Flor de Caña V Generaciones: Extremely Limited 30-Year-Old Single Barrel Rum
by Ken Gargett
On hearing that I would be tasting the elusive (and expensive) Flor de Caña V Generaciones, a 30-year-old single barrel rum, a friend from the United States got in touch. He works with the local distributors and he was excited to see that rum lovers around the globe were finally getting to taste such a rare and exceptional rum.
And he was keen to know what I would think of a $1,200 rum. We probably should not focus on the price before looking at the rum, but for a rum it is such serious money that it becomes inevitable. We’ll get to the rum soon enough!
My first thought was that perhaps he was getting friendly rates as – as far as I could ascertain – it was actually $1,600 a bottle. Before you start spluttering at that outrage, and granted a small currency discrepancy, down under in Australia we are paying AUD$2,500 a bottle (or perhaps the $1,600 was Canada – it is not easy to keep track). Then compare it to what you pay for top cognacs and old malts. Bargain!
And first you have to find a bottle. Only ten arrived in Australia, and they were all pre-allocated to the finest restaurants and establishments. When a bottle was cracked for our tasting, the first question was, “does this mean that there are only nine left?”
No, this was an extra. I’m told Canada’s allocation was a whopping 46 bottles, almost as much as for the entire USA. In all, the total production is a mere 411 bottles.
In all honesty, I did not anticipate writing anything on Flor de Caña for Q&P for quite some time. It is not that long ago I covered the wonderful 25-Year-Old, and you can find out much more about the company in that piece – little point in rehashing (I’m not paid by the word!!).
Suffice to say that Flor de Caña has received far more than its share of awards for great rums, both for charitable works and sustainability.
It went through a difficult period with worker illness some years ago but has worked hard to rectify that – perhaps not the distillery’s finest moment, but it was hardly an issue affecting only it.
Flor de Caña captures and recycles all emissions of CO2 during the fermentation process and plants 50,000 trees every year to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Finally, its rums are distilled using 100 percent renewable energy. If only all spirit producers took a similar view.
Flor de Caña V Generaciones: influenced by volcano
Does an extra five years make all that much difference? Well, yes. This rum is something special.
For starters, the entire production for all the world comes from a single barrel filled back in 1988. Flor de Caña, a fifth-generation family estate, may well have some of the largest aged rum reserves in the world, but this is something very rare, even for it.
Its release is to celebrate those five generations and the distillery’s 130th anniversary in 2020.
Specially, and quite exquisitely, packaged, the bottle features the signatures of family members from all five generations, the bottle cap is actually made from volcanic rock – volcanoes are a very big deal in Nicaragua – and there is a replica of the 1902 postage stamp, the “volcano stamp,” which changed the course of history.
A little over a century ago, the trip by boat around Cape Horn was not only extremely dangerous, but also added nearly 8,000 miles to every voyage. No wonder there was a serious push for a canal through Central America to alleviate the hazards and shorten the trip. Today, we take it for granted that it is and always was the Panama Canal. It wasn’t so.
Plans to build a canal for ships to cross Nicaragua were first drawn up in 1825 but finally shelved in the late 1800s when America purchased the French interest in the Panama Canal. That rather prosaic declaration was, not surprisingly, not the full story.
The two countries were in close competition to build the canal, knowing the extraordinary economic benefit it would offer the successful nation. The canal would be longer in length in Nicaragua, but it would be a much easier engineering exercise.
Nicaragua made the fatal mistake of issuing a standard, bog-average, one-centavo stamp in the usual manner. The problem was that this particular stamp featured a scenic view of a local volcano, Momotombo, with wisps of smoke emerging from its cone. The people who would make the final decision on the canal were not immune to a little old-fashioned lobbying.
The French representative for the Panama Canal immediately sent every U.S. Senator a copy of the stamp. The inference was not lost: do we really want to build a canal in such an unstable country? One explosion and the canal could be destroyed, lives lost, fortunes desecrated.
A volcanic explosion earlier that year on the island of Martinique, which killed 30,000 people, was still very much top of mind. Panama got the nod, and it was through that country that the Atlantic and Pacific were linked.
How much impact that stamp had will never be known, but until the efforts of the lobbyists Nicaragua had been the firm favorite.
But the rum. Stunning. A blend of honeysuckle and smoke, vanilla, coconut, a whiff of pineapple, hints of toffee and grilled mandarins (I wonder if anyone has ever grilled a mandarin, but if they did this is what the aroma might resemble), but immaculately balanced.
Incredible length. While there is an apparition of sweetness, the amazing balance gives the impression that is neither dry nor sweet. Just absolute dead center. It is, by any standard, one of the finest rums I’ve ever sampled.
If you can’t get hold of one, don’t hesitate to chase the 25-Year-Old, another superb rum.
If the fabulous tarpon fishing is not enough to entice one to Nicaragua then surely this great rum is. You can check for any impending volcanic activity at the local post office.
For more information, please visit www.flordecana.com/vgeneraciones.