Review: Ron Zacapa 23 (2016)
It’s been eight years since we formally reviewed Ron Zacapa’s “23” expression, a Guatemala-born rum made from the first pressing of sugar cane juice (not the more typical molasses) and aged in solera style. (Zacapa 23 is not 23 years old but is rather blended from various rums aged 6 years old and up.)
Recently the company put Zacapa 23 through some minor bottle changes, and, given the amount of time that has passed, we felt a fresh look was called for. Let’s look at Zacapa 23 as it stands as of 2016.
A beautiful shade of toffee in color, the rum presents itself as amply aged, and the nose bears that out. Notes of old wine, coffee, roasted nuts, and milk chocolate all make an appearance, giving this rum a beautiful complexion before you ever take that first sip. The body shines just as brightly, though, offering a mix of fruity sherry notes driven by some of the barrel aging, deeply roasted and spiced nuts, all backed up with the essence of a solid cafe mocha. The body is unctuous but not gooey, the finish lengthy and complex but not overwhelming. Everything there is to like about rum can be found in Zacapa 23. Or should I see, everything there is to like about rum can still be found here.
All told, it remains an essential bottling.
A / $48 / zacaparum.com [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]
It is my impression, from zacapa brand reps, that the sugar is cooked and caramelized to some extent before fermentation. They call the juice sugar honey or honey sugar or something like that. This puts it in a unique place among rums because it is not molasses nor fresh cane juice. I just think it’s interesting to note that the roasty, toffee and chocolate flavors aren’t all from the barrel aging.