The XO has become the luxury flagship rum from Zacapa. In this review, you will discover Ron Zacapa XO as I cover the following topics:

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Ron Zacapa XO Overview

  • Distillery: Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala
  • Expression: XO
  • Variety: Solera Rum
  • Region: Guatemala
  • Age: XO
  • Casking: Ex-Bourbon, Oloroso, PX Sherry, Cognac
  • Cask Strength: 40% ABV
  • Pricing:
    • Ron Zacapa XO: $120 / 75cl [Buy Now]
  • Parent: Diageo

If the Ron Zacapa 23, an all-time favourite of cigar and rum lovers worldwide, has become your go-to sip, the XO clearly is the luxury variation, taking things up a notch. Ron Zacapa XO is an excellent choice for all those who would like to add an exclusive bottle to their home bar and spirits selection. 


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Ron Zacapa XO’s Robe

  • Hue: Walnut brown
  • Clarity: Unctuous
  • Viscosity: Oily

Looking at the color of the Ron Zacapa XO, the elegant dark walnut brown offers slightly red hues as well as reflections of purple and burgundy red.

The tears and legs indicate a thick, oily, and rather heavy viscosity.


Ron Zacapa XO’s Nose

  • Notes: Roasted nuts, wood spice, Oloroso sherry
  • Nosefeel: Warming

A rich, earthy aroma marks the beginning of the sipping experience. I sense some dried fruits, suggesting a combination of prunes, figs, and dates. These primary aromas are swiftly accompanied by a gorgeous note of caramelized walnut that very much reminds me of an old Oloroso Sherry. Generally speaking, the Sherry-esque character remains prominent throughout the entire tasting. It offers plenty of intricacy, earth and woody spices, rounded off by a mix of roasted nuts.

However, there is a distinct freshness to the nose as well. I’m reminded of orange peel, elevated by just a drop of fresh lemon, and a rather juicy pink grapefruit note. As contrasting elements, bitter chocolate and pipe tobacco start to emerge. Towards the very back of the nasal expression, a complex Cognac aromatic lends more depth and length.

As a matter of fact, the nose of the Ron Zacapa XO in comparison to the 23 is distinctly more complex.

Ron Zacapa XO’s Palate & Mouthfeel


  • Primary Taste: Rancio
  • Mouthfeel: Oily, rich
  • Opening:  Bitter chocolate, pipe tobacco, nutmeg
  • Heart: Umami, milk chocolate, dates
  • Finish: Long [rancio, earth, leather]

Taking a sip feels like opening up the doors to a whole new world of taste sensation. There’s ample sweetness in the very front. There’s bitterness in the back. There’s abundant spice on the side of the tongue. Furthermore, a lovely saltiness summarizes an ethereal minerality, that adds another layer of complexity, enhancing and elevating the variety of the aromas.

As for the mouthfeel, a warming sensation offers an oily, mouth-coating charme that’s very tantalizing indeed. Spicy nutmeg and smooth milk chocolate make a prominent appearance towards the mid-palate. The next layer brings back the thick marmalade, which I had previously encountered on the nose as well as a warming cinnamon spice.

All in all, the olfactory and gustatory qualities are very much aligned: bitter chocolate, a bit of pipe tobacco, a flavorful melange of espresso crema and dried fruits stand out on the palate as well. This time though, it’s mostly the dates and the prunes that shine.

Towards the finish of every sip, a freshness emerges yet again and perfectly concludes a holistic palate stimulation with dried orange peel, and a whiff of cardamom thrown in there for good measure.

The finish is both mouth-coating and mouth-watering at the same time. You could chew on this rum for an hour, and you’d find new aromatic qualities and taste sensations with every sip.

How To Drink Ron Zacapa XO

As we often state in our reviews, the best way to drink a beverage is the way that you enjoy it the most. However, if you’re not yet sure how to drink Ron Zacapa XO, we are happy to provide you with a few serving suggestions.

I’d personally recommend that you try this XO rum neat. My glass of choice is always a tulip-shaped nosing glass, intensifying and concentrating the aromas towards the nose in a perfect way.

For those who prefer the spirit with a chunk or crystal-clear block of ice, a standard double old-fashioned glass or a large rocks glass would be ideal.

Shop For Zacapa X.O. Online

Ron Zacapa XO Cocktail Suggestions

As mentioned above, Ron Zacapa XO is typically pourned neat. However, we can also suggest the following cocktails with this complex rum:

  1. Rum Old Fashioned
  2. Rum Manhattan
  3. Corn & Oil

Whichever route you decide to take, a rather simple, straightforward drink would be my preferred cocktail choice. It’s all about letting the base spirit shine, instead of overpowering it with too many other components like fresh citrus or other heavy aromatics.

Best Pairings With Ron Zacapa XO


My number #1 pairing with the Zacapa XO is bitter chocolate. It perfectly underlines the sweetness in combination with bitterness, earth and spice. Once you take a bite of the bitter chocolate and let it melt on your tongue, you will see a slight change in the flavor sensation of Ron Zacapa XO. Whilst there’s the aforementioned interplay of richness with a fresh quality of cardamom, cinnamon and dried fruits make another appearance and continuously offer a new dialogue between the rum and the chocolate.

For all the cigar-loving rum aficionados, rest assured,  Zacapa is an all-time favorite of the smoking class, and rightfully so. The XO makes for a most elegant sip to go along with your favorite stick.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a little cautious when pairing high-proof alcohols with cigars, in particular when they spirits are rather old and have been matured in wooden barrels for decades, primarily because of the tannins. There’s some woodiness and spice in the spirit, that can sometimes interfere with the smoking experience.

However, since the Ron Zacapa XO offers plenty of sweetness, a lot of creaminess, and less tannins on the palette, you could pair it with a creamy, mellow smoke. For me personally, a Costa Rican cigar that brings some of those nutty, sweet and mellow tones would be perfect. Try a D8 from Vegas de Santiago.


Overall Experience & Value For Money

As you would expect for a rum that sets you back roughly a hundred bucks, the presentation is stellar. The bottle of Ron Zacapa XO is very distinct with a drop-like silhouette, a graciously looking, ornate golden band around the neck, and a rather sturdy and heavy cork to seal. Needless to say, the box is beautifully designed as well.

Given the price tag, this XO is an occasional rum. One would probably take this from the shelve for special occasions or as a present for family and dear friends. If you would like to add an exclusive bottle to your home bar, the Ron Zacapa XO is a great choice, perfectly suitable as a cigar pairing, with a piece of bitter chocolate, or just by itself.

7 / 8 – Ron Zacapa XO Review Feature image

Closing Thoughts

Whilst the 23 is a great go-to spirit, the XO is a more luxurious rum. There’s more depth to the overall experience on all various levels. What’s interesting to compare side by side, is that the sweetness and the caramelized nuances that are very prominent in the 23 are tamed down with the XO.

I would assume that this is because of the prolonged aging and the impact of the French oak, adding more spice to the nose and taste. There’s different times and places for different styles of beverage.

Shop For Zacapa X.O. Online
"A luxury spirit for the rum loving epicures, perfect when poured nit, to accompany your cigar or in a world-class cocktail."
Bespoke Unit Rating: ★★★★★

Further Reading

Once you’ve finished reading our review, feel free to peruse our wide range of related content such as the following resources:

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