Uncategorisable: Due to the additives and un-named distillery.
ABV Hydrometer Test: 27% ABV @ 20°
* M S
Ask someone to name a rum producing country and it might be some time before Costa Rica gets a mention. Ask someone to name a rum brand and it will be even longer before they mention Ron Centenario.
Centenario Internacional was formed in the 1970’s and in 1985, they started producing a cane based spirit. Despite this young history, the Edicion Limitada 30 has rums as old as 30 years in the blend. By comparison, Appleton Estate, founded in 1749 took until 2009 (260 years) to produce its first 30 year old rum. And with that statement, the comparisons between the two brands and products comes to a complete halt.
The reason I say this is that Centenario uses a Solera system, meaning that although some of the liquid in the blend is 30 years old, it could be as little as one drop per bottle. Every drop of a bottle of Appleton Estate: 30 Year Old is at least 30 years old, yet both of these are described in many circles as being 30 years old. Is this bad labelling? Marketing? Deception? It certainly highlights that numbers on bottles are often meaningless and the consumer needs to be wary and look beyond the numbers to what liquid is actually in the bottle, prior to parting with their hard-earned cash. Although to be fair, on the Centenario bottle, it does not say 30 years old. But leaving a big 30, front-row, centre on a bottle is there for one reason only – to make you believe that it is 30 years old. Sounds like a Guatemalan brand that removed “23 años” from it’s bottle and now just says “23.”
Caveat emptor as they say!
The terroir of Costa Rica is said to contribute to Centenario’s creation. Their official info cites the volcanic terrain, unique climate, geographical location between two oceans and types of sugar cane grown as influencing the end product. I would be prepared to believe all of this if it was an agricultural rum where terroir is so important and I might even believe it, if the distillery was known and types of still highlighted. But, for me, I just smell marketing bullsh*t here.
The rum in this blend comes from a multi column distillate and is actually a blend of rums aged in American white oak ex-whiskey barrels for between eight and 30 years. It is described as “limited” although there is no official info regarding what the actual outturn is. The brand is now owned by UDG, a Panamanian-based organisation, and is distributed in the UK by Halewood, which accounts for why it is popping up more and more in online shops for us Brits. It also accounts for why you never see or read anything about the actual distillation process, but the bottles are adorned with tons of medals from those “everyone gets a medal if they enter” rum tasting events that brands pay to enter each year. In reality, no serious rum drinker considers most of them to have any worth whatsoever. In fact, when I see a bottle full of these medals, it usually implies the product is not that great as they have had to pay to “win” a medal for the bottle.
But I digress……….
Ron Centenario Edicion Limitada 30 would be a Modern Rum:
From a modern multi column still.
BUT, it is Uncategorisable: Due to the additives and un-named distillery.
And with that mention of additives, when tested with my hydrometer, Ron Centenario Edicion Limitada 30 measured a lowly 27%, compared to the label’s stated 40% ABV, implying around 44g of added sugars.
Let us be honest, it does look impressive. Even if I put my Liverpool fan’s dislike of anything blue into the equation, it looks premium. The shiny outer box with embossed gold writing is replicated on the decanter-style bottle contained within. The bottle features a nice natural cork stopper, too.
On the box and bottle, we have the name of the product and ABV plus a stack of medals “won” by this ron (see above). But that is it! No reference to the stills or barrels used for ageing, although the dreaded “Solera System” is mentioned.
In my glass, this ron is a deep, dark amber to mahogany colour. Swirling the liquid around my glass, it has a high viscosity and the legs are thick and sticky, with big tears that are quick to drop down the sides of my glass.
On the nose there is plenty of sweet caramel – like one of those Galaxy caramel bars when you snap a piece in half. There are some dried fruits, notably raisins, a touch of oak and some vanilla.
Taste, Initial-middle 15/40
Sticky, sweet and cloying to start with, like the gooey caramel from the inside of the Galaxy caramel bar I mentioned in the nosing. Some vanilla and a touch of oak and it is exceptionally smooth, the word most associated with a shed load of additives in a ron.
Taste, Middle/Throat 27/40
The ron is thick and continues to be cloying through the mid-palate. Yes, it is smooth, but so is my Galaxy caramel chocolate bar, which coincidentally, also has a ton of sugar and artificial flavours added to it. There is more vanilla and caramel too. Towards the rear of the palate, the ron develops more flavours and becomes a little less sticky. Some spicy pepper and more oak give the ron some more character and point towards some of the juice being a bit more aged and flavoursome.
This has a surprisingly long and pleasant finish. The overly-sweet flavours have been overtaken by a build up of some lovely warming peppery spice. Long after swallowing, the flavours continue to please and it leaves behind a very enjoyable warming glow.
This is sickly sweet and sticky, the number is not an accurate age statement and there are a ton of additives in it (44g) – so much has been added that the density of the rum changed from 40% to 27% when tested with my hydrometer. There is no reference to where it is actually distilled – it might be that they buy in cheap spirit from elsewhere in Costa Rica or even Nicaragua. As far as I am concerned, it is not rum, it is a rum liqueur. And it is not 30 years old as so many rum sites, shops and reviewers mention – 30 years old is the maximum age of any of the blend and could account for as little as one drop in a bottle.
When reading some of the rubbish written online about Centenario, I encountered a web site describing it as “not as complex as Zacapa” – oh sh*t, we are in serious trouble here following that little gem of a description. Zacapa, complex????? The web site describes the ages of the Centenario rums as if they were genuine and referencing “something with more bite, more substance, more of a kick in the ass” as being what you get from “Caribbean rum made at sea level with bad water and molasses aged in sweaty tropical barrels.” Correct me if I am wrong, but a spirit should have a bit of a kick to it – it is alcohol after all and if it doesn’t have a kick, you have to ask the question “Why?”
I am not going to cite the web site to give it any credibility as what is written is utter bullsh*t and highlights the problem surrounding many (not all) latin-style rums. I would not mind if the web site described Centenario as a “Rum liqueur” since that is what it is (same as Zacapa) but to put down Caribbean rums, with all of their knowledge, 300 years of history, expertise and culture behind them is beyond a joke. That brings me neatly back to this Centenario product…..
In summary, we have a fancy bottle full of marketing, cheap multi-column spirit, false big number age statements and full of sugar, vanillin, glycerine and other cr*p to cover up the [likely] poor almost-neutral distillate. The result is because it is so sweet, smooth and costs so much, ill informed consumers assume it simply must be what it says. Well it is not!
If you like drinking rum, you will hate this as it tastes nothing like rum. For me, as a rum liqueur, it tastes great – a lovely after dinner dessert, but not at the price (see below). Save your money – if you like the sweet stuff, go and buy some cr*ppy spiced rum for £20 or so.
Drink what you like, know what you are paying for!
Dubious numbers on bottles, shed loads of additives in multi column [probably] close-to-neutral distillate. And whilst their budget range is at very reasonable prices, this is not as it is £120+.
Review No. 151
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/Finish Out of 7