Some rums are made to be poured into a punch bowl over ice, stirred with fruit juices or other mixers, and served in tall glasses that feature tiki figures or tiny parasols sticking out of the top. Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 is not one of those. This Caribbean rum is to be served neat, or on the rocks, as its flavors should not be hidden or disguised.
When New Yorker Riccardo Giuliano wanted to create a premium rum, he decided to collaborate with the Oliver family, who have been making rum for five generations, and founded one of the first distilleries in Cuba. The family has practiced their craft in the Dominican Republic — which features a similar geography and climate — for the past 50 years. Although each bottle is clearly marked as a product of the Dominican Republic, it is also labeled “Cuban formula” reflecting its mixed heritage. But it's actually a New Yorker who created and named the spirit, and designed the package and the logo.
To make Vizcaya, sugar cane juice is pressed, fermented, and distilled in small batches in a process called “methode agricole.” Perhaps we like it so much because it is then aged in oak barrels formerly used to hold bourbon, our favorite spirit. The resulting 80-proof complex rum is extremely smooth, with well integrated alcohol without any harsh bite. There's brown sugar and maple on the nose, and butterscotch on the palate. The aging makes the spirit an attractive mahogany color, and even the bottle is distinctive.
We imagine it would make a fine mojito, but we didn't want to adulterate the rum at all. The one other item we would add: a Cuban soundtrack. Buena Vista Social Club, anyone?