Aged up to 23 years, this rum earned five consecutive Gold Medals at the International Rum Festival and was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Situated over 1,000 feet above sea level in southwestern Guatemala, the Ron Zacapa Plantation enjoys generous amount of sunlight and mineral-rich, volcanic soils, making it ideal for the cultivation of fresh, raw sugar cane. There, expert farmers — many of whom have been tending to the land for decades — carefully analyze the sugar cane as it matures on the estate, harvesting only the canes that are rich in sucrose and fiber and lacking in impurities.
While most rums are made using molasses, which is a byproduct of refining sugar cane, Ron Zacapa Rum is made using virgin sugar cane honey. The virgin sugar cane honey is extracted from the first pressing of raw sugar cane harvested on the Zacapa Plantation, and lends a luxurious, smooth texture to the rum. Once the honey has been extracted, it is fermented with a unique strain of pineapple yeast before being distilled through a single column still lined with copper.
Following distillation, Ron Zacapa Gran Reserva Sistema Solera 23 Rum is solera-aged through a series of casks that were previously used to mature bourbon, sherry and Pedro Ximénez wine. Solera aging is a process that has generally been reserved for aging cognacs, ports and sherries. It involves filling a series of casks at different intervals over a long period of time. As rum from the oldest cask is emptied and bottled, the cask is re-filled with an equivalent amount of rum from the second-oldest cask in the solera. This cascading effect continues until the youngest cask in the solera is filled with new rum. As a result, no cask in the solera is ever fully emptied. In addition, as the younger rum cascades through the solera, its average age and complexity gradually increases over time.
As a result of this solera-aging process, Ron Zacapa Gran Reserva Rum has notes of dark figs, raisins, candied nuts and dried fruits. In addition, the solera used to age the rum is situated in the highlands of Quetzaltenango, 7500 feet above sea level. The thinner air and lower atmospheric pressure at "the solera above the clouds" intensifies the maturation process, and creates a more complex, layered rum.
Once the rum has cascaded through the solera, Lorena Vazquez — Ron Zacapa's master blender — blends together rum that has matured for up to 23 years. "I like things to have a structure, to be complex," says Vazquez, "so when you sip a rum, you're going to discover it, and it should surprise you."
Ron Zacapa Gran Reserva Sistema Solera 23 Rum has a light mahogany color, along with an aroma of sweet caramel, vanilla, cacao beans and butterscotch. The aroma opens up to notes of sweet honey, raisined fruit and apricots on the palate, which are well-complemented by notes of oak, coffee, leather and tobacco. The finish, which lingers just enough, ends with a touch caramel.
The rum earned a score 97 points from the Beverage Testing Institute, and won five consecutive Gold Medals at the International Rum Festival, where it was ultimately inducted into the Hall of Fame.
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80 (40% ABV)
Caribbean & Central America
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Light mahogany color, along with an aroma of sweet caramel, vanilla, cacao beans and butterscotch. Notes of sweet honey, raisined fruit and apricots on the palate, which are well-complemented by notes of oak, coffee, leather and tobacco. Finish, which lingers just enough, ends with a touch caramel.