By Alexander Britell
Panama has long flown under the radar as a rum power, something that has begun to change in recent years thanks to marques like Don Pancho (the brainchild of former Havana Club blender Don Pancho Fernandez) and Ron Abuelo, the latter the country’s flagship brand.
The country has typically produced fuller-bodied dark rums typically joined together by a unique, somewhat dry finish.
It’s that, let’s call “unique” finish, that has been, to me, the achilles heel for some top-level Panamian rums — and something that seems to have been answered directly by a new release from Abuelo.
Its called the Finish Collection, and it includes a portfolio of three expressions, each taking rums aged in oak casks and finishing them in either former sherry, cognac or tawny port casks.
The result is the classic, robust Ron Abuelo with a very different finish.
And it’s rather good.
I tried the Tawny Port Cask Finish, a dark amber rum with an aroma marked by a strong note of caramel, revealing a whisper of black cherry and candied fruit and a hint of oak.
The flavor profile has a hint of spice, enveloped by notes of dark chocolate, candied fruit, brown sugar, vanilla and, not unsurprisingly, a strong note of port wine. As you sip, you can begin to rediscover that classic dry Panamanian finish — but it becomes a small note in the symphony.
This is a very tasty, sweet rum that has the character you expect from Abuelo with a rounded, velvety finish. It also makes for a terrific digestif.
Rum Journal Rating: 92 points.
— Alexander Britell, who founded Rum Journal in 2012, is one of the world’s top experts on Caribbean rum.