Ron Zacapa Centenario-Straight From The Cask

Zacapa Straight Cask

Product of:  Guatemala 
Aged:  Solera blend of rums aged 6-23 Years
Price: $50 (duty free Belize)
 45% ABV
Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating:  9

Tasting Notes 
Extremely Smooth.  A beautifully deep, dark mahogany-brown color from aging for a generation in oak, turns slightly more red when held up to a light.  The higher ABV (45%) is noticed immediately on the nose, transporting the refined spirit’s deliciously sweet aromas to your senses more quickly.  It’s as if the long time spent in oak made the rum long for appreciation, so it doesn’t hesitate to impress and satisfy.  A heady blend of vanilla, oak, caramel, sweetness from cane and dates are presented in full splendor. Then, consummately delicate hints of spice such as clove, anise, and maybe cinnamon appear. The aromas are heavily sweet; nonetheless everything is balanced and mesmerizing to your nose.  Initial tasting slowly but surely overwhelms your senses with delectable waves of sweet rum nectar, complex but whole, with flavors matched to the aromas but with a deeper, more physical expression.  A heavyweight body, almost syrupy in texture, traverses your palate slowly, spreading charmed flavors more like a long sea swell than a simple little taste. The finish is exceptionally smooth and long in duration, almost chewy like dates, with no alcohol burn.

Ron Zacapa’a beautiful portfolio of rums are produced from cane honey (a cane juice reduction to a blond-colored syrupy consistency) fermented with yeast extracted from pineapples and column distilled.

The rums are uniquely aged and blended at a facility situated high in the mountains (almost 8000 feet altitude) near Quetzaltenango, where the daytime temps are warm, but cool at night, slowing the aging process, and permitting more time for contact with the American and French oak barrels.  There, the air is more humid and less dense than at lower elevations, enabling Zacapa to reduce evaporative loss of the rum to the Angel’s Share.

In April 2008, Diageo began a three year distribution and joint marketing agreement with Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala, a group of companies for the Zacapa rum brand, giving Diageo global distribution rights, although Central American duty free shops are excluded.  Perhaps this explains the large difference (3X) in the price I paid in a Belize duty free shop versus online stores.

Each bottle is tagged and numbered.  I purchased bottle number 040 from Barrel 001 in teh Belize International Airport duty free shop.  The bottle  appears to be the same style as used for Zacapa’s Sistem Solera 15 and 23 year old rums.  However, the Straight from the Cask bottle had thicker, more coarse strands used in the hand-woven petate leaf cummerbund encircling the bottle.  Watch the hand weaving being performed here.

For many 
many newbies to rum and rum aficionados, especially those with a sweet tooth, Ron Zacapa is the benchmark by which other rums are measured against – for better or worse.  You be the judge of that.  But if Ron Zacapa is your kind of rum, then add Straight From The Cask to your “ Must Acquire” list.  No longer produced, it is now an endangered species limited to old stocks that are quickly disappearing.  Slightly less oaky and fruity than Zacapa XO, but with a heavier body, Straight From The Cask’s higher alcohol (45% ABV vs 40%) enables the impressive aromas and flavors to express themselves with a greater intensity than we’ve come to expect from this distiller’s rums.  

Reviewed: March 2010 at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017