Several years ago I heard that Facundo L. Bacardi had requested that his Maestros de Ron create a premium line of products. In 2013 I witnessed the unveiling of the line at a private event in Miami. There I learned that Manny Oliver, Bacardi Global Master Blender, and Jose Gomez, Bacardi Master Blender, were allowed to tap the family reserves to create the Facundo line. They submitted over 40 blends to Facundo and a panel of rum experts for consideration. After much trial and error, the final four expressions for the line were selected. Under the supervision of Mr. Oliver, a limited amount of these expressions are released every year.
Facundo Exquisito rum is a blend of rums aged between seven and twenty-three years in American oak barrels then finished in sherry casks for a minimum of one month. At this time, the rums are aged, blended and hand bottled to 80 proof in Tultitlán, Mexico.
The rum is sold in a gray box with gold leaf and white lettering. The art deco design on the box matches the design that wraps the bottle. The scene commemorates the 1920's culture of Havana, Cuba during Prohibition. The cap and neck of the bottle is sealed with a plastic security wrap with an additional security label wrapped around the top of the cap down the neck of the bottle.
When I opened the bottle I discovered that the metal and wood cap held a plastic cork. El Ron Mas Premiado is embossed across the top with a palm-floral design combination. The mahogany liquid of the rum has the burgundy hue I am used to seeing in sherry finished products.
The aroma from the pour has a strong vanilla note. When the note subsides brown sugar followed along with breadfruit, melon, black pepper, oak, and sherry. At the very end I detect a brief pop of acetone/ethanol that unpleasantly tweaks the end of the aroma.
The first sip reveals sweet vanilla, molasses, dried apricots, cranberry and sherry taking the high notes, the base is formed with black pepper, coffee, and warm oak notes. As the oak notes begin to fade, the ethanol ester pop I discovered in the aroma is quickly subdued by the sweetness of the other flavors that lead to a light fruity finish.
I do not always add water to a rum I am reviewing. However, this one had a depth of complexity and with the esters in play I could not resist adding a couple of drops of filtered water to the glass. This unlocked notes of pineapple, banana, baking spices and magnified some oak notes, while subduing the ethanol pop.
Facundo Exquisito is a complex puzzle of a rum that is best enjoyed in a snifter with a couple drops of water or an ice cube. By adding the water the transformation in some ways reminded me of the old Guatemala Zaya formula. The ethanol ester pop is worthy of note, but does not wreck my positive impression of the spirit. This rum pairs well with beef and roasted chicken dishes as well as chocolate based desserts. I look forward to sharing my impressions of the other expressions of the Facundo line in upcoming issues of "Got Rum?" magazine.
This review appeared in Got Rum? magazine.