A Beautifully Done Semi Dry Rhum Agricole. A treat to both eye and palette.
Notes: This is a Rhum Agricole which means it was made directly from sugar cane juice and not molasses (otherwise known as Rhum Industrial) and is a much more expensive process than using what is essentally almost an industrial waste product (molasses after sugar extraction). Another way to look at it is the difference between a cognac or brandy and a grappa or marc, one is made from the pressing and fermentation of the raw materials ( in that case grapes) and the fermentation of the leftovers ( in the case of grappa or marc, the skins, stems, seeds and sometime burlap bags)
Rhum Agricole is is quite a bit different from a molasses rum with more cane character and aromatics generally. This particular example is fermented 24-36 hours to a relatively low 4-6 5ABV then distilled in a copper and stainless column still to 72% ABV which still leaves a lot of flavor in the rum. It is then aged in once used bourbon barrels. Made in the French west Indies by a small family owned distillery using traditional methods. They produce a number of rums of different ages including a Unaged Virgin Cane reviewed here.
Appearance: Clear rich Baltic Amber color.On swirling it leaves a very thin coat on the glass with very small droplets forming as the edge line recedes
First Impression: Dried dark fruits and spices. Allspice, grassy cane notes and about half a carribean spice cabinet seem to be in the bouquet in a somehow boisterous and yet restrained way.
Taste: Delicious somewhat off dry entry ( the way rum should be – not some molasses candy syrup like too many other)rums. Allspice,cinnamon, ginger, marzipan, orchids, persimmons, pineapple, grassy cane notes, saddle leather and delicate finish of char, cane, vanilla hints of yenidje tobacco.
Drinks: Given the quality ( and also the price to a limited degree) this is not a rhum to waste on a complex or overly sweet cocktail. Best enjoyed by itself where you can enjoy all its nuances or a simple cocktail where it will not be overly diluted or covered over. Think of it like a beautiful body- naked or simple accents of clothing to highlight it, not some bhurka of cheap mixers to hide it from the eye and palate.
Bottle: A very lovely French glass bottle that bears some resemblance to the American bell shaped apothecary bottle with much more style and graceThe glass is a very clear ( and probably French glass – it has that particular sparkle and clarity). The bottle itself is roughly cylindrical with a nice curved decanter type bottom that contrast the clear glass with the rum fetchingly and a subtitling different shoulder line going to a slightly wider than standard neck both of which make for a comfortable grip and pour. Closure is equally unique and well thought out.The cap is a dark mahogany color impressed with the logo and “Rhum Damoiseau Gaudeloupe” n a burnt orange/sienna color. The cap itself is about one half the standard height with an interrupted rather than continuous thread and a shorter thread on the bottle to match which makes for a faster opening and closing. Altogether a singular almost sensuous package that looks feting on the shelf of either your home or professional bar. It really draws the eye in with t the striking lines and beautiful contents
Other: In keeping with the proper nomenclature I am using the term “Rhum” which denotes a rum of French origin and specifically Rhum Agricoles which is rhum made directly from sugar cane juice in a very specific, regulated, geographic specific and certified way as opposed to the fairly unregulated and woolly way of what the French refer to ( somewhat dismissively) as “Rhum Industiral”
Final Thoughts: For those who have not had an aged Rhum Agricole before I highly recommend this one as a starter or gateway rhum. Nicely dry, complex, yet not too challenging, it is a very pleasant almost seductive rhum to introduce you to the delights and mysteries of a whole other kind of rhum than your usual.While it may seem pricey compared to some other rums, Rhum Agriccole is an expensive and difficult rhum to make with stunning results. Yes you can buy cheepers rums, just like you can buy a cheap wine rather than a good Bordeaux but if you want something excellent pony up the money. It’s still a lot cheaper than a lot of whiskies out there and it is a treasure to be enjoyed.
A relatively straightforward and easy to navigate site with recipes, a 360 degree view of the distillery and some if not a lot of information. Nicely done overall.