Facundo Paraiso XA Rum (40% ABV / 80 proof, $250) – Bacardi doesn’t disclose the complete mix of rums for Paraiso aside from saying “up to 23 years in age” with the ” highest concentration of the oldest and finest rums of the collection”, but with a hand numbered label and a decanter bearing the family seal, we’re confident that this is the rum that Facundo L. Bacardi had to fight the rest of his family so furiously to get released. The rum in Paraiso is blended and then rested in French cognac barrels which previously held XO cognac. Unlike the Eximo and Exquisito, the nose for Paraiso doesn’t scream oak. Instead it’s an unexpectedly subtle nose that requires quite a bit of digging through. Paraiso’s nose is a combination of vanilla, shortbread cookie, ginger, oak, cherry, and marzipan along with milk chocolate, salted caramel, and hazelnut. While both the Eximo and the Equisito have bourbon-like qualities to them, Paraiso does adopt a cognac-like nose where the aromas are very tightly integrated and challenging to single out.
The most noticeable thing about the entry for the Facundo Paraiso rum is the mouth feel. Bacardi has built its business blending together lighter and heavier style rums, and Paraiso is the apex of that blending style with a mouthfeel that’s nothing short of elegant. Where Eximo and Exquisito were quick to show off their oak, Paraiso is as restrained and subtle as its nose. The flavor notes in Paraiso are all so finely tuned to read at the same frequency, it’s like trying to pick out a single voice in a large chorus. The chorus of flavors include creamy milk chocolate, vanilla, marzipan, raisin, cherry, hazelnut, vanilla, salted caramel, and oak. Unlike most spirits we review, Paraiso doesn’t change dramatically from entry through midpalate; it presents itself from the start as a puzzle ready for your palate and brain to unravel, and then gives you time to do just that. Just before the finish, Paraiso does pick up some nice spice and subtle smoky oak, but the underlining sweet and fruit notes shift as well to perfectly balance them out. The finish is long, soft, and just as delightfully subtle as the rest of the flavor experience. We found ourselves still sifting through the flavors long after this rum had left our palates.
Facundo Paraiso Rum is a very special and unique rum that requires your complete attention to really appreciate. It would be quite easy to dismiss Paraiso’s subtle nature and overlook the things that really make it special, which include one of the finest and most exquisite integration of flavors we’ve seen in a rum. Paraiso isn’t just some dressed-up rum aimed at the high end consumer, it’s an absolute love letter from Chairman Facundo L. Bacardi, and Global Master Blender Manny Oliver, to Don Facundo Bacardí Massó. Paraiso is Bacardi in a glass and it sums up the sensibilities and style of this great rum company.