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Rum Review: Abuelo 12-Year

Abuelo 12-Year Rum (Ron Abuelo Añejo 12 Años Gran Reserva)

Abuelo 12-Year rum

Up for review today is a Panamanian rum I’ve been enjoying for a while now. It’s Abuelo’s 12-year rum, and it’s a beauty. The brown glass bottle is nothing to write home about, but I’m pleased with its height, as many sipping rums are bottled in exceedingly squat or unnecessarily tall vessels. At about a foot tall, this one fits nicely on my second lowest shelf. The relatively simple label is artificially tattered, and features a line drawing of an older gentleman—I’m assuming it’s depicting the Varela brothers’ grandfather (abuelo). Let’s open the natural cork stopper, pour a dram and take a closer look.

In the glass, the color is an amazing copper bronze with striking clarity. A swirl yields a host of rummy legs that begin as droplets and creep toward the bottom, indicating a suitable viscosity for a twelve year-old rum.

Investigating further, I am greeted with a chorus of aromas one might find at a fine patisserie: caramel, crème brulee are followed by baked apples and a hint of orange. There is the slightest astringency that dissipates as it breathes. I can hardly wait any longer—let’s take a sip.

As the first drop hits my tongue, the flavors burst onto my taste receptors: caramel, toffee, baked apples and the orange citrus notes blissfully comingle. A second sip provides another round of flavors: banana, vanilla and oak. There is a mild cinnamon note that melds with the other spices for just the right amount of heat. That heat combines with a hint of sweetness to provide a long finish that will make you want to keep your glass full of this Panamanian beauty for the foreseeable future.

The Abuelo 12-year is a remarkably well-balanced rum that will please any rum lover. It’s one of those rums that tastes old beyond its years—far better than some much older rums in my bar. The flavors are multi-layered, but not overly complex, and at $35, this is a bottle that won’t break the bank. What’s not to love?

Now for the scores:

  • Appearance 1/1
  • Aroma 2/2
  • Mouth feel 1/1
  • Taste 3.5/4
  • Aftertaste 2/2
  •  Total 9.5/10

Have you had the pleasure of drinking the Abuelo 12-year?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Buy Abuelo 12-Year online



5 Comments leave one →
  1. Scott Thomas permalink
    April 13, 2013 11:40 am

    I like this one quite a bit – that said, I find it a little on the sweet side, and suspect some enhancement. In this case, the rum is robust and flavorful enough that the sweetness doesn’t come close to overpowering the flavor, as it does in Ron Fortuna 8 yr.

  2. August 26, 2014 7:36 pm

    Yes I like it. I tried it tonight and then tried Zaya 12. Both were balanced and easy to drink. The Abuelo was richer, sweeter and deeper in taste. The Zaya 12 was dryer, cleaner and more even. I found both similar but I like the Abuelo 12 better.

  3. Kevin O'Brien permalink
    August 1, 2017 2:56 pm

    I received a bottle of this wonderful rum. Thoughonly an occasional rum drinker, I can say that this Abuelo 12 year old has become a favorite. What a wonderful flavor. Just as you have described.


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