below average, average, good, and excellent. For example an average wine would get a “C”, 3 stars or a score in the 70’s. How would you equate your scores to what we in the wine world are used to for these five categories?

    • Hi Emil and welcome to my website. Since I am unfamiliar with the five star system used for wines I will not attempt to superimpose that system upon mine or vica versa.

      My scoring system is explained in detail below the review.

  3. Jackmo said

    Enjoying this review as I sip on my own glass of the delicious 18 year rum. As a veteran of the 7 and 12 year Flor de Caña, I agree that this offering is a bit more dry and less pleasing somehow, but still a wonderful and highly enjoyable rum. I have spent many months in Nicaragua sampling their fine distilled products, and I have to say that the one I go back to most often is the 7 year Gran Reserva. For the money, it’s one of the very best on the market, never disappoints.

    • Tito Giron said

      Here,here. The 7 year Gran Reserva is definitely the best value. Recently in Nicaragua I found it on sale, 2 X 1 at about $7.50 for 1 liter. What a deal, bought a few! I also toured the factory, by appointment. Worth the trip. I bought a bottle of the 25 year old for about $140. A treat for a special ocassion that has yet to come. The expensive blue ceramic bottle was actually 15 year old and came out in the year 2000 to celebrate the millenium, Y2K! It was about $55, very good sipping in a brandy glass. For those that care, the export at duty free is 40% aclohol and the locally sold in country is 35%. This is for legal reasons related to taxes, etc…

  4. BCwineguy said

    I agree with review. I really enjoyed the Flor de Cana 12 yr and when I saw the 18yr for a great price at Duty Free I jumped on it and even bought two. BUT, it just didn’t have the depth of complexity I found in the 12yr. I too expected more from it after the 12yr was so good. Nice review.

  5. Dantaniel said

    I definitely agree with you about there being too much oak here. I find it strange that no one else shares our opinion on the ol’ interweb. Ignore the haters!

    • Thanks Dantaniel

      If you visit the rum forums around the net you will find many people who like us find this one a little oaky. And… yes, the haters are everywhere. Usually I figure if they spent their own money they on a rum or whisky, then they have a right to express an opinion, so I let most of the comments go through. Although like I said above, sometimes their comments are baffling at best.

      Cheers and Happy New Year!

  6. Dan said

    this may sound ridiculous but I just opened my bottle and I can’t get the rum to pour out. Am I doing something wrong? Any trick to opening this?


    • Hi Dan

      It sounds like the diffuser is giving you difficulty. Turning the bottle upside down before taking the cap off. That should loosen the diffuser ball.

  7. Clayton said

    If you have to snob a rum, snob a bad rum.
    Best rum I’ve ever tasted
    Maybe a Malibu would work better for you.

    • Hi Clayton

      I wouldn’t be much of a reviewer if I didn’t tell it the way I see it. But I’ll confess my bewilderment here. The rums scored well, and the cocktail forrest and I designed would only work for an well aged oaky rum with a lot of character. So I guess your snobbing comment is baffling at best.

      Oh well different strokes for different folks.

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