Cartavio XO

Cartavio XO

Product of:  Peru
Aged:  18 year solera (weighted average by age and quantity)
Price: $45 in Peru (70cl)
Alcohol: 40% ABV 
Sugar: 26-30 g/L (estimate) 
Context: Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 10

Federico Schulz, Cartavio

Tasting Notes
A deep mahogany color infuses the rum due to its prolonged aging in oak barrels from France, America and Slovenia.  Refined aromas of almost maple-like caramelized sugar, and delicately understated spices, leaning toward vanilla, ginger and gentle Saigon cinnamon, coupled with fruits (dried cranberry, persimmon, banana), complex oak, and pecan, alcohol perfectly matured into the aromas.  Initial Tasting delivers ample sweetness as soft as baby Alpaca; the complex flavors spread quickly throughout your palate, showcasing aged leather, oak and fresh tobacco, rich dark chocolate, a bit of dried cranberry and plum.  A substantial body reinforces the mature aged character and notably sweet initial flavors through to the lusty finish, which respectfully invites you to start the tasting process all over.

Founded in 1929, Cartavio released XO in 2009 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the distillery.   The distillery is now a fully up to date facility, situated next to a large sugar mill, ensuring a constant flow of fresh molasses.  Combing the best production methods of both old and new, Cartavio’s Master Blender Federico Schulz and his diligent craftspeople produce heavy rums from an exquisite old pot still rescued from the original distillery grounds, while a modern continuous pot still sourced from India tirelessly deliver precise light rums.  Spirits from both stills are bended into Cartavio’s XO. 

Cartavio Pot Still 4K liter

Standing in a small bar at the historic, beautiful Plaza de Armas in Trujillo, Peru, I anxiously awaited my first glass of Cartavio XO.  One sniff and I knew this rum deserved ample time to get personally involved with, so I stepped to a quiet corner and simply explored the spirit, mesmerized by its thorough beauty and complexity.  After 20 minutes I emerged from delicious exile, but continued to be amazed all night with each new glassful of Cartavio XO.

Cartavio Continuous Still

Fully appreciating the response their beautiful XO rum was sure to make once it was tasted, Cartavio developed a uniquely stunning decanter to display their ultimate spirit.  From the top down, a wood handled cork is secured by wire, twisted champagne-style.  The bottle is heavy and strong shouldered, square in cross section with rounded sides, tapering slightly to a narrower foundation of ¾-inch thick glass.  Completing the exquisite package is an oval shaped metal overbox printed with icons derived from ancient Chimu natives of Peru’s fertile Moche valley. 

Truly an exemplary world-class rum, Cartavio XO satisfies on every sensory level.  It delivers outstanding complexity without hesitation, as if anxious for the connoisseur to discover its succession of ever better facets, from color through to the exquisite finish.  Only those lucky enough to live in beautifully varied Peru and a few other countries were treated to Cartavio’s quality before we Norte Americanos were privy to XO, but I highly recommend you seek XO wherever you find it for sale in the USA.

Reviewed:  November, 2009 in Trujillo, Peru while on tour of the Cartavio distillery and thereafter on special occasions.

© Dave Russell 2017