Facundo NEO Silver Rum (40% ABV / 80 proof, $45) – Bacardi’s premium rum collection starts with a white rum that is really a blend of aged rums 1-8 years in age and then charcoal filtered to become clear. Bacardi was a pioneer in charcoal filtering and so it’s no surprise to see them take it to the next level with NEO. The challenge in filtering the color from an aged spirit is maintaining the aromas, flavor, and character from the original spirit. From the nose, it’s clear that Bacardi has worked some real magic on NEO. To make their rums, Bacardi blends two different kinds of distillate: one lower proof, flavor packed spirit called aguadente, and a more neutral, high proof spirit called redistillado (read a more in depth explanation of all this in our Behind The Scenes of Bacardi article). NEO’s nose is as close to smelling pure aguadente as you’ll ever get with a Bacardi Rum.
NEO’s nose has many of the classic molasses-based spirit notes including marshmallow, vanilla, brown sugar, banana, and molasses, but it also has aromas from the aging process including oak, dried apricot, green apple, and black pepper. The entry for NEO is as flavorful as the nose with vanilla, green apple, and almond leading the charge backed by a combination of charred banana, oak, and pepper spice. There’s something almost tequila-like about how NEO’s green apple notes combine with the charred banana. The mouth feel of NEO, at the start, is soft and round which is a nice companion to the slightly sweet flavor notes, but everything changes in the midpalate where things lighten up and dry out considerably. The sweet notes from the entry drop to become supporting elements of the dry pepper and oak spice in the midpalate. The finish is very dry and focused on oak and pepper. NEO’s flavor experience is a complete pendulum swinging wildly from soft and round to spicy and dry. NEO’s swing is almost like a liquid tour through the greatest hits of Bacardi Rum, truly showcasing the complete dimensionality of flavor and style that they offer. No discussion of NEO would be complete without a nod to NEO’s bottle design. The NEO bottle doesn’t look like any rum bottle we’ve ever seen and it’s one of the heaviest bottles of its kind. The bottle also has a metal enclosure which completes the package.
Bacardi has done a fantastic job of delivering a unique silver premium rum that riffs on the classic Bacardi rum flavors in a way that Bacardi fans have never experienced. NEO pushes at the innovation front as an aged but filtered rum, and helps establish some new head space in the silver premium rum category. NEO is the kind of rum that could bridge Bacardi Superior drinkers into exploring a wider range of rum, and begin to help people think of rum as something to sip instead of just tossing into a glass of Coke.