Zafra Master Reserve

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$$ — 40% ABV — 21 years

Master blender Francisco Fernandez is a former director from Havana Club so one might expect Zafra to be a very mild and light rum in the style of Cuba. Instead, the packaging is far more telling: Zafra boasts being "matured in selected Bourbon casks" and this is clearly evident. This is by far one of the more whiskey-like rums to come to market.

Some might call this a pitfall, and no doubt people looking to enjoy the whisky craze will buy whisky, but the spirits categories have borrowed from each other for so long, it's become hard to know who owes whom. That's part of the excitement of the rum category: it's probably one of the most adaptable spirits, especially Spanish rum.

The maple-fruit flavor of Zafra marries with the cinnamon-vanilla flavor of the barrel makes this rum like some daydream crossroads between Jefferson's Bourbon and Highland Park Scotch. Rather cheap for over two decades of maturation, it might be smartest to pick up a bottle or two of Zafra before it disappears.

Fernandez is also responsible for the popular white rum Caña Brava, which more closely mimics his work in Cuba. While Brava is intended to be a daiquiri rum, Zafra is designed for sipping — though it too can fashion a very good daiquiri. Truthfully, any good rum ought to be able to make a good daiquiri. It's the old fashioned of rums ... despite the fact that rum old fashioneds totally do exist and possibly predated whisky old fashioneds, but that's another post entirely.

Las Cabras is located in Pese, Panamá in Central America. Established in 1919, it is now owned by the 86 Company.

vanilla / cinnamon / maple / orange / brown sugar / dates

vanilla / cinnamon / maple / orange / brown sugar / dates