Rum Review: Abuelo Centuria
Ron Abuelo Centuria Reserva de la Familia
Panama is famous for its canal, but if you ask me, the real gem of this isthmus nation is its rum. My first experience with Panamanian rum was the Abuelo 12-year from the Casa de Varela–a really well-balanced rum that for me hit all the right notes. So when I heard an anniversary blend was being released by the Varela brothers to mark a century of rum production, I knew I had to have a bottle.
At $129/750 ml, the Abuelo Centuria is far from cheap, but it’s made up of the family’s private reserve that includes solera-aged rums as old as thirty years, so it seemed like a fair price to me. And when you consider that only 200 cases were imported to the US, it’s safe to call this a limited release.
The Centuria comes in a substantial wooden case that cradles its precious cargo. The bottle itself is similar to the other expressions in the line, but unlike its younger siblings, the Centuria bottle boasts an engraved wooden top and a more prominently raised plastic Varela logo on the front of the bottle. There is also a more considerable heft owing to the thick glass base, which you can see in the photo above.
In the glass, the color presents as a mahaogany with copper highlights. A swirl yields a ring atop the bowl from which a number of droplets develop and begrudgingly creep south. I would expect significant viscosity from a rum of this age, and it’s obviously living up to my expectations.
The nose offers a waft of toffee followed by banana and hints of lemon meringue and baking spices. Astringency is almost non-existent. The first taste stays true to the aromas with vanilla toffee leading the way, and I quickly find my palate awash in a velvety liquid blanket of joy. The sweetness is significant as one might expect from a Panamanian rum, but the extended oak contact has given this rum a truly complex character that goes beyond the typical triumvirate of sweet, orange and vanilla. There is a definite oak presence here that suggests smoke and earth, but without nosediving into the tobacco and leather notes many of us do not particularly enjoy. The back end remains sweet, but here too is where the spices spring to life, suggesting black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and the slightest hint of clove. The finish is long and smooth with no saccharin-sweet bitterness.
Summing up, the Abuelo Centuria is a truly special rum that shows the incredible passion of its creators. It’s a fitting tribute to the Varela’s abuelo, and would be at home in the most discriminating rum lover’s collection.
So if you’re looking for a special Christmas gift for the rummelier in your life, look no further.
Here are my scores:
- Appearance: 1/1
- Nose: 2/2
- Mouth feel: 1/1
- Taste: 4/4
- Aftertaste: 2/2
- Total Score: 10/10
Other reviewers felt the Abuelo was special, too. Wine Spectator gave the Centuria a 97/100, and the Beverage Tasting Institute gave it a 96/100. What is your take on this Panamanian beauty? Please share your thoughts below. Huli pau!