Ron Abuelo XV: Cask Finishes

Ron Abuelo XV:

Tawny Port, Oloroso Sherry & Napoleon Cognac Cask Finishes 

ABV 40%
£60 each

ABV Hydrometer Test: TAWNY: 28.6%, OLOROSO: 27%, COGNAC: 29.8%
* 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.

Created at Varela Hermanos in Panama, the most recent offering in the Abuelo (which translates to Grandfather) range, is a series of cask “finishes” of “15 year old rums.” This helps Abuelo to bridge the gap from their £30 12yo to the £125 Centuria.

The official marketing info states:

“We have selected our most treasured reserves, carefully aged in white American oak barrels, and in their final finish we have aged them up to 15 years in Sherry, Cognac and Porto casks. The name of each product has been deliberately chosen, each reflecting not only the wood character of the finish, but also the places that inspired us to create them: Oloroso for Jerez and Spain, Napoleon for Cognac and France and Tawny for Porto and Portugal.”

There is no information to confirm how much time these rums have been “finishing” for. The key words in the marketing are “up to 15 years” given that the rums from Abuelo are Solera aged, rendering the XV / 15 year old age statement as pretty meaningless because just one drop of the bottle could be aged 15 years…..but that is a different topic.

The rums are all produced from multi-column stills.

Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as uncategorisable due to the additives. When tested with my hydrometers, I found the following measurements:

  • TAWNY: 28.6% (implying around 39.5g / litre of added sugar)
  • OLOROSO: 27% (implying around 44g / litre of added sugar)
  • COGNAC: 29.8 (implying around 35g / litre of added sugar)

I will be reviewing all three rums together so each section will show three different marks.

Ron Abuelo: XV Cask Finishes
Ron Abuelo: XV Cask Finishes: Boxes & Bottles
Bottle/Presentation       TAWNY: 2/3, OLOROSO: 2/3, COGNAC: 2/3

All three are presented in beautiful boxes adorned with appropriate labels depicting which finish is contained within. The box has gold embossed detailing and information about the rum itself. The bottles are standard but the labels do add a look of premium value to the product. The info on the rums is limited, nothing about the stills, nor is there a mention of the Solera ageing nor the misleading “XV” age.

Glass/Aroma     TAWNY: 5/10, OLOROSO: 5/10, COGNAC: 7/10
Ron Abuelo: XV Tawny Cask Finish: Box & Bottle
Ron Abuelo: XV Tawny Cask Finish: Box & Bottle

TAWNY: Deep bronze, almost mahogany colour. The legs are thick and quick to drop down the sides of the glass. The aromas are dominated by sweet caramel. There is light citrus and nuttiness, notably coconut. There is a fruitiness to the aroma, too.

OLOROSO: Deep bronze, mahogany colour. The legs are thick and quick to drop down the sides of the glass. Sweetness dominates, notably honey. There is a hint of oakiness, too.

COGNAC: Medium amber colour. The legs are thick and quick to drop down the sides of the glass. Not as sweet as the others, but still caramel and burnt brown sugar dominate. A touch of citrus, dried oak and raisins are evident.

Taste, Initial-middle     TAWNY: 25/40, OLOROSO: 22/40, COGNAC: 32/40
Ron Abuelo: XV Oloroso Cask Finish: Box & Bottle
Ron Abuelo: XV Oloroso Cask Finish: Box & Bottle

TAWNY: Easy entry, slightly sweet and sticky. A touch of white pepper and honey are present alongside sweet summer fruit berries.

OLOROSO: Easy entry, slightly sweet and sticky. Caramel, honey, almonds and a touch of citrus peel.

COGNAC: Easy entry, slightly sweet and sticky. Burnt Demerara sugar, banana, cocoa and sweet nuts.




Taste, Middle/Throat       TAWNY: 26/40, OLOROSO: 18/40, COGNAC: 32/40
Ron Abuelo: XV Napoleon Cognac Cask Finish: Box & Bottle
Ron Abuelo: XV Napoleon Cognac Cask Finish: Box & Bottle

TAWNY: Dry oak and a hint of mild spice, followed by honey and tropical fruits. Very smooth, quite viscous, becomes drier with multiple tastings. Eventually develops a hint of fire towards the rear of the palate and a slight astringency.

OLOROSO: Very sticky and liqueur-like at this point. It is lightly peppered with a faint hint of a sweet Oloroso Sherry underneath with notes of raisins and almonds. But it does not actually taste like rum. Maybe the “finishing” cask was a little wet when the rum was added.

COGNAC: Comfortably, the most enjoyable part of all three rums is at this point. There is dried fruit and toasted oak alongside cocoa and rich summer fruits.

Afterburn       TAWNY: 4/7, OLOROSO: 5/7, COGNAC: 5/7

TAWNY: A light and dry finish that lingers. Further peppery spice develops after swallowing.

OLOROSO: There is a hint of a burn when some peppery spice develops. It has a medium to long finish.

COGNAC: There is enough of a burn to make this feel like rum. A touch of spice and oak linger producing a medium finish.


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TOTAL     TAWNY: 62/100, OLOROSO: 52/100, COGNAC: 78/100

These are quite tasty and VERY easy to drink. I especially appreciated the Cognac cask finish as adding something very appetising and enjoyable to the end product. Although light in style, there are a variety of interesting flavours to enjoy, albeit these will appeal to someone with a sweet tooth – maybe someone going from the sticky, sickly sweet world of spiced rum-based drinks towards real rum. Any fans of high ABV or what I would call traditional rums will be very disappointed with these. But the beauty of the rum world is that there are rums that appeal to lots of different palates and tastes.

For me, the Tawny and especially the Oloroso finishes just did not taste enough like rum and were way too sweet. I am wondering if the casks were not entirely empty when the rum was added to them. The Cognac cask finish stood out as easily being the most rum-like of the three and is a very enjoyable tipple. At £60 each, they are not great value in my opinion though.

But… this rum or a rum liqueur?

Certainly, if this was whisk(e)y or brandy-based, it would not be called whisk(e)y or brandy as there is lots of stuff added to the base product that changes it very significantly from its original state. Sugar aplenty, glycerine and wet casks are all likely. So does this mean they are still rums? Probably not, but that is the problem with rum and additives and the continued efforts to differentiate between types of rum. For anyone who questions whether or not rum would benefit from being recategorised, consider that this rum is currently classed as the same as Appleton 12yo or Foursquare Triptych i.e. they are all so-called “golden” rums.

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.

Marking Guide:
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

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