Abuelo Centuria

Ron Abuelo CENTURIA rum

Product of: Panama
Age: Solera blend of rums up to 30 years old
Price: $125
Alcohol: 40% 
26-30 g/L (estimate)
Context: Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating:  10 

Tasting Notes 
Unmistakably Abuelo in character, only smoother, richer, milder.  It is Panamanian throughout; exquisite, heavy bodied, sweet, endowed with deep flavor.  Centuria is distilled from molasses, aged in white oak barrels that formerly held Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey, then bended in a textbook solera method, and include some of Varela Hermanos’ oldest stocks.  The dark walnut brown color is testament to the aging process.Close your eyes and sniff, you can almost smell the hand labor that went into distilling, aging, and blending this heady rum.  Intoxicatingly heavy, dense, sweet aromas of oak-soaked aged rum, vanilla and caramel, balanced with molasses leather, tobacco, nuts and candied fruit, then finally lesser scents of spice and smoke emerge.  The initial taste is very bit as delectable and complex as suggested by the aromas, with just enough of Abuelo’s typical edge to pique your interest.  Unquestionably full bodied, Centuria coats your tongue with sugary sweet flavor, ending with an extremely smooth, firm dry texture that lingers with caramel, while a bit of leather adds substance to the  finish.

Abuelo Centuria is the result of aging and blending rums in a Solera system, some up to 30 years old.  It’s the brainchild of Ricardo Henriquez, Varela Hermanos’ former Distiller and Master Blender. Mr. Henriquez apprenticed at Bacardi.  Although humble, Ricardo is anxious to direct his of creative energy toward remodeling the Varela Hermanos’ distillery as well as overhauling it’s products.  Like Abuelo 12 introduced in 2010, and Centuria in 2011, his latest rums are seeking the high end of the luxury rum market.  During a private dinner with him in Panama, I was intrigued by Henriquez’ plans to remodel the estate, but more impressed with his artistic design insight and attention to detail.  Notable artists express themselves in various mediums.  Ricardo Henriquez will be appreciated for his rum.

••CENTURIA bottle badge OK-USE

Ron Abuela Centuria was created to honor the 100th anniversary of Varela Hermanos’ distillery, founded in 1908.  Proving that perfection cannot be rushed, the rum was ready but the packaging took a few more years.  The box alone is a piece of functional art.  Each Centuria bottle is cradled inside a box constructed of wood sanded so fine that you enjoy feeling its smooth finish.  The box is covered by some sort of deep chocolate brown colored textured resin.  It’s not paper – scratching the cover might leave a small burnished mark but no white undercoat.  Centuria’s packaging is meant to impress, to protect,  and to last.  It’s a worthy temple for the wonderful aged spirit it displays.

••Centuria Glass & Solera barrels

Inside the box, the heavy glass bottle with its 1-inch thick base is a power statement.  Even the crest on the bottle’s shoulder is special, made of brass and shaped like a coin, proudly stamped with the word “Varela” and a rendering of the entrance to the estate. Heavy foil seals over a wood cap and natural cork stopper, completing Centuria’s impressive packaging.  

Tasting Abuelo Centuria right now, I cannot put it down, neither literally nor figuratively.  Sure at $125, Centuria is priced at the upper end of the rum pyramid.   Certainly determine for yourself if it’s worth the price, but understand that just a few hundred bottles are destined to enter the United States.  At many of life’s decision points, success or failure is made by knowing when your ship has come in.  As for me; I bought two.

Reviewed:  April 2011 at Varela Hermanos Distillery in Pese, Panama and at Rum Renaissance Festival, Miami.

© Dave Russell 2017