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Rum Nation Panama 18 Years

Review: Rum Nation Panama 18 Years   89/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Revised November, 2017

Rum Nation is an Italian rum company created by Fabio Rossi, who began his life in the spirits trade as a Oenologist (one who has studied winemaking). After his studies, Mr. Rossi left the wine business and started up a whisky company in Edinburgh (Wilson and Morgan) acting as an independent bottler of Single Malt Scotch Whisky. His interest turned to rum and in 1999 Fabio Rossi founded Rum Nation. His company is headquartered in Italy; but Fabio purchases select rums from various distillers in the Caribbean and the Americas. As a result Rum Nation provides a rather unique assortment of rare limited edition rum bottlings.

One such bottling is Rum Nation Panama 18 Year Old.

Panamanian rum from the Valera Hermanos Distillery has been bottled by Rum Nation since 1999. The 18-year-old rum from Panama is acquired in bulk from Valera Hermanos and shipped overseas to Italy for labeling and bottling. After the successful introduction of this bottling 17 years ago, the company has continued to purchase bulk rum from Panama with an annual production of roughly 6,000 bottles per year.

SAM_0623 Panama 18In the Bottle 4/5

The presentation for the Rum Nation Panama 18 Year Old is pictured to the left. It is a standard bar-room style of bottle which arrives in a cardboard box with a windowed opening. Unfortunately the window on the box only displays the basic label information and not the Age Statement which is higher up on the neck of the bottle. In a retail setting a consumer may not even know that this is anything more than a standard rum based upon what you see when the rum is in the box. Another minor quibble I have is that the information regarding the year of release is printed in a very small font, and again this information is hidden when the rum is in its display box. As a collector, I like the information which identifies one release from another to be very easy to find.

I feel that this 18-year-old edition of Panamanian rum deserves a  little better effort put into the box and label.

In the Glass  8.5/10

When I pour a bit of the rum into my glass, I notice that it has a nice copper colour with flashes of orange and red. The initial scent rising from the glass is full of butterscotch, cinnamon and cloves. A zesty wood spice arises as well giving the aroma a touch of brashness. As the glass breathes, I notice some brown sugar, vanilla, baking spices and roasted pecans all wandering through the breezes giving me a impressions of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls. Some orange peel in the breezes, and a little dark tobacco keep the aroma spicy and interesting.

In the Mouth 54/60

The rum leads out with flavours of caramel, vanilla and rough oak. The oak flavours are spicy, and I taste white pepper, cinnamon and cloves all wandering through the flavour currents of the rum. There are some dry flavours of orange zest, and something lightly bitter with a flavour element which is similar to what you would taste when you pop a fresh wood chip in you mouth. Bits of cocoa are hidden within as well as flavour impressions of both fresh (apricots and peaches) and dry fruit (dates).

As the glass breathes, the rum becomes richer and fuller. The caramel becomes toffee-like as it melds with the spicy oak. Sweet brown sugars mix with the orange zest turning it to marmalade. The bits of cocoa have become sweeter and almost fudgey.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The rum has a full flavoured finish with lots of oak spice and yummy butterscotch. Although the mouth is slightly puckered after swallowing from the light bitterness within, the ebbing sweetness of butterscotch and the rough oak spice make pouring another glass almost mandatory.

The Afterburn 9/10

For me, this rum has a lot going for it! There is both a beguiling sweetness and a complementary bitterness working in unison to give you a flavourful brashness that is very appealing. I have scored the rum well, and my only quibble is that it deserves a better bottle label and box!

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


Each review contains a rating or score out of 100 and these scores can be interpreted using the following scale:

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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