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Juan Santos 12 Year

Review: Juan Santos 12 Year Gran Reserva Rum  89/100
A review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on November 17, 2009 (Revised November 20, 2012)

Juan Santos 12 Year Gran Reserva Rum is produced by Casa Santana, a rum company born in Columbia in 1994. On the Casa Santana website (no longer active) the stated goal of the company is to produce the finest rum in Columbia. The Juan Santos 12-year-old rum brings an increased level of smoothness and depth to the rum glass, and it was truly a pleasure to review the sample which was provided for me by the rum’s Canadian importer, The Liber group.

Juan santos 12 year OldIn the Bottle 4/5

Although there is not anything specifically wrong with the bottle presentation of the Juan Santas 12 Year Old Rum, I do believe the label could have substantial more ‘pop’. It seems to be a label which could easily have been designed and printed on a home computer, rather than done professionally. It lacks graphical impact, and seems to cheapen the overall look of the rum.

In the Glass 8.5/10

The rum has also become noticeably darker than its younger siblings and displays nice coppery highlights when held up to examine. The initial aroma is mild toffee and nuts, with hotter rye-like spices rising which remind me of Canadian Whisky. As the rum decants, the toffee and caramel deepens and nice baking spices evolve with some tobacco and marzipan.

In the Mouth 54/60

The Juan Santos rums are soft and buttery in the mouth, and the 12 year old is no different. The flavours from the rum seem to almost feel like they melt upon the tongue. There is a bit of hot zest on the front of the delivery, but individual flavours are indistinct and my only reference point is to ask you to imagine a smooth Canadian rye whisky merging with a soft caramel rum. The rum flavour dominates, but other than dark caramel, toffee and vague dashes of cinnamon I cannot describe anything in particular. The flavour impression is very unique.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The rum has a long buttery smooth finish. There is a only a faint burn in the throat. The harshness apparent in the finish of the five year old rum is gone completely. We no longer have a rum for pirate ships, this is a rum the pirate chief has hidden away to savour when he cashes in his booty.

The Afterburn 9/10

What a marvelous rum. Smooth in character and long in finish. Each Juan Santos rum has brought a higher level of balance and smoothness to the palate. The flavours melt and mingle together making them a treat to sip, but also easy to mix into exotic cocktails.

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


Suggested Cocktail:

In keeping with the whisky like feel to this rum I decided to do a take on the old Whiskey Sour Cocktail:

Arctic Wolf’s Juan Santos Sloe and Sour:

2 oz of Juan Santos Rum
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
Dash of simple syrup or Grenadine
Crushed ice
1 Tablespoon of Sloe Gin

Add the Juan Santos Rum, the lemon and lime Juice, and the syrup or grenadine with the crushed ice in a Martini Shaker. Shake gently to chill the mixture. Pour the mixed ingredients into a glencairn glass adding the ice. Float the sloe gin on top and serve. 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)


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