Le Domaine de Saint Aubin has existed as a Plantation since 1819 and it takes its name from original owner Pierre de St. Aubin. It is located south of Rivière des Anguilles on the South coast of Mauritius. It’s operation as a sugar growing plantation has continued unabated since it’s inception yet Rhum production came later. How much later I do not know. The plantations location gives rise to a microclimate whose balance of rain and sunshine pairs with the volcanic soil to create ideal conditions for cultivating sugarcane.
The sugarcane, once harvested is immediately transported to the mill where it is pressed to extract the juice. The first press is known as ‘fangourin’ locally and it is this that is used to undergo immediate fermentation. They also employ both batch and continuous methods of distillation.
To be honest, that is about as much information as I can find about the place……so we’ll swiftly move onto the liquid in the bottle.
Saint Aubin History Collection Cuvée Grande Réserve – 40% abv – 3.9 g/l additives
To quote the available information:
With the “History Collection” series, the distillery of Saint Aubin pays tribute to the historical facts that shaped Mauritius.
Limited to 5218 bottles, our Cuvée Grande Réserve commemorates the bicentenary of the conquest of “L’Isle de France” which took place between the 29th November and the 2nd December 1810 in the north of Mauritius.
A few months following the Battle of Grand Port, England had gathered an expeditionary force commanded by Sir John Abercomby. They landed in Cap Malheureux and soon dominated the French forces of the Governor Decaen which were low in number. Following the Treaty of Paris in 1814, Isle de France was given to England and got its name Ile de Maurice, or Mauritius back.
The rear bottle label states 7 years old, which would tally with the indicated 2007 Harvest and 2014 release dates noted on the box. But I have read that there are elements of 10 year old batch distilled Rhum in the blend which according to Lance over at The Lone Caner is 30% batch and 70% continuous. Maturation took place in a combination of both ex-bourbon and French oak casks.
Let’s see what this one offers up.
Nose: Upon initial pour, the single most prominent aroma that comes to the fore is that of a synthetic caramel…..the like of which can be found atop a cheap supermarket creme caramel. I’ll be honest, it takes some shaking. So we power through. An excess of vanilla is broken by ripe red fruits……raspberries, plums and a wealth of hedgerow berries. Red berry packet microwave porridge with a sprinkling of brown sugar. Soft red liquorice. Walnuts and maple syrup. Spiced caramel. There’s a back end of wet wood that still carries that synthetic caramel and maybe the merest hint of chocolate milkshake.
Mouth: The illusion of a robust, oily mouthfeel soon slides off the edge of the tongue to display a complete transition from the nose. Synthetic caramel that brings unpleasant bitterness. Heaps of red berry compote. Dried cranberries. Sweet porridge. Maple syrup on buttery pastry. Icing sugar. Caramel spiked with pre-grated nutmeg and cinnamon powder. Heaps of vanilla. The barrel is disappointingly missing for something that has spent a decent amount of time in French oak and it only shows via a little spice. The finish is of a medium length and brings some of that red liquorice along with a touch of fennel like anise. Caramel bitterness at the death.
In conclusion: It all just feels very muted. Like it wants stretch it’s legs. It wants to have a little more power in the delivery. It wants to to live up to what we know that Mauritius can produce. It wants to be reflective of its surroundings. But it’s sadly bound by the decisions made post process rather than being defined by the process itself and it turns a what could’ve been into a what is certainly not. Its not particularly sweet, the additions have not been used to do that. It’s dull, muted, synthetic and perhaps the most awful thing that a Rum could be, bland. The addition of caramel at such levels that it clearly holds back the olfactory experience whilst making its presence known via synthetic bitterness on the palate coupled with what I’d hazard a guess is a fruit maceration executed with all the subtlety of a brick to the face were two of the worst decisions made in the creation of this product. I’d even be hard pressed to identify it as a cane juice product, which is a crime in itself. A lesson to all that even at this stage, we can all be duped into buying a poor product and proof further that label clarity is required. Unless you enjoy dull, muted, easy going offerings from some of the big South American players, steer clear. Mauritius can (and should) do so much better. The remains of the bottle are free to a good home.
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