Due to my unintentional focus on independant bottlers, some of the rums that I have been neglecting are the latin rums. So this time, I will be battling one of those.
And as I (sometimes) aim to serve my readers, I have chosen a rum from a company, that I do not have that much affection for. Infamous Ron Zacapa.The rum I have chosen for today, is their Zacapa 23 Straight From The Cask, which is practically impossible to find anymore. It was made in 2005 and issued in 2005/2006, so it’s not really that difficult to understand, why it is almost gone.
I have found no information about this rum on the RZ homepage, so I have had to piece together stuff I could find on a lot of different places online.
Basically, this is the exact same rum as the common RZ23. Just bottled at cask strength or undiluted. An ABV of 45% doesn’t seem that much for a cask strength, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that is actually a hoax. But I can’t really assume anything.
I applaud the fact that this rum has actually been bottled. I have raved on about how many rums should be bottled at higher ABVs on several occasions, so this is a really good effort in my opinion.
And to see it being done by Diageo, which I see as a consumer pleaser more than a crafts rum maker, is yet another round of kudos.
Hopefully it will have turned out great. More on that later.
Online sources doesn’t agree on the pedigree on the STFC. Some say it is really a 23 year old rum ”from the times when RZ23 was still an Años” (or something in that ball park), others claim that it is the same Solera 23 as the regular RZ23 and therefore it is made up from rums 6 to 23 years of age.
Once again I have to admit, that I know too little about the history of the RZ23. But has it ever been a true, fully aged, 23 year old rum? If you are reading this, and can supply me with hard proof, please contact me, as I am very eager to learn about this.
When dunking my hydrometer into it, I was presented with 46 grams of added sugar per litre of rum, which is quite a bit. Perhaps even a bit excessive.
However these things Z has a habit sugaring their drinks all the way from the clouds where they live, to the ground where their consumers live, so it didn’t come as much of a surprise.
I only managed to acquire a sample of this, so again the internet will be my source of information.
The rum comes with no real box to speak of. More like a bright card board bracket, which holds the bottle in place for storage.
Bottle-wise, we are talking classic RZ bottle, but the bagasse loin cloth is made in a more coarse braid than usually.
The label is a very old style thing and I have to say, that I rather like it.
The rum it self is quite dark – almost mahogany in colour, and when twirled around in my glass, it leaves a thick residue on the inside of the glass. Presumably because of the added viscosity from the dissolved sugar.
The first smell out was a lot of treacle. A rich and sweet domination of my sense of smell.
After a little fresh air, other elements started to appear too, with quite a lot of banana peel and burnt oak. In the very background, even a touch of soap.
It does have a slightly stabbing tendency, which is quite annoying when looking at the modest 45% ABV.
Unfortunately, it isn’t that complex or interesting, apart from the funny soap note, which I have never encountered before. Quite boring really.
Hitting the palate the syrup is a bit dominating again. It does however change quite a bit within the first few seconds. After the initial sweetness it evolves into a more complex and balanced experience.
Along with the syrup, I got ripe bananas, soft oaks and cloves, encased in a nice, rich, fruity wrapping, which I could only identify as canned pears.
Just to spice everything up, it treated me with a touch of menthol.
It is very obvious that the slightly higher strength contributes well to the mixture.
I am pretty sure that the increased strength is the very thing which prevents it from going overboard on the sweetness and keeps tickling my tonsils just enough to want to continue.
But unfortunately it also enhances some quite unpleasant tannic notes and presents you with quite a stab to the neck.
The overall experience is not that bad and it is actually quite drinkable and enjoyable. The funny combination of flavours is a welcome change.
I must say, that I am very pleasantly surprised on an overall scale. I didn’t see that coming, after being let down on the nose.
The exit is quite short and mostly sweet. The pear flavours are there for a short while, but disappears fast.
In the end, only a slight stickiness and a little spice is left.
Not much to write home about. So I won’t.
Rating and final thoughts
I must say, that it has been a while since I tasted the regular RZ23. But I would never have expected the SFTC to be as enjoyable as it actually is.
You will have to enjoy the sweetened rums of course. But if you are into the likes of Diplomatico, Zacapa and Centenario, this would easily deserve a place on your to-do-list.
Availability will however pose a problem, as the SFTC was only issued during 2005 and 2006, and stocks are almost fully depleted. Once in a while a single bottle may turn up at various online stores at an outrageous price.
At the moment of writing I have only been able to locate two bottles available for purchase, and they are priced at €250-350, which is of course insane for a rum like this.
Only as a collectors item would such a price make sense, so I’m not going to recommend a buy. Pray that one of your friends own a bottle, and hope that he will be willing to share it (and of course he will, because sharing is caring).
Despite that Zacapa stands for everything I hate about the rum world – Shady solera age statements, huge marketing shenanigans and diabetes inducing sugar levels – I can’t dismiss that the SFTC is actually an enjoyable drink, and I also need to acknowledge that RZ and Diageo chose to go a little bit outside the box on this one.
I hope that all the other big brand names took notice of this rum, while it was available. I’m sure they could have picked up a good idea or two.
I’ll shut up know, and go on with my business, so here is a…
Try google. Neither the Zacapa or the Diageo websites are of much help.