Ron Abuelo Centuria
Industrial Rum – from a modern multi column still.
Hydrometer Test: 34% ABV @ 20°
* M S
I first encountered Ron Abuelo At RumFest 2015…I had a delightful chat and tasting experience at their stand following which, I ordered some bottles to enjoy at home. Included in that purchase was their top-of-the-range Centuria offering. The name is derived from the Latin word “Centum” meaning one hundred, in commemoration of 100 years of rum making. 3,000 bottles have been produced.
The rums in this blend have been aged in ex-Jack Daniels barrels for up to 30 years. So far so good! BUT, in a Solera system 😦
I do not have a big problem with Solera ageing provided there is no age statement and marketing BS regarding the product. To be fair… Centuria does not say it is all aged for 30 years!
But speaking personally, if I was a distiller or blender and had some rum that had been ageing for 30 years, I would be going crazy if it was mixed with some two or three year old rums for a new product – I am thinking would I add some young Appleton rums to their gorgeous 21yo rum…..? The answer is NO WAY! Furthermore, I would be going even more crazy if my 30yo rums had been tainted with lots of additives.
That is unless you believe the blending leads to a better version of your product than mere ageing alone, or that the base product is not flavourful enough, which presumably is what Abuelo think.
The problem here, is that I am making a rod for my own back now. If the rum is good quality and tastes great, it means I legitimately enjoy rum with additives, but if I do not, then my status as a lover of pure rums can be upheld. Does this mean my review is skewed from the start? I hope not…I want to be objective. The ONE single thing that would help me with this would be disclosure from the producer – something simple on the back of the bottle such as a list of ingredients…post-distillation addition of sugar, glycerine and vanilla for example would allow me to be far more honest and objective about this rum. But this is the problem…..there is no mention of it whatsoever!
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Industrial Rum” – from a modern multi column still.
I cannot find any official information documenting the types of still being used, but Abuelo do have an image of their still on their web page and it is a multi-column type.
The bottle is housed in a nice wooden box with an outer faux-leather covering. The bottle has a nice cork enclosure and an embossed medal depicting “Varela” – the family behind Abuelo. This is where the positive comments stop.
The bottle and box have no information regarding how the rum was made (type of still etc.) nor how much of the product has been aged for 30 years. Only that the oldest rums become part of their “Reserva de la Familia” and that they use the “traditional ‘Solera’ system” to “preserve the character of these precious reserves.” That sounds like a load of crap to me…there is nothing “traditional” about using a Solera system to age rum – Solera is something used in Sherry, Brandy and fortified wine. So all they are really saying is that we do not have an especially artisinal distillation method, so we hide behind marketing and Solera systems instead. Grrrrrrrrrr!
The first thing that stands out is the colour. Deep, deep, dark brown – mahogany. It’s almost ale-like colouring or maybe even a porter. When swirled around, there are very thick legs that take an eternity to slide down the edge of the glass. Is this proof of added glycerine?
The aromas are powerful…Licorice, wood, burnt caramel, fusel oil and spice. Further nosings reveal some vanilla and a lot of dryness, too, which is odd given the sweet profile.
Taste, Initial-middle 30/40
Initially, this is sweet and sticky. The sweetness reveals caramel flavours and some smoky wood. The stickiness conveys a smoothness in the rum…my problem is that I cannot guarantee that this smoothness is because it is a good rum. More than likely, it is because it is a decent rum that has lots of glycerine added to make it appear smooth.
Despite my concerns, it does taste pretty good at this stage.
Taste, Middle/Throat 39/40
The sticky profile continues throughout, but at this stage, it is more balanced by lots of dry wood and some mixed spices – nutmeg and cinnamon. For the first time, the rum develops a bit of fire, which is very welcome to offset the sweetness and at this point, the rum has a very good balance between sweet caramel and dry wood and smooth silk to rough fire. The spices continue to grow as you sip more, with some black pepper appearing as well as the first hint of some fruit with a little tart orange. This is the point where this tastes like a well-aged drop of tasty rum, elevated from the initial sweetness to a plethora of flavours.
There is a hint of a burn, but no more than just a hint. The added glycerine ensures the fire does not disturb your enjoyment of the drink. But the dry wood continues to impress and at this stage the spices combine nicely with the oak to produce a tasty combination. I do think at this point, the rum would benefit from being at a higher ABV – yes, you would lose some smoothness, but the rum’s flavours would be able to rise above the sweetness.
Morning After Aroma
Incredibly, this smells as if the glass was still full. There is the spice and caramel and plenty of lovely woody aromas remaining.
Words such as premium and sipping are often used to describe rums like this. Whilst I appreciate that there is an element of aged rum in this product, how much is actually 30 years old? 25%? 10%? Less? The fact is that it is called a 30yo rum, yet as little as 1% of it could actually be 30 years old so the age-reference is meaningless.
One has to wonder how it becomes so smooth as to be referred to as a “sipper.” We have no information about the wine used, nor the distillation process, merely the Solera ageing, which leads me to say it is smooth because of the additives.
Criticisms of the processes aside, if I ignore my own feelings on additives in rum and just enjoy the flavours, Centuria is a fine tot. Despite the sweet profile it does not feel sickly sweet, nor does the sweetness detract from the continually developing flavour profile – it is almost as if each time you take a sip, there is a different flavour popping up, which is fantastic.
But, this tastes and feels a bit more like a dessert than a rum. Certainly, it sits nicely as an after-dinner drink replacing the sweet part of your meal. Compared to many Solera-aged rums, this does taste like a “premium” tipple, but whether or not it justifies the price tag is another matter. I like the flavour and the drink, but hesitate to say it is proper rum. If the 30yo rum and processes used to create it are so good, why put additives into it? And furthermore, if you add something to it, TELL US ABOUT IT!!!
P Denotes the rum contains POT still distillate.
C Denotes the rum contains traditional/Coffey COLUMN still distillate.
B Denotes the rum contains a BLEND of POT and COLUMN still distillate.
M Denotes the rum contains MULTI-COLUMN still distillate or is a MODERN rum.
A Denotes the rum is an AGRICOLE i.e. from Cane Juice.
S Denotes the rum is presented in a SWEETENED style.
Bottle/Presentation Out of 3
Glass/Aroma Out of 10
Taste, Initial-middle Out of 40
Taste, Middle/Throat Out of 40
Afterburn Out of 7