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Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 Year Old Rum

Review: Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 Year Old Rum (86/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted February 19, 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 led 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 five times 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.

The subject of this review, the Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 Year Old Rum is a clear aged rum meant for premium cocktails and mixed drinks. I was given a bottle for review by the local distributor, The Kirkwood Group.

In the Bottle 4/5

The Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 Year Old Rum arrives in a rectangular shaped clear bottle with a solid plastic screw cap. It is the same bottle and the same basic label design as the Flor de Caña 7-year-old. I like it, and I especially like how the label trumpets the age of the white rum. It is most unusual for a white rum to be aged for longer than one year and many are not aged at all. In fact there are perhaps only a handful of white rums in the world which have been aged as long as this rum has been.

In the Glass 8.5/10

I poured the rum into my glencairn glass and began with a good look at the spirit. As far as I can tell, it is clear without a smidgen of colour. I gave the glass a tilt and a slow swirl and then examined the clear sheen left on the sides of the glass. A few skinny legs formed and ran back down into the rum.

The initial scents rising into the breezes above the glass reminded me of a very light caramel molasses. I gave the glass a bit of a swirl, and this brought up a rush of astringency into the air, but once this initial astringency passed, I noticed some very nice complex aromas which included banana peel and butterscotch were left behind. There is also a vaguely minty sweetness in the air similar to fresh cotton candy and a deeper more earthy aroma which is hard to identify. I suspect this earthy aroma is a remnant of the oak aging leaving its ghostly footprint upon the rum.

In the Mouth 52/60

If you check the Flor de Caña website, they make it clear that the FDC Extra Dry 4 Year Old Rum is not meant for sipping. It is a mixing rum meant for premium cocktails and bar drinks, and after the first sip of the rum I am in full agreement. There is a lot of character in that initial first taste, but silky smooth, and suave are not descriptors I would use to describe the rum. Instead I would call the rum organic, and slightly pungent. It carries a lightly harsh sting or spiciness which swats at the palate. Notice though, that the first term I used to describe the rum was character. In fact my first sip of the rum reveals far more character than I usually find in white rum.

The flavours I taste include a soft muted caramel and molasses, and a dry fruitiness which carries a bit of an earthy flair with grassy flavours and toasted coconut lying underneath. The rum has a hint of candied sweetness, and a fair amount of banana peel spiciness. The oak from the 4 years of aging speaks softly under the rum but it grows over time bringing with it a touch of vanilla.

These things which I taste, I believe, are what makes this rum such a great cocktail rum. In fact, this rum is one of my most favoured mixing rums. It makes an outstanding Daiquiri, and a fantastic Cuba Libre‘. As well, the standard Mojito made with FDC Extra Dry is a treat to sip on even during my Canadian winter.

It is unusual for a white rum to perform this well in all of my standard rum cocktails; but the FDC Extra Dry 4 Year Old does this, seemingly with ease.

In the Throat 12.5/15

The rum has a sort of dry finish which puckers the palate and knocks at the tonsils a bit. But, as stated above, the isn’t meant to be consumed neat or even on the rocks. Those features which make the rum uncomfortable by itself, also make the rum very versatile and enjoyable when used as a cocktail mixer. Especially that dryness which seems to give the cocktails extra life in the glass.

The Afterburn 9/10

It’s time to bump things up just bit. The Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 Year Old Rum is such an outstanding mixer that I have to recognize this in my final score. So here in the ‘Afterburn’, I am going with a high score of 9/10 because the rum is more than the sum of its parts. I really like it, and I like how they haven’t tried to smooth out all of the rough spots.

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


Suggested Recipes

Lemon Muddled Cuba Libre’

1 1/2 oz Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 Year Old Rum
4 oz Coca Cola
Large Ice-cubes
Lemon slice

Place the lemon slice into a tall bar glass and muddle gently
Add Ice
Add the Flor de Caña Extra Dry
Fill with Cola

Stir and Enjoy!

Please remember to drink responsibly, the aim of my blog is to help you drink better spirits…not more spirits!


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)


4 Responses to “Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 Year Old Rum”

  1. Mike Kunetka said

    Thanks Chip, for another great review.
    Being a Cuba Libre fan, I am off to the store to get a bottle.
    One question though…
    You mention this is not a sipping rum.
    Are there any white rums you would classify as a sipper?
    With or without ice?

    • The El Dorado 3 Year Cask Aged white and the Newfoundlanders Rum are the two which I occaisionally sip, but to be honest both are far better as mixers. The Flor de Cana 12 year old dark rum… now that is a great sipper.

  2. The only white rum you need! I love Flor de Cana for its dry quality.

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