Published: June 2009
By Ray Isle
Slowly—rum producers might even say glacially—top-end sipping rums are finally getting the respect they deserve in the States. It’s about time. The best rums are just as complex and satisfying as great single malts, and they run about a third of the price. Skeptics should check out Ron Zacapa 23 ($45, diageo.com), which is being imported to the U.S. once again after a bleak (for rum lovers, at least) dry spell.
Fans of Zacapa 23 claim there’s no better sipping rum, and one taste shows you why: Honeyed and luscious, with fig, date and vanilla notes, it has a mellow richness that’s so good it’s almost hypnotic. Made from only the first pressing of sugarcane, it’s aged in a combination of bourbon, sherry and Pedro Ximénez wine casks in a Guatemalan valley eight thousand feet above sea level (that higher altitude provides much steadier day-to-day temperatures). Each bottle is then wrapped in a handmade band of dried palm leaves and shipped out—arriving, conveniently, at venues like TPC Sawgrass, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, as well as at the Kierland Golf Club at the Westin Kierland in Scottsdale, Arizona.