Thursday, 31 December 2015

Review 71 - Rum Nation Panama 10 year old 2015

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
Good, but not great. And in for some serious competition.
So, as the year slowly moves towards the end, we need to be gearing up for the celebrations.
For that, something easy going to get in the mood.

Once more I turn to good ole Rum Nation for a new product.
This time, the Rum Nation Panama 10 year old from late 2015.

Full disclosure: This bottle was supplied to me free of charge by Mr. Fabio Rossi himself.

This is not the first Panamanian from Rum Nation. In the past there has been several editions of an 18 year old and a 21 year old.

As far as legend goes, they all came from Don Pancho, although the Don publicly refused to have supplied Pancho rums to Rum Nation. Mr. Rossi bought the Pancho rums from a bulk trader which supplied with it a certificate which stated, that the rums were indeed Pancho-rums.

The result was a long dispute between Camp Rossi and Camp Pancho. During the Berlin Rum Fest 2015 they finally got a chance to meet up and talk things over. The result was an agreement to not agree on the matter.

Rossi claimed that the certificates should be enough to allow him to inform buyers, that they were buying a Pancho rum. Pancho on the other hand claimed that he couldn’t be certain that his rums had remained untampered while in the possession of the bulk trader, and therefore refused to acknowledge that the rums were still Pancho rums.

Being an Italian Mr. Rossi didn’t take that too lightly and decided to stop using Pancho rums for his Panamanian bottlings.

Enter Varela Hermanos. The legendary family behind the Abuelo products.
And this 10 year old is the first Rum Nation Abuelo.

It was made on a column still at the Varela estate, before being laid to rest in ex-bourbon American oak barrels for 10 years and then bottled at 40% ABV.

The bottle states ”limited edition” which is somewhat of a half truth, with more than 9.000 bottles made. Yes, it is probably limited according to the definition of the word. But considering how long  9.000 bottles will take to sell on the european market, I suspect to be able to source this bottle for quite some time.

I have a lab report in my possession which states that sugar has been added to the extent of 18,1 g/L of rum, and that the combined dry extract sums up to 20 g/L, which means that only 2 g/L are unaccounted for. This could very well be wood extracts, caramel colouring or perhaps something else.

Nothing new here.

The usual black box with two open sides, which I immediately archived in the bin.

The stubby, clean bottle with the usual cork and dark wooden stopper.

The label in the same style as the other Rum Nation offerings. A huge stamp, the Rum Nation branding and the coloured part which identifies this particular rum.

This time with a dark blue ribbon and the information, that we are dealing with a limited edition.

Nice brown colour with an orange hue.

When twirled it leaves a thick layer of residue on the inside of the glass hinting a viscous nature.

From the get go, you are bombarded with heavy, dominating vanilla, syrup and lemon/lime.

Fruity bubblegum keeps popping up in my head. And that is basically it for the first couple of seconds.

After that an underlying layer full of oaks, cigar smoke, honey and orange peel, a long with a touch of milk chocolate, starts to ascend.

Pretty straight forward. Perhaps a bit too perfumed on the vanilla. It reminds me quite a lot of the Angostura 1919, without being quite as aggressively perfumed.

What a surprise. It seems that the profile has been turned upside down.

From the start you get good oaks, a quite heavy sweetness, a blast of cigar smoke and orange zest.

The syrup isn’t far behind, and takes over the entire scene pretty quickly.

The vanilla and bubblegum is then brought forward, but luckily they doesn’t play as dominating a role, as they did on the nose.

There is a slight tannic bite, which seems a bit out of place.

The overall balance is a bit off, and the rum feels layered instead of well integrated.

It isn’t that long lived and dies off pretty fast.

It doesn’t give off much warmth as it goes down, and there isn’t much tickling from any spices what so ever. Just sweetness, a little tannic bite and a bit of smoke.

The sweetness doesn’t stick a round for too long, and it cleans it self up very nicely.

Not the most interesting finish.

Rating and final thoughts
Being a Rum Nation rum, I’m actually a bit disappointed by the Panama 10. Even the cheaper offerings are usually quite great and shows off a good effort.

This one somehow just feels a bit subpar.

There is no doubt that this is comes from Varela Hermanos when I compare this to the Abuelo Centuria. There is a lot of common denominators. But there is no doubt that the Centuria is a more refined products.

If you prefer the sweet stuff, this one is right up your alley.

It offers plenty sweetness and not very much muscle. It goes down very quietly and you can down a lot of shots of it without getting fed up. You might get drunk, but that’s not always a bad thing.

Value for money is quite good, but retailing for around €35, there are a lot of options out there.

Personally I would choose the Rum Nation Peruano 8 over this Panamanian any day. For me, the Peruano still stands as one of the absolutely best rums in this price range, if you want it sweet. The Peruano even offers a slightly higher ABV for some added edge and oomph.

If you want your rums a bit more transparent and sugar free, there is a boat load of Foursquares in this price range as well, along with the Appleton 12.

The ultra sweet best seller DiploResEx is also found at the same price point a long with the equally sweet El Dorado 15, making a strong field of competitors even stronger.

I fear that the Panama 10 might be in over its head and have a very hard time outmaneuvering the massive competition.

Overall it is not a bad rum, but it’s not a great one either.

If offers something similar to many other sweetened rum out there. But the marginally less sweet approach and the lack of stickiness earns it a slight edge over many of the more popular ones.

Therefore it clocks in at a…

Rating: 69/100


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