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Ron Zacapa 23 Solera Rum was created in 1976 in the highlands of Guatemala, where it is distilled in a copper-lined column still from fresh cane juice before solera aging.
The 500 year-old Spanish Sistema Solera method is used to age Ron Zacapa 23 in white oak casks. This results in a combination of rums aged between 6 and 23 years.
The current Ron Zacapa 23 bottle features a woven band around the middle, which is in reference to the original hand woven palm leaf petate bottle cover that covered the bottle.
It's nice, that's true. It's smooth, that's true. It's the best in the world, that's not true. I think before this was bought by Diageo and turned into the brand that it is now, it was probably an incredible rum. Now you can almost taste that mass produced finish. There's also some serious added sugar. It's just way, way too smooth and sweet for a 23 year old (which it's not) rum. There's so little complexity. Again, it's a rum you would give to someone who said they didn't like rum or who you were trying to encourage into rum (except a whiskey drinker).
Yes it tastes great. No it is not a genuine aged rum. The XO version is IMO less sweet and more what this rum should be, but the 23 has been sweetened to make it more appealing to the American palate. Also, this is not a 23 yr old rum, it is a Solera blend of aged rum the OLDEST of which is 23 yrs, the average age is closer to 6-8 years.
The "z" rums - Zaya, Zacapa, Zafra - as well as Diplomatico and others have led people to believe aged rums should be sweet and smooth, while drier genuine rums - Appleton 12 yr, Mount Gay extra old, Flor de Cana, Seales 10 yr, any agricole rhum - are more indicative of what rum SHOULD taste like in its unaltered state, but less appealing to most people's palates.
I am even beginning to think that my favorite El Dorado rums are sweetened, though it is less dominant and actually compliments the robust flavors of the Demeraran rum. The same could be said for Zaya and this one, though IMO the sweetness is considerably more forward. The Zaya and zacapa are robust enough to still be interesting, while Diplomatico Reserva and Ron Fortuna 8 yr both taste flat and boring to me. Ron Fortuna 8 yr is the worst offender yet, nauseatingly sweet and bland. Both probably were decent subtle rums before being sweetened within an inch of their lives.
Edit : I have recently come across some info on a Swedish national site that discloses added sugar in rums. This rum formerly had 45 g/ltr of sugar added, which - along with El Dorado 12 yr - was by far the most of any rum on the list. It has recently (no idea when) been reduced to 20 g/ltr.
(Update January 3, 2020: So... after reading through the hydrometer tests, I unfortunately discovered that Ron Zacapa is a company that absolutely loads their "premium rums" with additives like sugars and coloring such. This is something that disappointments me greatly. As noted on my recent review of Zacapa's Edicion Negra, "premium" rums with additives that aren't labeled mean an automatic three points off. That means the highest I can give this now is a 7. It won't go lower because this review is still otherwise true... I do love this rum regardless. Sadly, it's a flavored rum, not a pure rum. Hence the drop in rating.)
I finally got my hands on Ron Zacapa 23... not a 750mL bottle, unfortunately, because they were out, but two 50mL bottles. I went ahead and opened one.
Now, I did do something that perhaps might be seen as... erm... wrong? But it works for me and always brings out more flavors in basically any spirit I'm enjoying.
In short, I used a Vinturi Spirit Aerator, and used that to pour the rum into one of the Neat Whiskey Glasses (I don't have a specific rum glass... wouldn't mind some recommendations).
Sipping it like that has really changed my whole understanding of rum. I've always enjoyed Captain Morgan, but this blows them out of the universe. I'm sipping it right now and it's hard to describe, but...
My dad is basically a scotch collector, and he's been teaching me how to distinguish nose and palate and finish with scotch. I was never very good. I'm okay (not great, but not bad, either) at being able to tell by taste when a scotch has been aged in sherry casks. I can also pinpoint obvious stuff, like smokiness/peatiness, and stuff like that. But I've never been very good at picking out various flavors.
With this, I can do it. On the nose I get hints of vanilla, cocoa, and caramel. I've never been a big fan of bananas, and I was expecting that, but I get something more along the lines of plantain, which while I wouldn't say I like, I definitely prefer over banana.
I love the complex sweetness of the palate. Caramel is the overarching flavor I get. The plantain comes out again, only in tiny hints, however. I pick up raisin and apricot, as well. And an underlying hint of coffee.
And I absolutely adore how this sits on my tongue. It's sugar... which I guess is to be expected. And I love that.
This is nothing like those mixing rums I like. They never had a really defined flavor that I could pick out. Just... rum. But this is something else.
I find Zacapa to be rather tasty but way too sweet to have more than a couple oz. Drink a half bottle and get ready for a big-time hangover. Good mouth feel, long finish, nice bouquet of baking spices, vanilla and caramel on the palate. Sadly, when rums like this one are artificially colored and flavored like this, I cannot consider it a fine rum. Also "Solera 23" is truly deceptive. There may be 2% to 5% of 20+ year old rum in there, but I have been told the average age is closer to 6 yrs. Now, 6 yrs is plenty of time to make a great rum, but don't lie to me.....
This is absolute crap! I can't believe there are so many people who still believe this to be great rum. It's really just moderately aged stuff combined with a ton of raw molasses and other sweet additives after distillation.
I think this rum is responsible for many people thinking 'rum is too sweet'. The fact is this rum is too sweet and far too popular. Let people make their own cocktails out of your average at best rum with out trying to make a pre-batched cocktail like this an ultra-premium rum! You're only hurting the category as a whole.
This rum is as much the base line to critic a lot of molasses rums as well as maybe the easiest entrance to the world of rums.
By far the most over rated rum in the world. There are so many additives, including sugar and glycerine, which is fine I guess, but they a deny it! It's marketed by Diageo which is one of the biggest liquor companies in the world. The rum has no flair, no passion, it's essentially an alcoholic sugar syrup and for the price you can get so much more. Do yourselves a favor if you want Guatemalan rum and go for ron botran. It's not as sweet, and it adds so much more passion and depth than this garbage
While I agree that the solera system hides the true make up of this rum, I think it is quite good regardless of the younger spirits that likely make up the majority of the bottle. The sweetness is actually held back nicely, at least compared to other Spansih style rums as say Diplomatico. There is also a nice touch of oak. I think it stands on ots own merits quite well.
The RZ 23 was a rum I was looking forward to. It have some reputation. Unfortunately it didn't live up to it.
I mostly use it for drinks. It can be consumes straight but it's not very smooth or exiting to drink. It's a rum that I won't buy again.
The Zacapa 23 comes in a paper box and a very nice bottle with the classical woven band around it (image).
On the nose you get some alcohol, toffee, fruit, vanilla, wood and spices. After a while the alcohol disappears and the other flavors gets more intense. In mouth the Zacapa 23 is smooth and sweet with some spice and a lot of vanilla.
In the throat the Zacapa 23 is very smooth with a bit of spice and oak at the end. The aftertaste disappears rather quickly. It should be longer.
I think that the Zacapa 23 is a very good and price worthy sipper but I only give it 8/10 because I think the Zacapa XO is a bit better as a sipper.
Want diabetes? Drink this garbage. So full of sugar and artificial flavours, so full of lies from the age statement to the 'hand woven' stupid weave around it. Save your money and don't give it to these liars and cheats
"The interplay between the wood of the barrel and the liquor contents gives the alcohol its flavour, colour and character..."
"Ron Zacapa Solera 23 rum review by Peter from the Floating Rum Shack"
"Ron Zacapa Centenario Solera 23 review by Mike at Ultimate Rum Guide"
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