Panamonte Reserva XXV – 25 Year Old Rum
Review: Panamonte Reserva XXV 96/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Published on March 1, 2012
The Panamonte Reserva XXV is a new well aged Panamanian rum from PANAMONTE BRANDS. This is a molasses based rum produced from sugar cane grown and distilled in Las Cabras de Pese. This rum is very special, as every drop of the Panamonte Reserva XXV rum has been aged for a minimum of 25 years in used bourbon casks. It was handcrafted by Master Blender, Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez Perez. In case you are not familiar with Don Pancho, I should mention that he has built up quite an impressive track record of late, helping to bring to the market two of my more favoured rums, Panama Red 108 and Zafra Master Reserve.
Don Pancho’s recent successes have been no accident. They were built upon an impressive 40 year career in the rum industry which began in Cuba where he was mentored by the Master of Masters, Don Ramon Fernandez Corrales. It continued through the late 1970s, when acting as Director of the Cuban Beverage Industry, he brought his expertise overseas and assisted in the implementation and development of Master Blenders in the distilleries of many countries worldwide such as the former Soviet Union, Poland, The United Kingdom, Canada, South America and even places as faraway as Madagascar. In the early 1990s, Don Pancho moved to Panama where he worked for Varela Hermanos (the makers of Abuelo Rum). Finally after 40 successful years in the rum industry when others would retire, Don Pancho has continued to use his experience and passion to create his own special style of rum to the delight of aficionados worldwide.
I received my sample bottle of the Panamonte Reserva directly from Panamonte Brands shortly after the New Year. I immediately placed the bottle on my review shelf, and now I have completed the review.
In the Bottle 4/5
To the left is a picture of the Bottle of Panamonte Reserva XXV which was sent to me for review. The bottle is crowned with a wooden topper which has embedded in it a plastic threaded closure. The side of the bottle contains some information in the form of a stamped certificate that reveals the limited nature of this bottling. My bottle is from Batch No. 1, and is bottle number 16. (I have to admit that receiving the 16th bottle from the first batch is pretty special to me.) However, it is when you read the fine print on the sides of the bottle that the truly special nature of this rum is fully revealed. The stamped certificate contains the statement,
” IMPORTED FROM PANAMA EVERY DROP AGED 25 YEARS”
This statement carries some weight because the other side of the bottle reveals the product was imported into the US by Liquor Group Holding LLC, of Ponte Verde Beach, Florida. This of course means that all of the labeling is subject to US regulations, and by law every drop of this rum must be aged that full 25 years to carry this statement on the bottle.
My only quibble with the presentation of the Panamonte Rum, is with the protective box. It is a rather crude affair, and appears for lack of a better word, ‘shabby’, with the beige fabric overlaying the cardboard displaying frayed ends, and the glue holding it down is loosing its grip. I believe the company (Panamonte) is trying to convey an impression of hand craftsmanship with this box display which looks it was ‘hand made’. I do not mind that sentiment, but I wonder how many people will assume (when they see the box on the store shelf) that the rum inside is as shabbily constructed as the box it is housed in. I know that if I had a store which sold rum, I would get rid of that box before my customers saw it and just put the nice decanter on the shelf. (I deducted a full point for the shabby box.)
In the Glass 9.5/10
The rum has a dark, rich brown molasses colour and displays striking orange highlights when held up to the light. Thick droopy legs run down the sides of that glass after I give it a quick tilt and twirl, and the initial aroma from the glass is steeped in sweet molasses and tainted with oak spice. Dark brown sugars, orange peel, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves all drift upwards from the glass reminding me of the sticky cinnamon buns that my mother used to bake on special occasions.
As the glass sits, the impact of the oak gains momentum and stains all of the scents with its presence. The orange peel moves to marmalade; the brown sugars move to dark rich toffee; and the pungent spices move to smells of deep dark tobacco. I also begin to smell baked apples and dry fruit (raisins and dates) as if the rum has a sherry influence (I am told it does not), and although I wonder why I did not notice it before, the scent of roasted walnuts has grown in the glass giving the overall aroma even more depth and character. This is a glass of rum which I could happily just sit and relax with, even if I was only smelling the breezes above the glass.
In the Mouth 58.5/60
The initial entry into the mouth is surprisingly soft and not nearly so sweet as the nose would have led me to believe. Bittersweet chocolate, roasted walnuts, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and a very light dusting of brown sugar are the initial flavour impressions I receive. Oak spices, marzipan, Christmas cake, vanilla, more roasted walnuts and spicy tobacco wrapped in leather all follow along for the ride in a gushing river of flavour that is marvelously delicious.
The aged rum has a robust, complex flavour which is full of character. There is a bit of an earthy quality which seems to bind everything together. The oak is strong and present at all times, yet this oak does not devour the rum; instead, it is an integral part the flavour having merged with the other flavour impressions rather than dominating them.
In the Throat 14/15
The rum exits with a rush of spice which heats the palate and warms the throat. The aftertaste in the mouth is full of spicy flavour and subtle nuances which include orange peel and marmalade, dried fruit sprinkled with nutmeg and cinnamon, and bittersweet chocolate. The flavour nuances slowly subside until only the heat from the spice is left.
The Afterburn 10/10
One thing that I found very interesting about the Panamonte Reserva XXV was how the rum seemed to change its character during each phase of my tasting regime. When I was nosing the rum I loved the scent of sweet sticky cinnamon buns rising from the glass. When I was tasting the rum, it was lightly bitter flavours of chocolate and walnuts which beguiled me. When I was swallowing the rum, it was the spicy nuances of flavour that delighted me. The rum tempts me with sweetness, beguiles me with softness, and then warms me with oak spice.
I have placed my scores up in the stratosphere, and frankly, this Panamonte Rum might even deserve better!
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score as follows:
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)