Centenario Rum, also known as Ron Centenario (and not to be confused with Gran Centenario Tequila), is based in Costa Rica, where the company produces a massive number of expressions, all made from local sugar can and aged in oak.
Centenario sent its core lineup of six rums for us to review (there’s also an 18 year old , from its affordable 7 year old to its ultra-rare 30 year old. The 7, 9, and 12 year old rums are all aged “Spanish style” in barrels (and thus represent true age statements). The 20, 25, and 30 year old rums are all made in the solera style, so those years represent the oldest spirit in the bottle.
Thoughts on the series of six rums, which have recently seen updated packaging, including gift boxes or canisters, follow.
All are 80 proof.
Centenario Rum Anejo Especial 7 Years Old – Still youthful on the nose, but engaging, with ample vanilla of course, plus some coconut, almond, and quite gentle baking spice notes. Similar notes fill the palate, but the body is on the small side — slightly funky, not in a bad way — and the finish is short. Though it’s got a decent amount of age on it, it’s a rum built for mixing, not sipping. Which is fine, because we have a long way to go here. B / $18
Centenario Rum Conmemorativo 9 Years Old – Two extra years make a modest difference here, namely in the body, which is stronger and more pungent, with a slightly winey character. That aside, more coconut and an emerging chocolate note arise to complement the vanilla at the rum’s core, leading to a sharper finish that hints at sherry. B+ / $23
Centenario Rum Gran Legado 12 Years Old – Some clearly older notes percolate here, the nose taking on a winey, sherried note, heavy with notes of baking spice. A salted caramel character is heavy on the palate, with the coconut notes taking on a more toasted character. While it’s slightly chocolaty on the finish, the fortified wine notes are what endure the longest. B+ / $30
Centenario Rum Fundacion 20 Years Old – Getting into the solera releases (this one is 6 to 20 years old), the rum finds a particularly wine-heavy character to it, almost brandy-like at times. Notes of tobacco and old wood begin to appear on the nose, while notes of sour cherry, intense vanilla, and cocoa powder dominate the palate. The finish finds a certain sweetness, almost like a candied strawberry, lingering for some time. In the end, there’s an impressive balance between the spirit-driven power and the elegance that comes with extended time in wood. A lovely rum that straddles the line between crowd-pleaser and sophisticated sipper. A- / $40
Centenario Rum Gran Reserva 25 Years Old – This 6 to 25 year old solera style rum is very dark, like that of strong tea, with a deep and powerful nose that offers notes of coffee, aged sherry, cocoa powder, and walnut oil. Raisiny and spicy on the palate, notes of furniture polish, old leather, and mocha dominate, the finish bouncing between those strong wine and coffee notes. Rich, but with some acidity to give it life on the palate, it’s a pure sipper that invites examination and discussion. A- / $60
Centenario Rum Edicion Limitada 30 Years Old – The top of the line carries less age information than the 20 and 25: All we know is the maximum age of this solera style rum is 30 years old. It continues the theme started by the 20 and 25 year olds, pushing further the agenda of coffee and increasingly dark chocolate. While very winey on the nose, the composition is sweeter on the palate than the 20 or the 25, those nutty notes taking on a candied character, the more intensely oily, polish-heavy notes mellowing just enough to let the fruit in the rum pop. The finish is still sharp and strong, but the warming character fits what’s come before perfectly. Try this after dinner instead of a cup of coffee. A / $100