A deep and relatively dark medium bodied rum that isn’t quite sure what it wants to be. Decent mixing agent, a shade too uncouth to sip…springing for the seven year old sibling might be a better idea.
I must have squirrelled the Flor de Caña 5 year old so far behind all the other bottles of hooch in the casa that it simply drifted out of sight and memory. Not too difficult when you consider my house is packed with piles of books, DVDs, computer gear, cameras and photo equipment, children’s toys (and children), camping gear, extra stuff for visitors and furniture I’ve given up trying to persuade my wife to get rid of. We once couldn’t find my son in the basement for a full two hours after he fell asleep under some bedding materials. So no surprise I lost track of the blocky, round-shouldered bottle of Nicaraguan five until I was neatening the rum shelf last week. On the other hand, maybe I’m just sinking into geriatric decrepitude.
Too bad this dark 40% product of Central America wasn’t really worth waiting for and discovering to an accompanying choir of heavenly bliss. Maybe it was my bottle, but after cracking the cap, it did give off whiffs of too-sharp oakiness and a faint rubbery scent that I didn’t care for, and, unlike the Rum Nations where this settled into a rich, deep melange, here it just assaulted my nose with about as much forgiveness as a third world dictator. At best I can tell you it had a certain richness to it, and gradually as it settled down, caramel, molasses and dried raisins allowed themselves to be made known, with a whiff of citrus rounding things out.
If I had to comment briefly on the arrival, “chewy” – which I may never have understood properly before now – would be the best single adjective. No other word described it as well unless it was “heavy” – a word a lot of West Indians would snicker over, given its relationship to “t’ick” when describing buxom attributes of the distaff side. Red grapes, sharp oak and burnt sugar, some tangerine coiling behind it all (but not much). Oddly dry. Middling sweetness, leathery notes, all wrapped up into a rather raw package that scraped its way morosely across the palate. I cannot tell you that the overall balance worked for me – that it was cut above the four year old white is unquestionable, I just didn’t think it was ready yet…couple more years in the white oak barrel would make it both better and a seven year old (and I liked that one a lot). Not entirely coincidentally, that’s my son’s age too.
Finish is heated, medium long and dry with some faint cinnamon notes, not too bad for an entry level rum that is the first in several further steps of ageing. I think it was a little too hot for me to pretend it can be a sipping rum, and recommend it as a cocktail ingredient, while remarking that its overall depth would present an intriguing challenge for the bartender looking for flavours which it enhances. Something lighter, I would suspect. The rum itself is aged in white oak barrels that once held bourbon and here I should make a remark on the “slow aged” process…a bit of a meaningless term, really. What is of merit is that the column-still distillate is aged without artificial flavourings or additives, and in traditional barrel houses built without air conditioning…that may account for the uniqueness of what can be termed the “Flor taste.”
I said this rum wasn’t worth discovering…perhaps that was being too harsh. I think it may just be too young (and not enough trouble was taken marrying the barrels’ output together) – the seven is for sure a better buy. Then again, it may be that I put together my tasting notes in conjunction with three other rums, two of which were simply better, and so I am being snooty. It’s a strange thick-legged sprite of a rumlet: diminutive, aggressive, determined, loud, eager, winsome, but—given its nose, stiff palate, dearth of a decent finish and an oddly discombobulated overall balance—also a trifle uncoordinated. It’s like Sheldon Cooper on a Starbucks bender, or Doc Emmett Brown having a real drink. On its own I’d use the Flor de Caña five year old Black Label as a mixer, sure, but on balance, I must simply say this rum, for all its familial cachet up the ladder, doesn’t quite have its poop in a group.