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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?

Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 Rum

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?

Vizcaya Low Density Cork

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

Buy Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 online

Have you had the pleasure of tasting Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21? Please share your comments below.
6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 6, 2012 9:10 am

    A Nice review of Viscaya Josh!

    I see you had problems with the cork as well. (mine broke and crumbled into a hundred pieces.) The Rum is made by Oliver and Oliver in the Dominican and you are right it is Solera Aged. I was told at one of the rum festivals I attended that the rums in the blend were much older than 12 years, but my own research indicates that your statement of 12 years being the oldest rum in the blend is probably much closer to being true than what the Rum Rep was trying to spin me.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      May 7, 2012 1:39 pm

      Wow, thanks, Chip! That means a lot coming from you. Cheers!

  2. Phillip Chiricotti permalink
    March 16, 2013 7:46 pm

    This is a good rum. Not far from the best of them. Unlike your comments above, I do not find it on the sweet side at all. The Plantation bottle you were referring to at the start of your review has a killer rum inside. Wow. A beauty for sure. Not a fan of the over rated Zacapa.

  3. David Margolis permalink
    July 10, 2013 11:41 am

    I had this Rum the other night at a Cuban Rum bar in New Haven CT. I had originally asked for my personal favorite Oronoco but was told that it was discontinued. This is what happens when you buy it by the case. While a totally different body than Oronoco I felt like I was sipping a Cognac. Maybe a little sweeter but very smooth after a couple of swirls in the snifter. Haven’t bought a bottle so i can’t comment on the other issues that were brought up here but quite frankly I don’t worry to much about those things.

  4. Jay Bush permalink
    November 17, 2014 3:09 pm

    My new personal favorite barely knocking off Zaya and Zacapa solera 23. I am one of sippers that prefer a sweeter rum for sipping with just a tiny splash of water. I find the body to feel a little lighter in the mouth with less sweetness and vanilla than both the Zaya and Zacapa. What I really notice is a balance of subtle flavors. My new fav and locally about $36.


  1. New Rum Review: Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 « Inu a Kena

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