Zacapa XO (25 YR Solero)
Review: Ron Zacapa XO (25 Year Solero) Rum (95/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted January 25, 2010 (Edited August 27, 2012)
Ron Zacapa Rums are made from sugar cane harvested in southern Guatemala, which is pressed into virgin sugar cane honey, a process unique to the Guatemalan style of rum production. This liquid is then fermented, distilled and taken to the mountains for aging, where the flavor of the rums is further refined through the premium aging process known as Sistema Solera.
The Ron Zacapa Centenario XO is blended from these solera aged stocks which range in age from 6 years to 25 years. These stocks were aged in special cellars more than 7000 feet above sea level. The solera barrels are a mixture of reused American Bourbon, Sherry, Pedro Ximenez wines, and Cognac barrels. The combination of solera aging and the wide variety of reused barrels creates a highly complex rum with a rich aroma and flavour.
I recently received a Ron Zacapa Tasting Kit in the mail which for me was the perfect excuse to revisit my previously published review for the Ron Zacapa XO (25 Year Solero) Rum. This review contains some very minor revisions from the original review intended solely for clarity. The scores have not changed, and neither has my perception of this great rum.
In the Bottle (5/5)
To the right is my original bottle of Zacapa Xo reviewed in January of 2010, and to the left is a current bottle shot. What can I say? The rum arrives in a beautiful crystal decanter, sealed with a quality cork topper. One of the most wonderful bottle displays I have seen. A brass coloured nameplate, and a touch of brass around the neck of the bottle completes an elegant design. The new display also comes in an attractive box display (not shown) which pleases me.
In the Glass (9.5/10)
Richness and luxury ooze from the nose of this sweet nectar. Scents of mild toffee and spice combined with a rich oak and vanilla aroma rise from the glass to the delight of my nostrils. There seems to be a light orange citrus weaving through the aroma. The spices I can identify by smell are vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg with just a hint of cloves. The toffee smells of deep dark brown sugar with the firm imprint of real dairy butter. The aroma has nice nutty accents tempering the oak and holding its harsher tannins at bay.
I swirl the glass and a thick sticky oil coats the sides of the glass, and only after waiting until it is ready, does the thick film form nice long legs that trail down back into the rum.
In the Mouth (57/60)
This is soft and smooth in the mouth, a silky suave rum that coats the palate with a thick honey-like sweetness. There is so much going on here; we have dried currants and apricot brandy melted into toasted chestnuts and deep dark brown sugar. Oranges and marshmallows lie under soft cinnamon and nutmeg spices with just a whisper of allspice and cloves. This is striking in its complexity yet every flavour is acting in unison with no off notes or bitterness. The oak and vanilla hold everything together. This is the kind of nectar that until now I believed only existed in my imagination.
In the Throat (14/15)
The soft oil provides a tremendous finish for the rum. All of the flavour noted in the mouth, stays on the palate long after the rum is gone. An hour after sampling from my glen cairn glass I still taste and feel the delicious spice in the back of my mouth. This is smooth all the way down with the gentlest of burn in the throat.
The Afterburn (9.5/10)
My goodness, this was nice! A rum full of complexity with almost perfect balance and smoothness. A delicious, sweet rum that had my taste buds absolutely reeling with delight. The only flaw of serious note is that my newest sample of the rum will soon be gone. I am thoroughly impressed.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
It is almost sacrilege to suggest a cocktail for the Ron Zacapa XO. Indeed this is a rum which my first suggestion is to serve at room temperature, neat, with no ice. The only cocktails I considered were those which matched the rum with ingredients of the same quality.
When I wrote my original review, I turned to forrest with a few ideas and suggestions. Neither of us was willing to commit the rum to various trial runs as the Zacapa XO is just to precious to fritter away. Forrest noted that one of my suggestions was essentially the same as a recipe called “The Batiste“, which is a cocktail using white rum and Grand Marnier.
My version of course uses the higher quality Ron Zacapa XO as well as the most excellent Louis Alexandre Grand Marnier.
The Royal Batiste
1 1/2 oz Zacapa Centenario XO
1/2 oz Louis Alexandre Grand Marinier
Build in a cocktail Glass on one Large Ice Cube
For those who want to know, ‘batiste’ refers to an extremely soft and elegant cotton fabric first produced in France. Baptiste of Cambrai a (13th Century weaver) is credited with its first production. My cocktail thus refers to the soft and elegant nature of the two spirits used which make this a drink fit for Royalty.
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)