When one thinks of rum, visions of Caribbean islands, beaches, and tropical concoctions come to mind. The idea that Central America has several countries such as Belize and Costa Rica that are producing quality rums can be a bit of a boggle. When I inquired about quality rums from Costa Rica, a friend recommended trying Centenario 20.
A friend of mine who was visiting picked me up a bottle of Centenario 20. He shared with me stories of the lush environment with rainforests framed by the Atlantic and Pacific. The rum selection is plentiful but Centenario is the only one produced in Costa Rica from fresh squeezed sugar cane juice. After it is fermented and distilled they age their rums in American white oak Bourbon barrels. Centenario 20 is aged using the Solera system for blending, meaning the oldest rum is 20 years which is then blended and balanced with younger rums for consistency.
The burgundy box shares information about Centenario and their processes in English and Spanish on the side panels. The bottle is a short handled design that has a burgundy wrap around the neck and is capped by a wood and cork cap. The gold Centenario crest is placed right below the bottle neck and above the label which is identical to the box. The word Centenario is embossed around the front base of the bottle.
The liquid has a lush mahogany color with lighter chocolate hues both in the bottle and the glass. Swirling the glass creates glacially slow legs as a thick band forms and clings to the side of the glass. As I let the liquid settle, I notice the bands transform into thick drops that hang on the side until my first sip.
As soon as you pour the rum in the glass a rich caramel aroma fills the room. After I let it settle the smokiness of the oak comes through carrying a light trace of vanilla and cinnamon.
The rum initially fills the mouth with smoky caramel. As the alcohol plays around the perimeter of the tongue I detect an oaky foundation intermingled with cinnamon, vanilla, and a touch of cocoa. As the flavors continue to settle I pick up a glycerol feel to the liquid highlighting the flavors. The smoky caramel note carries into the smooth finish and dissipates.
Centenario 20 rum is a solidly complex sipping rum. The blenders did a good job of balancing and blending the flavors start to finish. This experience definitely piqued my interest in other rums that are part of the Centenario line. I look forward to exploring them as I come across them.
This review first appeared in Got Rum? magazine.