Flor de Cana Centenario 18

Flor de Cana 18 Centenario Rum Review by the fat rum pirateFlor de Cana – Sugar Cane Flower in English are a Nicaraguan rum producer. Hailing from the wonderfully named Chichigalpa the distillery and San Antonio Sugar Mill have been housed theres since 1890.

I have reviewed and tasted a few of the Flor de Cana line up – with contrasting results.  The Dry White 4 and the Gran Reserva 7 I both enjoyed.  The Gran Anejo 5 and the Centenario 12 less so.  The Centenario 12 was perhaps the most disappoiinting.  Insipid, muted and just very dull.

Flor de Cana have had quite a lot of criticism over the past couple of years.  Firstly they decided to drop the “anos” or “aged X years” on their bottles.  This is because the company claims they were looking for a flavour profile rather than a specific age for their rums.  Cynics have suggested that it enables Flor de Cana to reduced the age/quality of their blends.  Having tried one of the older Gran Reserva 7 Year Olds and the new Gran Reserva 7 – I must confess I could not notice any difference in the juice.

Maybe standards/ages went down a little a while back? Who knows? It’s not something I’m going to dwell on too much.  Yes I do think putting a number on a bottle when it doesn’t actually refer to the rum in the bottle is misleading.   However you need to take a step back and still evaluate the rum you have bought.  If you enjoy it and pay a fair price for it – it shouldn’t taint your overall experience.  People also tend to get a bit hung up on the “Slow Aged” statement.  Which will pretty stupid is hardly crime of the century.  In my humble opinion.

Secondly and more seriously Flor de Cana have been crtiicised very heavily over a couple of news reports into the conditions at their distillery.  It highlights that many workers are suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).  An article is here should you wish to read more about it.  I personally haven’t boycotted Flor de Cana rums as I don’t really think that would help such a big employer.  There is a certain irony I feel about someone filming themselves pouring rum down the sink on an IPhone, wearing Nike trainers and various other items of clothing made in third world sweatshops………But they have their principles.

Flor de Cana Centenario 18 Rum Review by the fat rum piratSo with those contentious issues I’ll get on with reviewing this rum.  Flor de Cana Centenario 18 is one of FDC more Premium offerings.  Bottled at 40% ABV it will set you back around £55 in the UK for a 70cl bottle.

Presentation is excellent with this rum.  The newly updated bottles (not only did they remove the age statement they also modernised) is much more “with it” than the rather tacky and antique looking bottles previously.  With their “faux suede” sleeves and tacky metals emblems.

For your money you get a very sturdy carboard sleeve.  The bottle is a square decanter style stubby bottle.  The real cork stopper is particularly large and grandiose with Flor de Cana on the top.  The presentation is very elegant and modern and befits this type of rum at this price point.  When you are competing with the likes of Diplomatico and Zacapa you need to look good.

Which is one of the strange things about FDC.  Despite hailing from South/Central America they seem to have eschewed the usual practice of dosage.  Their rums do not display the same levels of sweetness which seem to be aspired to in nearby Guatemala, Venezuela or Panama.  Yet amongst rum enthusiasts Flor de Cana are not always viewed as being “pure” or top level rums.  They don’t seem to garner much of a following amongst hardcore rum drinkers.

Flor de Cana rums are produced on a multi column set up and then aged in ex-Bourbon barrels and blended to produce the different rums in the line up.  Aside from the “Slow Aged” tagline FDC are quite unfussy and straightforward in their marketing approach.  Like other Latin American rum producers there may be some additions by way of “sweet wine” or other such things – but being honest I don’t really get a lot of that from their rums.  They seem honest enough.

I’m sure sales of Flor de Cana in Spanish speaking countries is good – Spain imports a lot of FDC stuff. Since the CKD articles it seems people are even scared to speak about FDC.  Which I guess is understandable.

On a lighter note lets press on with nosing and tasting this rum.

Poured in the glass Centenario 18 is a rich dark brown colour with flashes of red and orange.  The nose is rich and familiar.  It reminds me very much of the well balanced Gran Reserva 7.  Unlike the Centenario 12 it seems to have kept more of the bite of the younger rums.  The 12 was for me just a little bit tired.

Toffee, Caramel, Dark Chocolate, hazlenuts and a little touch of tobacco give the Flor de Cana Centenario 18 a sweet but not overly cloying nose.  It’s nicely balanced if just a little on the soft side.  There isn’t much by way of spiciness from the oak. It’s not an aggressive rum.

At 40% ABV Flor De Cana Centenario 18 is a very easy going sipper.  It is not a huge, intense flavour bomb.  It is not “knock your socks off” rum.  What it does deliver however is a very pleasant, reasonably complex sipper.

Flor de Cana Centenario 18 Rum Review by the fat rum pirateFlavourwise if you have enjoyed other Flor de Cana rums then this rum will feel familiar.  It has that nuttiness running through its profile which is so distinct in Flor de Cana products.  All the notes of the nose transfer nicely through when sipped.  It’s not overly sweet and retains a dryness which is particularly good on the finish.

Which is about medium in length but nicely balanced.  There’s a good amount of spiciness and the drying of the mouth is nice and ready’s you nicely for the next sip.

If you are more familiar with the likes of Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva and/or Zacapa this might be a way of trying an “undoctored” rum.  It’s gentle with a natural and not overpowering sweetness.

It’s quite a light, elegant style of rum very enjoyable.  I’ve found it nice to return to after buying so many cask strength single cask rums lately.  This offers a half way house – it appeals to my sweet tooth whilst retaining plenty genuine rum character.

At a higher ABV say 46% this rum might well be even better.  However Flor de Cana have a system in place so I doubt we will see anything too innovative from them.  They seem happy enough doing what they do.

 

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