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Rum Review: Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 Anos Rum

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How do you rate Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 Rum (five is best)?
 40%  [ 2 ]
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 20%  [ 1 ]
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Total Votes : 5

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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot

Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 3499
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 6:50 am    Post subject: Rum Review: Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 Anos Rum Reply with quote

Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 Anos Rum: "Maple Syrup Lite"

You know it's about time we reviewed the Big Kahuna - Zacapa 23 - the rum that conquered recent rum smackdowns until it was retired from competition. Consider it a modern day Barbancourt Five Star, but with one exception.

Zacapa - the 23 anyway - doesn't have nearly as much to offer the real rum drinker. Zacapa 23 was one of the first three rums I bought - the first being Mount Gay Extra Old, the second being Zacapa 23 and the last, Brinley's Coffee. I wanted to taste some great rums and decided that MGXO was surely a classic, that Zacapa had won too many contests to ignore and as for the Brinley's - I like coffee.

To be perfectly honest Zacapa 23 didn't impress me (or my friends) all that much (especially compared to the Mount Gay). Those early impressions have remained through several tastings, including one memorable evening with Robert Burr. Let's get to the current reviews:

Sue Sea:

I still remember Jim's entry into the world of rum tasting and his excitement over sharing his new Zacapa 23 with me. This rum comes in an attractive bottle with wide braided palm cummerband about its middle. As he's mentioned above, we found 23 to be smooth. Beautiful in its own way, with some complexity, but beyond subtle toward blandness. It's first aroma was of vanilla and a bit of oak, with some dark fruit, perhaps raisin. Light leather later, and a touch of furniture polish. The body is heavy, really too heavy I think. Zacapa 23 is very, very smooth, creamy and buttery, like a very light maple syrup or butterscotch. It moves to close with clove moving into a hot pepper.

With reflection I picked up a sense of mincemeat pie or raisin - filling, creamy, a little too thick for me. I think Zacapa 23 is more what I call a dessert rum, nice on a cool evening, something I'd be tempted to pour on cherries jubilee ice cream. I even picked up something close to black cherry. It finishes long, hot (and I mean hot) and peppery. Zacapa 23 leaves sweet syrupy aftertaste, the kind that demands you clear your palate.

This rum is a combination of bland and sickly sweet. Itis almost medicinal, reminds me of a thick, heavily sweetened cough syrup. Personally I think Zacapa is a heavily doctored rum aimed at creating a new market. I'd never buy another.


Sue Sea and I have come a long way in our tasting, and have reached the point where we have developed much more confidence and consistency in our findings. We are able to go back to a previously reviewed rum, retaste it and come up with remarkably similar impressions. That's good.

And so it goes with Zacapa 23.

Zacapa 23 is medium dark amber with thick slow scary legs, and a green edge. My first nosing of 23 revealed, like Sue Sea, vanilla and a dark fruit, perhaps raisins or prune. Quite plesant. I also picked up a light cane. Zacapa 23 comes across as thick and heavy. It is very smooth and sweet with tastes of raisins, maple syrup, and the little bit of cane persists. 23 finishes smooth, long, lightly peppery and chestwarming. Sue Sea calls it a "hot flash finish". She is right.. There was a light astringent and cloyingly sweet aftertaste.

Zacapa 23 has won many recent awards, but no longer competes. I agree with those that Zacapa 23 represents the contemporary marketing trend toward rum as liqueur - sweet, smooth and easy to drink. Too easy I think. Even the bottle with its faux gold leaf lettering and braided palm smacks of the marketing department. Not at all classic. On this one Sue Sea and I completely agree:

A very smooth sweet rum for those who don't wish to be challenged. Be sure to have a pitcher of clear, cold, palate-rinsing water handy. Should you buy it? Sure, it's great for ego and guests. But real rum drinkers may never buy another.

Score (10 is best): Sue Sea - 7.5, Jimbo - 7.


Note: We retasted Ron Zacapa 23 some six months and many rums later. We do this blind, without reading our original notes, to check our consistency and to report any real changes. A few minor additional observations were incorporated into the original review. A rereview was unnecessary inasmuch as our retasting and conclusions did not change, including the score. To be fair, Sue Sea's latest score was "7"; mine was unchanged.

In all honesty we remain disappointed in both this rum and the trend it represented. It may well be that this doctored rum may draw in new drinkers, but I have little doubt these will soon move to and prefer real Caribbean rums.


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