Flor de Caña, the top rum brand out of Nicaragua, offers a wide range of bottlings, from the Extra Seco and Añejo Oro, both aged 4 years, on up to 12, 18, and 25 year-aged ultra-premiums, among the finest anywhere. As a treat to mark National Rum Day, I got my hands on a Flor de Caña 7 Years Gran Reserva, sort of in the sweet spot in the middle of the pack.
The Gran Reserva is a lovely rum to enjoy neat or on a rock. On the nose, there’s just a slight alcohol layer, with rich vanilla extract overtones. On the palate, the rum has a modest complexity, with fresh sugar cane prominent, and a lasting toastiness on the finish. You could close your eyes and imagine you were snacking on an excellent coconut macaroon. The deep mahogany color stays around even with a splash of club soda.
The brand traces its origins back to 1875, when a young adventurer named Francisco Pellas Canessa left Genoa, Italy, ending up in the northwest corner of Nicaragua. In the rugged landscape at the base of the San Cristobal volcano, in 1890, Flor de Caña was born. Production continues there under the supervision of the fifth family generation.
The operation takes advantage of the tropical climate, maturing its juice in a higher temperature and humidity than many other spirits. The high evaporation rate from the white oak ex-bourbon barrels (sealed, they say, with plantain leaves) is worth it for the depth of flavor they achieve.
I found the balanced but richly flavorful Gran Reserva to show itself best in cocktails—I had a small group raving about a batch of Dark ’n’ Stormies in the backyard. It worked beautifully in a rum Manhattan, my favorite of the experiments, but given the dog days of summer, let us suggest also what the brand recommends—the Ultimate Mojito:
Flor de Caña Ultimate Mojito
2 parts Flor de Caña 7
1/2 part lime juice
1/3 part superfine sugar
3 leaves mint
Method: Muddle lime juice with sugar in a Collins glass. Add mint leaves and muddle again. Fill glass 2/3 full with crushed ice and add rum. Top off with a champagne float. Garnish with sprig of mint.