Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 Años (pre-Sistema Solera, discontinued)

Zacapa23 palmleaf

Product of:  Guatemala
Aged:  Solera blend of rums aged 6-23 Years
Price: $32
 40% ABV
Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating:  10

Tasting Notes 
Mahogany amber color. Flavors are harmoniously balanced on the palate, with no one thing to overwhelm the senses at the expense of another. Subtle aromas of caramel, spice and sweet pipe tobacco on the nose with a completely subdued alcohol, hint that Ron Zacapa Centenario has fully matured to perfection. But drink you must, to experience a perfect rum. One sip and you realize you could just nurture this rum forever, satisfied in the knowledge that when you do get around to another sip, your taste buds will be delicately rewarded. All those fine aromas are fully expressed in the taste, with almond and oak added to the complexity already hinted at on the nose. Roll Ron Zacapa around on your tongue before swallowing, it is that sweet. The finish lingers, as sweet sugarcane honey flavors hang onto your lips and tongue, and warm the throat until you try the next sip. 

One look at the Zacapa bottle – completely wrapped in woven petate right up to its built-in carrying strap – and you suspect there is something special inside. Then Wow! what's inside does not disappoint. Ron Zacapa is sublime, velvet smooth, one of the most perfectly flavored and refined rums available. Ron Zacapa's secret might have something to do with the 23 years of aging in oak up in the cooler, high altitude climates of Guatemala. But I think there is more to it than that. This is a true craftsman's drink, built for enthusiasts by rum experts. Silky smooth, only as sweet as fine Rum should be, with no alcohol bite, plus all the spices, vanillas, nuts, smoke, and paraffins balanced unobtrusively to deliver the consummate taste. Ron Zacapa is the most approachable of so many exceptional Guatemalan rums imported to the US. 

Zacap 23 Años

Ron Zacapa is one of the most distinguished tasting rums I have ever sampled. I was first introduced to it by a friend who, while traveling in Central America, asked a local merchant for his best rum. Resolute, the merchant recommended Ron Zacapa. And I am reassured by the his wisdom every time I sip Ron Zacapa 23. On any scale; whether you rate a rum by its price-per-age, smoothness, balanced flavors, attractiveness of packaging, etc., Ron Zacapa measures up. My advice: buy some, and when you feel the need to treat yourself to a sweet rum, reach for Ron Zacapa. 

Packaging Changes:  Circa 2007, Zacapa updated the packaging for Centenario 23 Años.  The traditional, fully enveloping woven petate cover was replaced by a new bottle of substantial heft and banded by an attractive patate belt.  

Zacapa 23 SS Label

In 2009 Zacapa changed the packaging again, this time in a more subtle way.  The words "Sistema Solera" replace "Años" on the label, presumably to reduce confusion over the controversial age statement.  The original fully enclosed bottle has been discontinued – so rare that if youd find the old Zacapa Centenario 23 Años, buy it. .  

For the Rum Gallery's opinion on how the rum's flavor evolved, see Ron Zacapa Centenario Comparison: Sistema Solera 23 vs 23 Años.

Reviewed: November 2006 at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017