Montecristo 12 Year Aged

Montecristo 12

Product of:  Guatemala
Aged: blend of rums aged 12 years
Price: $34
Alcohol: 40% ABV
Context:  Premium Aged Rum 
RG Rating:  8

Tasting Notes 
Very Smooth.  Montecristo 12 yar aged rum shows a brilliant amber color through the clear glass bottle, and doesn’ fade in your glass.  Aromas at just the right intensity include sweet caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, alcohol, light spices (cinnamon, clove and nutmeg).  Initial tasting reveals nice vanilla and caramel flavors from aging in used American oak bourbon barrels, a bit of dry aged leather, a rather soft blend of rums produced in pot and continuous column stills.  The medium weight body amply carries the moderate flavors before a short duration finish that is drier than the aromas suggest, ultimately ending just off sweet.  

Distilled by Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala group  (ILG), the same facility that produces Ron Zacapa and Ron Botran.  Unlike those two fine rums however, Montecristo does not exhibit the signature heavy, sweet sherry and port flavors so characteristic of it’s cousins.  I suspect Montecristo foregoes aging in those used Sherry or Port barrels. 

Don’t confuse Montecristo with a “rhum agricole” – the differences are numerous. Montecristo is arguably doing themselves a disservice (and confusing rum aficionados) by calling their aged rum “agricultural” because it is distilled from a wash of sugar cane juice and not molasses.    Agricole means more than simply “fresh sugar cane juice-based rum.”  It encompasses specific aspects of distillation and production techniques.  Ask anyone from Martinique if you can suffer the lecture.  Or ask a Brazilian, and be prepared to go off on various cachaça tangents.  Visit the ancient Callwood distillery on Tortola, or River Antoine on Grenada, and they’ll politely offer you a sample of their rum while explaining how they harvest fresh estate-grown sugar cane for the juice in their unique pot still spirits.   I doubt the word agricole is in their vocabulary.

Overall, Montecristo 12 is a pleasant sniffing and sipping experience though not overly distinctive.  Accept Montecristo for what it is: a nice aged rum that exhibits fine Guatemalan style, with sweet forward flavors, long aging in wood, and wonderful depth of character.   Rum categories are, in the words of Pirates of the Caribbean “more like guidelines anyway.”

About Rum Gallery's placement within the Premium Aged Rum context – In a blind tasting, I would most likely identify Montecristo most closely with a Latin American rum.  If your tastes gravitate towards Guatemala, Costa Rica or Venezuela you won’t go wrong with it.  Guatemalan rum, both culturally and style-wise, are about as far from an agricole rhum as you’ll find.  Regardless of what rum category label you put on it, Montecristo makes for a nice aged easy-sipping rum.  The rum’s classic vanilla and caramel flavors reward sipping it neat, with a piece of ice or in a subtle cocktail that brings out its delicate flavors.

Reviewed:  June 2011 at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017