Rum Review: Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21
From the Dominican Republic comes another fine sipping rum: Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21. I was made aware of this rum by the 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition where it took Best Aged White Spirit, Best Aged Rum, and a Double Gold Medal (I’m available for next year’s panel, Anthony Dias Blue!). Earning such high marks, this stuff had to be good, right?
With no local stock to be found, I ordered my bottle from the good folks at Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa for about $40 plus shipping.
Made from sugar cane juice rather than molasses, Vizcaya’s delicate distillate is aged in the Solera style for up to 12 years (their Web site refers only to using bourbon barrels, but numerous other references indicate it’s actually a Solera aging).
The Vizcaya bottle is the same as Plantation’s XO 20th Anniversary Barbados rum, but the execution leaves something to be desired. Whereas Plantation features intricate laser etching, the Vizcaya features gold and brown paint. Furthermore, the importer has affixed a rather shabby looking plastic label around the neck of the bottle to carry the legally required information which would have looked much better on the back of the bottle. My final (and most important) gripe with the bottle is with the low-density cork. See the picture below and you’ll probably agree that a replacement may be necessary before I finish the bottle. OK, enough nit-picking the packaging–how does it taste?
With a generous pour in my tasting snifter, I initially sense a fair bit of astringency, but it’s fleeting. A swirl adds some oxygen and I can see droplets form then creep slowly back toward the bowl. After letting the rum sit for a minute or two, the astringency has dissipated, and luscious aromas of a bakery take over: butterscotch, caramel, banana and vanilla are all here and in a big way. There is also just a tiny hint of grassy funk that is very intriguing. Did this smooth operator carry over some agricole earthiness through all of that oak? Let’s take a sip and find out.
The rum washes over my tongue with an abundance of sweetness that is quickly followed by a kick of spice. The mouth feel is simultaneously slick and viscous. The butterscotch and caramel are prominent once again, as is the vanilla and banana. Toffee and raisins are here now as well. The finish is long and wet with a hint of orange, pineapple, and just the slightest bit of grassy rum funk mixed with cinnamon and nutmeg. Subsequent sips are just as pleasant as the first, and I find my initial pour gone far too quickly.
The Vizcaya Cask 21 is a delightful rum, and it’s easy to see why it has won so many awards. Personally, I really enjoy sweeter rums like Zacapa, so this one is right in my wheelhouse. That said, I can envision a rum lover who prefers a more aggressively dry character in their sipper finding the Vizcaya a bit too sweet. When all is said and done, it will come down to personal taste, but for me this one’s a winner.
Here are my scores:
- Appearance: 1/1
- Nose: 2/2
- Mouth feel: 1/1
- Taste: 3.5/4
- Aftertaste: 2/2
- Total Score: 9.5/10