the debate over warm weather drinks continues through this scorching
summer—gin and tonic, supper cold beers, vodka martinis—it's hard to
ignore the spirit of the tropics: rum. And just in time for the next
round of hot weather Ron Abuelo has released an extremely smooth and
flavorful sipping rum—Centuria—that needs no mixer or ice, although you
may want to add rocks as a nod to the weather.
Centuria is limited-edition bottling meant to mark the more than century-long tradition of its producer Varela Hermanos, which was founded in 1908. The rum is a blend of spirits especially selected from the "reserva de la familia" of the company's solera system. It includes rums as old as 30 years in the blend. The solera system is labor-intensive pyramid stacking of barrels in which rums are consistently cycled through, blending with older spirits as they go.
Varela began as a sugar mill operating on the cane fields of the family estate that now numbers over 1,000 hectares of land. The family first distilled rum in 1936. The company's recent initiative has been going "green," using alternative fuels sources and dispensing with the common act of burning the leaves from the cane before harvesting.
It is an immensely sweet rum with a price tag to match ($130 for a 750-ml bottle). Centuria delivers, however, with complex spices added onto a generally rich cane taste.
Ron Abuelo Centuria (40 percent alcohol by volume, or 80 proof, $130)
APPEARANCE: Dark amber color with avocado hues. Slow, tight legs.
NOSE: A sugary aroma balanced by vanilla and graham cracker.
PALATE: When it enters the mouth, with its voluminous body, the first sense is of the welcoming mouthfeel—lush and smooth. Sweetness pours over the palate, and then comes a rush of spice that creates the rum's nuances: sweet pastry and honey taffy, licorice drops and orange peels, ripe bananas and butter rum candy.
FINISH: As it goes on, the rackful of Caribbean spice sinks in, followed by a rebirth of the orange flavor. Medium length.