Vizcaya VXOP Cask No. 21
Review: Vizcaya V.X.O.P. Cask No. 21 86.5/100
Review by Chip Dykstra (AKA the Rum Howler)
Published February 09, 2016
Vizcaya Rum is produced in the Dominican Republic for a third-party (the neck label says “Imported by Amex Spirits“) by the independent company Oliver and Oliver. Oliver and Oliver produce a variety of rum brands using distillate from various Caribbean producers which they age in their own warehouse facility. Many of these rums are produced using what is called a solero method which blends rums of various ages in single barrels and then continues to age them together to create consistent flavour profiles combining both the complexity of aged rums and the brashness of younger rums together in the aging barrel.
According to the Vizcaya website:
“Vizcaya VXOP is one of the world’s finest sipping rums. It is distilled in small batches according to time-honored rum making methods in which the fragrant juice extracted from pure sugar cane is fermented and aged in select oak barrels.”
Some sales outlets (such as the SAQ in Quebec) have taken the comment to mean that the Vizcaya VXOP is produced from distilled sugar cane syrup rather than from molasses. However, according to the Ministry of Rum, the spirit is “distilled from fermented molasses, and aged in used whisky and bourbon barrels”. Ed Hamilton who owns the Ministry is an ardent rum enthusiast and thorough researcher, thus I expect he is right about the spirit being produced from molasses rather than from cane juice. Especially, as this would be more consistent with the form of distillate available to Oliver and Oliver from which to produce their rum brands.
It is not clear from the rum bottle or from the Vizcaya website what age this rum is. The designation VXOP is (as far as I can determine) a designation meant to imply extra old age; however, designation appears to have has no contemporary definition pertaining to rum or any other spirit.
In the Bottle 4/5
This is the style of rum bottle which I normally give a very high score to (at least as far as presentation goes). It is an attractive decanter which looks very nice on my rum shelf. However the lack of meaningful information with respect to the proper age of the rum, how it is produced, and even what flavour profile we can expect leaves me wanting more. The ambiguity of the VXOP designation is at best confusing, and at worst misleading. Another problem I have pertains to the corkage. The first time I opened a bottle of the Vizcaya Cask 21 my cork broke immediately. The somewhat wider than normal mouth on the bottle meant that I could find not suitable cork in my spare drawer to re-seal the bottle. I ended up having to dump the contents into a different bottle which meant that the stunning decanter was pretty much meaningless to me at that point (at least as far as this rum was concerned).
My new bottle appears to have all of the problems my original bottle as the cork is lightweight and spongy. I think I will have to be very careful with it not to have a repeat performance of my first corked bottle. I guess I expect more in the presentation of what is touted as ‘one of the world’s finest sipping rums.’
In the Glass 9/10
Putting aside the problems with the labeling and presentation, the rum delivers once we get the liquid out of the bottle and into the glass. The rum has a nice copper tone in the glass, and when I tilt that glass and twirl it, I see a thick(ish) sheen of liquid on the inside. The crest of that sheen drops medium-sized leglets down which amble back into the rum at the bottom.
The initial nose is rich with caramel and maple scents accented by raisins and dates. Some orange peel and marmalade scents well up as do some luscious cinnamon bun smells (vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon. and roasted pecans). The only flaw in the aroma is a few underlying grassy notes and some alcohol astringency which each hint at a portion of younger rum used in the blend. Remember though, that I did use the term luscious earlier in the paragraph.
In the Mouth 52/60
Most of the promise of the nose is fulfilled when we sip the rum. The rum brings moderately sweet flavours of butterscotch and caramel forward with a complimentary oak spices adding just a little heat. Impressions of vanilla and cinnamon mix nicely with the butterscotch and oak, and underneath we taste a bit of almond and peanut brittle. Dampening my score a little is a relative ‘thinness’ within the body of the rum. It doesn’t have the weight in the mouth which one would expect based upon the rich flavour and aroma.
As far as mixing goes, the rum does not mix into my favourite cocktails easily. The Cuba Libre’ I mixed tasted too sweet and seemed more than a little like vanilla cola. This overt sweetness lessons the versatility of the spirit. I did however, come up with a nice cocktail using a touch of Amaretto for added flavour and a slice of lime within the cocktail to act as a foil against the sweetness of the main ingredient (see below).
In the Throat 13/15
The exit is medium-lengthed as the rich flavours of the rum disappear quickly upon the palate leaving a glow of oak spice and speckles of brown sugar and cinnamon behind.
The Afterburn 8.5/10
The Vizcaya V.X.O.P. Cask 21 is a rum which favours style over substance. It is a spirit which at first enthralls you with its lush aroma and sweetness; but upon close examination, the rum does not have the character and depth to completely match the promise of its suave style.
My score of 86.5/100 reflects a rum which is very good. It can be sipped neat, or over ice and mixed in short cocktails.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
2 oz aged Vizcaya Cask 21
1/8 oz Luxardo Amaretto
1/4 oz Orange Curacao
few drops Fee’s Cocktail Bitters
crushed ice (1/3)
ice cubes (2/3)
Add the first four ingredients into a metal cocktail shaker
Add both crushed ice and ice cubes
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with a slice of lime
Note: If you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!
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)