Berry Bros. and Rudd Hampden 17 Year Old 2000 Cask # 27 and Hampden 17 Year Old 2000 Cask # 54 The Whisky Barrel Exclusives

Hampden Estate will be familiar to any readers here as I have written about a few of their Rums. Information can be found here if you fancy a bit of background reading. It’s a place that I would love to visit, to see Rum making steeped in hundreds of years of history.

I want to get right into these bottles as there are two up for review today. Both are bottled by Berry Bros. and Rudd and both are Exclusive to The Whisky Barrel. They are both from a distillation in 2000 which would make them potentially LROK giving them an ester level of 200-400 g/hl AA. Not excessively high….but as we know….elevated ethyl acetate is not the key driver to a good rum. Both of these Rums are available from The Whisky Barrel for just shy of £85 each…..for 17 year old Hampden’s…not too bad.

Berry Bros. and Rudd Hampden 17 Year Old 2000 Cask # 27 The Whisky Barrel Exclusive – 57.2% abv – Pure Single Rum

Bottled at 57.2%, which we assume is cask strength, this release from Cask #27 saw 194 bottles.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Bright astringent ethyl acetate right away. Acidic sweet pineapple. Model glue. Varnish. Fruit is definitely a key facet to this rum with warm banana and a salty citrus oil backing up the pineapple. The sap from freshly sawn cedar…a memory that takes me back to making arrows in the shed at home as a child with my Dad. The freshness of pine mixed with menthol and eucalyptus. Something reminiscent of a new pair of suede trainers. Crazy stuff.

Mouth: Vibrant and sweet entry. It ticks all the relevant boxes. Pineapple. Banana. Tropical fruit leathers. Mango. Interestingly a bit of custard apple. In comes the savoury side of things on the mid palate led by a very well-integrated oak. Dry and peppery with spiced barrel notes. Olives. Brine. Salty crackers. Preserved lemons. Melting plastic makes an appearance. The long finish is spice led with the oak flexing its 17 years influence. Citrus, pineapple, play-dough, heavy acetone all sit in the mix. Quite a bit of peppery heat there too. It keeps your attention till the death. A hint of hazelnut and milk chocolate play off the oak. A lot to enjoy in here.

4.5 / 5

Berry Bros. and Rudd Hampden 17 Year Old 2000 Cask # 54 The Whisky Barrel Exclusive – 58.1% abv – Pure Single Rum

Bottled at 58.1%, which again we assume is cask strength, this release from Cask #54 saw 189 bottles.

Tasting Notes

Nose: I know that technically these are sister barrels…..same marque….same year of distillation….same maturation period….but the initial aromas are very different to barrel #27. Dialled down ethyl acetate and acidity gives way to a more vegetal and wood dominated nose. There’s something dirty like potatoes freshly removed from the ground. The fruit is there, definitely there but it is a background note initially. Warm pineapple upside down cake. Turmeric. Window putty. Fennel seeds. Sticking plasters. Menthol. Vanilla. Pencil shavings. Time allows the varnish and model glue to appear.

Mouth: Warming, sweet and quite refined…it is LROK I suppose. Fruit is here with pineapple, bananas, flamed orange peel. Dried tropical fruit….think mango, papaya and guava. Higher abv than cask #27 but it’s more approachable. Light brine and olives. The oak is a lot heavier in this sip on the mid palate. Far more spice from the wood. Fiery fresh ginger juice, a hint of Scotch bonnet and black pepper. Maybe even some allspice. Celery salt and fresh crunchy fennel. The finish is again….long. It’s far more savoury that the other cask though. Solid oak influence resplendent with all of the barrel spice notes mentioned. If the other cask was vibrant wood, this is a musty, older cask. Wet cardboard. Roasted stock vegetables with dominant celery. Good….but different.

4 / 5

Approachable cask strength Hampdens you say? Both great expressions of non tropically matured Hampdens….specifically the LROK marque. Not as intense as the tropically matured LROK that I have experienced but they’re both very good examples and both warrant a purchase if you have the funds. Cask # 27 is my favourite of the two given the profile consistency from nose to palate, but there is plenty to enjoy from the heavier wood influence on Cask #54.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Rum Tasting of the Century & Hampden Estate Rum Launch

Sometimes in life, things happen that totally blow your mind. I have often looked on with extreme jealousy when I have seen amazing events playing out whilst I’ve been at home on the sofa…..but not this time! You see, I was one of the fortunate few to be invited by Luca Gargano to what was being called “The Rum Tasting of the Century”. This event had been arranged to celebrate the launch of the La Maison and Velier distributed Hampden Estate Rums. Luca also pointed out that these Hampden Estate releases celebrate the end of the colonial era in the Rum world after 265 years as Hampden Estate are bottling their own tropically aged Trelawny Rums. Now being invited to the Four Seasons Hotel to celebrate the launch of the Hampden Rums would’ve been a great experience, but the Rum Tasting of the Century was close on panic attack inducing. Imagine if you will, every toy that you ever wanted as a child, then the joy that spreads over you like a wave of euphoria when you see that ‘Santa has been’…..and he has delivered them all!

When I received the invitation, I also received the list of Rums that we would be tasting during the evening. You often see Rums and think to yourself, “I would love to try even the smallest drop of that”. For me those Rums include Skeldon 1973 & 1978, UF30E 1985, Albion 1983 & 1994, Blairmont 1991, La Bonne Intention 1998, Rhum Clement 1952, Saint James 250th Anniversary, Rhum JM 1987, Harewood House 1780, Barbados 1985, Bally 1929, Enmore 1995, Wray & Nephew 17….and the list goes on! You resign yourself to living in the land of make-believe with some of those Rums, imagine my joy when I saw the invitation and it announced that the Rums we’d be trying were:

Harewood 1780 – Barbados The oldest dated Rum in existence

Saint James 1885 – Martinique One of the oldest Rums ever sold

Bally 1924 – Martinique The first vintage in the Rhum Agricole world

Skeldon 1978 – Guyana A legendary bottling from Velier

Hampden Estate – Jamaica The new aged releases from one of the best distilleries in the world

We assembled in the beautifully decorated bar at The Four Seasons Hotel at Ten Trinity Square. Anticipation built and I was able to meet up again with old Rum friends in Wes Burgin, Peter Holland, Tatu Kaarlas, John Gibbons and Matt Pietrek and I also had a first face to face meeting with old Rum friends in Lance Surujbaly and Gregers Nielsen. We briefly spoke to Luca before being ushered into a private lift up to Apartment 17 on the 7th floor. We milled around next to the bar surrounded by members of the press from such publications and The New York Times, Le Monde and Imbibe. I had the opportunity to chat with Andrew Hussey of Everglade Farms Ltd, owners of Hampden Estate and the Long Pond Sugar Factory. We were then ushered into a large room at the end of the corridor, sliding glass partitions  to two elevations affording beautiful early evening views of Tower Bridge, The Tower of London, The Gherkin and the Shard. Sadly I only took a photograph after dark….but still…what a view

We also had our first view (and touch) of the amazing line up of bottles that we would be tasting…….Rum making spanning four centuries

We sat in our predefined places and awaiting the evenings events.

There was a beautiful introduction to the evening and a really passionate speech from Luca about the gathering and his delight at the new Hampden releases. We also received a detailed description of the Rums that we would be tasting and why they are special his opinion. The anticipation that had been built was clear for all to see as the tasting began.

The Rum Tasting of the Century

I managed to take tasting notes for each of the Rums and given the brief time with them I will present my notes as written with no elaboration. Purely first impressions.

Harewood House 1780 – Barbados – circa 69% abv (Light)

Sukhinder Singh of The Whisky Exchange was given the honour of opening the bottle. This was quite possibly one of the most amazing things that I have experienced in my Rum life. As you will hear in the video, there were approaching three dozen bottles found at Harewood House (you can read more here), some were full, some part full. The Rum was decanted, checked and re-bottled in the existing bottles, re-corked and wax sealed. There were 28 bottles released to auction in two batches. You can view the bottle opening video below:

Tasting Notes

Nose: Pears. Quite Acidic. Clean. Very little wood influence. Putty. Grape. Very astringent.

Mouth: Very dry. Way more barrel influence. Fortified wine. Crisp apple / pear. Tobacco notes. Fino sherry at back-end. Earthy. Dirt / Soil. Chewy.

This was quite the thing to try. To be nosing and tasting a Rum distilled over 238 years ago. To nose the Rum, you would have said that it was a cane juice distillate. I didn’t feel like it had much age on it. Maybe just the age that it gained on the journey from Barbados to the UK. The fortified wine notes could also be down to the barrels that it was transported in. Richard Seale often talks about Rums traditionally being transported in the barrels that had just delivered Port and Madeira with ex-bourbon being a modern practice. I also spoke to Richard regarding the cane juice feel of the Rum and he advised that in those days the Rums had cane juice from skimmings from ‘rum canes’ that had low sucrose content. The molasses would’ve also been very dilute which would have led to a less distinct caramelised molasses flavour. This was well and truly the experience of a lifetime. Amazingly, re-visiting the empty glass, any hint of the Rum has been replaced by  a very weak window putty aroma. This puts to bed the notion that the rum of the past was a horrific concoction.

Saint James 1885 – Martinique 

Tasting Notes

Nose: 100% Demerara nose. Dates. Walnuts. PX sweetness. Bitter raisins. Cream. Heavy. Thick. Coconut. Cough Medicine. Herbal Tablets. Lion Ointment.

Mouth: Medicinal. Emulsion paint. Ralgex vapours. Agricole oak notes. French oak. Molasses. Fruit cake. Treacle toffee.

This had by far my favourite nose of the night. In fact, blind tasted you would swear the Saint James was Demerara Rum and the Harewood House was a light cane juice Rum.

Rhum J. Bally 1924 – Martinique – 45% abv

Tasting Notes

Nose: Crisp ripe pears. Tinned pears. Astringent. Acetone. Pear drops. Clearly agricole. Real depth. Foam bananas.

Mouth: Very obvious French oak. Very dry. Really fruity. Celery.

The Bally 1924 was an absolute delight. One of my favourites from the evening.

Skeldon 1978 – Guyana – 60.4% abv

Tasting Notes

Nose: Raisins. Liquorice. Dates. Rose water. Fruit cake. PX sherry. Honey. Walnuts. Prunes. Stone fruit. Victoria plums. Uncut tobacco.

Mouth: Warm fruit compote. Christmas pudding. Cough sweets. Treacle. Walnuts. Walnut and Date cake.

Beautiful stuff.

Next up we tried the new Hampden Estate pairing but I will be covering these in a separate review at a later date.

We were also very fortunate in the fact that we were able to try both Unaged and Tropically aged Hampden DOK marque. The unaged was so unbelievably pungent and fruity, the aged was more approachable yet still an absolute bruiser.

We cleared the tables and chatted over a few glasses of Hampden as the meal was prepared and served. The food was unbelievably beautiful and the meal was concluded with Baba au Rhum utilising the new Hampden Estate 46%. What an amazingly beautifully presented and tasty treat. We also added a little unaged DOK to one of the Baba au Rhum…..Crazy stuff.

We then relaxed on the terrace as Luca enthused us with passionate talk of Hampden Estate, the experience of visiting Haiti and his Distillerie de Port-au-Prince. Locations that one day I really hope to be fortunate enough to visit. Following more chat inside about the fascinating new Velier Long Pond bottlings, we retired to the Four Seasons Hotel bar. Over two bottles of Hampden we continued to talk into the night as the group of 7 became 4. We eventually saw our rooms at around 5am. What happens in the hotel bar, stays in the hotel bar.

I’m still in a daze about the event. It is one of those rare moments in time where everything falls into place and there is nowhere else that you’d rather be. Its all still a little ‘pinch yourself’. By far the greatest experience of the evening was to be present at the opening of a bottle of the Harewood House Rum. I honestly can never see that being bettered as a Rum experience. The outstanding nose of the evening was definitely the Saint James 1885 though sadly the palate did not match the excellent nose. Stand outs for me were the Bally 1924 and the Skeldon 1978. I’d find it hard to separate those two at the top of my list. The location, the people, the Rum and the event played out absolutely perfectly and I am so immensely grateful to Luca Gargano and La Maison & Velier for giving me the opportunity to be present. It was a dream come true. This Rum Tasting of the Century will live long in the memory of all attendees and will go down in the annals of Rum Tasting History.

To quote Luca, I am very very happy

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

La Confrérie Du Rhum – La Mauny Millésime 2005

La Confrérie du Rhum began as a Facebook group created in March 2013 that developed into a platform to enable spirit professionals, bartenders, producers and everyday enthusiasts like you and me to come together and talk about their shared interest: Rhum. Since the beginning of 2015, a number of special vintages have been chosen for release by the guys heading up the group La Confrérie Du Rhum and this time it is the turn of Maison La Mauny to provide the liquid. They do so in the form of a 2005 vintage Extra Vieux Rhum Agricole that has seen a full 11 years in French Oak that proudly carries the Martinique A.O.C (appellation d’origine controlee) marque. It is released at 49.7% abv and the release is limited to just 1000 bottles priced at €90.

La Confrérie Du Rhum La Mauny Millésime 2005 – 49.7% abv

Tasting Notes

Glass: A deep, dark coppery red greets you when you pour the Rhum into the glass. It has the unmistakable aroma of a well aged spirit. Given that it’s almost 50% abv, there is nothing particularly aggressive jumping out of the glass. On the contrary, this Rhum has a well-rounded fruity nose. There is a hint of marzipan combining with ripe dark berry fruits and this combination is reminiscent of a jammy Bakewell tart. The nose develops into stewed dark fruits and begins to allow nutty and leathery notes to come to the fore. Further time sees the development of a light cocoa and an ever developing oak influence. Time in the glass uncovers layers of complexity in this Rhum which lets not forget, has seen 11 years of age in the tropical climate of Martinique. This is an island that I have read has a climate that leads to one of the greatest losses to evaporation. There was potentially the chance that this length of time could have been too excessive, but to my surprise the years have been very kind.

Mouth: An intensely dry entry sucks that moisture from every corner of your mouth. There is a lightly acidic quality and a very prominent bittersweet tang that reminds me of the bottle of Umeshu Plum Sake that I have chilling in the fridge. A second wave of stone fruits and a chewy homemade blackberry jam follows. The oak influence starts to creep back into the experience with a charred, almost toasted note coming to the fore. The long finish begins with a growing menthol eucalyptus note and further develops into drying oak shavings and a peppery, celery quality.

There are layers upon layers of complexity within this Rhum and it deserves time and patience far in excess of what this small taster allows. Benoît and Jerry really know how to pick their special releases as for me, they have delivered on all of the previous releases that I’ve purchased. This one will be no exception…..when it comes back into stock that is….

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Saint James Rum 250th Anniversary

*Press Release*

SJ-Logo250-Pantone+or

SAINT JAMES RUM MARKS 250th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS IN STYLE THIS JULY

SAINT JAMES - Cuvée 1765 (ambiance)

Saint James Rum is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year with a special commemorative bottling, a host of festivities on its home island of Martinique, and a worldwide marketing campaign.

Saint James Rum is one of the oldest rum brands, with the plantations first producing rum in 1765. From the outset the brand was a pioneer in its category, being the first rum to create vintage specific blends, and designing an innovative square bottle in order to maximise storage and minimise breakage on the long sea-voyages to its original export markets.

Today the iconic Rhum Agricole is still produced in Martinique, which has the only rum AOC (appellation controllée) in the world, and more precisely in Sainte-Marie, on the East coast of the island. Saint James Rum is and has always been committed to quality, heritage, innovation and traditional expertise. The special Saint James Cuvée 1765, a blend created in homage to the original 1765 style, is the epitome of the quality of the products it offers. The brand is also at the forefront of the new mixology trend and has recently developed links with key stars in this field including top mixologist and barman, Stephen Martin.

SAINT JAMES - Cuvée 1765The week of 6-12 July, which traditionally marks the end of the sugar harvest, is set to be a key moment during the 250th anniversary celebrations in Martinique. “The programme includes visits around the distillery; masterclasses and tastings; and a live show culminating in the release of a commemorative limited edition: an ultra-premium blend of six of the best Saint James vintages, presented in a luxurious glass flagon with embossed metal neck,” comments Nadège Perrot, international Saint James brand manager. To pay full tribute to Saint James rich history, other festivities will be taking place across the world including an anniversary party in Paris, multi-media advertising campaigns and outstanding point-of-sale promotions. This milestone anniversary will make 2015 a Saint James year!

*End*

Whilst we won’t be fortunate enough to join in with the festivities in Martinique of Paris, we have been fortunate enough to get our grubby little fingers on a bottle of the Saint James Cuvée 1765 and cannot wait to try it. We use the Saint James Royal Ambre as part of our bespoke 7 Rum Mai Tai blend so are looking forward to tasting a release created to pay homage to the original 1765 style!

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Rhum St Barth

rstbarth-©debeauchene_tonneauxSaint-Barthélemy, or St Barths as it is more commonly known in English is around 22 miles southeast of St Martin and north of St Kitts. For many years St Barths was a French commune forming a part of Guadeloupe. In 2003 St Barths voted in favour of secession from Guadeloupe so as to form a separate overseas collectivity of France. This makes it one of the four territories amongst the Leeward Islands in the northeastern Caribbean that comprise the French West Indies. The other three are Saint Martin, Martinique and Guadeloupe.

With St Barths not really being really suitable for the growth of sugarcane, accompanied by the fact that there are no distilleries on the Island, Rhum St Barth turns to Guadeloupe for assistance in the realisation of its St Barths inspired dream. On Guadeloupe the sugarcane season runs from February to July with the cane being at its richest and finest between the months of March and April….this is when the cane is harvested as it is at its most mature just before flowering. This procedure is mostly a manual one and once cut the cane is transported in preparation for the first part of the process….crushing. This crushing is the vital first stage in the process as it breaks open the cane fibres to aid juice extraction. The second stage is pressing. This releases the juice or ‘vesou’ which is then filtered before being placed into open fermentation vats.

Fermentation is an open air process and it begins within 60 minutes of the cane being pressed. The open air environment encourages the natural yeasts already present to begin the conversion of the sugars into alcohol. The fermentation period last for around 24-48 hours dependent upon the temperature. Following fermentation the wine which is around 4 to 6% abv is column distilled. Around 10 litres of wine are required to produce 1 litre of rhum. The Rhum is taken off the still at an abv of between 60 to 70%.

Rhum St Barth Cool – 50% abv

This Rhum is immediately transferred into stainless steel vats post distillation. Its abv is gradually reduced to 50% with the addition of water over a 12 month period. Around 23,000 bottles of this Rhum are produced per year.

RSB Cool

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The first thing that grabs you are the oily citrus peel aromas that leap out of the glass. There is also a creamy, vegetal aroma. Fresh sugarcane is also present and the one thing that astonishes is the lack of any real sting from the alcohol. It’s all very calm. Maybe that’s the resting time, I’m not sure. There is no doubt that it is a bit of a heavy hitter in the punchy aroma department but it also displays pleasant floral notes, a little olive brine and right at the end, a little plasticine aroma. Pungent is a word that I’d definitely use. So far so good.

In the mouth: Right away there is a little peppery bite though I had braced myself for a smack in the face that never materialised. There is the slightest touch of sweetness coming from the citrus peel hints and the mouthfeel is very creamy. Next to show up to the party in my mouth is the olive brine along with a strange flavour, one that I sat and contemplated for a while and one that may sound silly….but on our recent trip to Paris we brought back some white asparagus…..I’m getting hints of that in this Rhum! The finish on this one is very fresh and green, is on the shortish side but is resplendent with notes of liquorice and celery.

Clearly a ‘Ti Punch (or several) was (were) made…in fact on the morning of compiling this article I enjoyed a slightly belated ‘take off’. The lack of real sweetness in the Rhum allows it to take a little more sugar but the citrus peel really encourages the best from the added lime. I always (though it may be frowned upon) drop an ice-cube into the drink to help chill and dilute if the abv is 50% or above. It makes a splendid drink. I’ve also tried it in a daiquiri and its punch works well. Orange bitters also add a another dimension to a Cool Daiquiri.

Rhum St Barth Chic – 40% abv

Following on from the same process as the Cool, this Rhum is aged for a period of four years in small (200-600 litre) re-charred ex-bourbon barrels prior to reduction to its bottling strength of 40% abv. The production of this Rhum is limited to 5000 bottles per year.

RSB Chic

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rhum is a beautiful dark copper and its sugarcane aroma is immediately detectable but it dulled somewhat by vanilla. There is also a little astringency up front on the nose that is a little sherry or wine like. Oak is apparent and it represents a calmer proposition than its unaged relative. Whilst I think that there is less going on in the glass as far as aromas are concerned there is a little cocoa powder and also strangely something that resembles Cola Cube sweets. It bodes well for tasting.

In the mouth: There is no real sweetness to speak of on entry but it displays that warming agricole character, albeit wrapped up in oak and vanilla. There is a cheek tingling fruit reminiscent of plums and raisins, so much so that it feels like I wouldn’t be surprised if it had received a different cask finish at some point. It gradually turns into something very bourbon like with cherry and vanilla beginning to come to the fore as you take further sips. The finish is of a medium length and is full of cherry like bourbon notes, drying oak and liquorice torpedo sweets. Impressive stuff.

I have to say that besides an Old Fashioned, my preference for this expression is neat. I dares bet that in the right hands, this would be a killer addition to a cocktail.

It is clear that presentation plays a big part in Rhum St Barths existence. The cork (synthetic in the Cool) is wax dipped and a wax seal is applied to the front of the bottle displaying the logo and the word Gustavia which is the capital of St Barths. Talking of the bottle, the Cool is presented in a short and beautiful frosted glass number with metallic gold wax dipped cork and seal. The Chic is presented in the same bottle but in this instance the glass is clear and the wax dipped cork and seal are burgundy…very classy. Pricing in the past has maybe been problematic as it did exist a long way out of my price bracket for unaged and four-year old products. I was fortunate enough that a mistake on an online site enabled me to pick up my first bottle of Chic for £37 which was a steal. Currently the price sits at around £47 for the Cool and £66 for the Chic due to their limited quantity runs which is still quite a hefty outlay though I have seen both expressions cheaper in the past. Personally I feel that the Cool represents the more interesting expression of the two tried thus far and its character really shines through. It is a hell of a price tag for an unaged product and an agricole hater will not find anything here to change their minds but it is a really well balance expression that is perfectly happy neat and mixed and really does seem to carry with it the essence of its origins. I don’t know of your individual financial situations and only you will be able to know whether a bottle of one or of each sits well with your perception of value.

I wanted to leave this element to the end as I feel that the product shouldn’t be judged on this aspect as it is more than capable of standing up on its own, and there will be a lot of people who wouldn’t have made it this far if I’d led with this. Rhum St Barth is a luxury brand aiming at a luxury side of the market and its founder is the ex-footballer Mikael Silvestre. He wanted to release a product that reflects the richness, diversity and opulence of the French Caribbean. A product that reminds him of childhood memories of Caribbean holidays. Following his retirement he spent a decade on St Barths with his family and he feels that the Rhum St Barth range is a perfect representation of both of these differing periods of his life. I genuinely feel that his intentions are good and that he has a quality product with excellent presentation…..the Rhum drinker in me loves the product and presentation…..I only wish that the pricing could make it more accessible……but then is that not the point of luxury?

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

La Confrérie du Rhum Cuvée Anniversaire

Rhum ArrangeLa Confrérie du Rhum is a Facebook Group created in March 2013 that already has over 5000 members! Professionals and Rum lovers use it to talk about and share their common passion about Rum and sugarcane distillates. I use it to stare at pictures as my grasp of French is not the best!

For its second birthday, the administrators decided to bring out a Cuvée Anniversaire and teamed up with Cédric Brément, the famous French rhum arrangé producer of Les Ti’arrangés de Céd to produce it. On March 28th, this new bottling will be released in a limited edition of 500 bottles for sale at the Christian de Montaguère store in Paris. During this anniversary event the administrators of the group and the producer of this special bottling will release the Cuvée Anniversaire Ananas Victoria (Label Rouge) – Sauternes Finish Single Cask.

This infused Rhum uses a white AOC Rhum from Martinique as its starting point. This has been aged for 8 months in Sauternes Casks (Sauternes is a French sweet wine from the Sauternais region of the Graves section in Bordeaux) prior to being infused with red labelled Victoria Pineapples from Réunion Island. These red labelled Victoria Pineapples are rare, of a high quality and are cultivated and chosen in a very selective way. The standard of this variety of Pineapple is very high in terms of its cultivation and final product.

The 700ml bottle of this Cuvée (32% abv) is presented with a white and gold label containing the group logo. This bottling is an exclusive only available for purchase at the Christian de Montaguère store in Paris (20, Rue de L’abbé Grégoire, 75006, Paris) priced at 32 Euros from 28th March.

Cuvée Anniversaire Ananas Victoria (Label Rouge) – Sauternes Finish Single Cask – 32% ABV

CED CONFRÉRIE RHUM 050315

In the glass: The Rhum is a pales straw colour in the glass and its agricole base is hugely apparent. You get that vegetal punch in the face straight away but it is tempered by the lower abv and the raisin sweetness that billows over the top of the glass. This is all accompanied by a huge dose of pineapple which is sublime. I can’t help longing for summer!

In the mouth: It has an all encompassing mouthfeel full of sweet pineapple and raisins followed up by the green agricole quality. There is an earthy character too. It is warming, refreshing, sweet and now its gone! I would love to try this with a touch of ice on a hot day…its beautiful stuff.

I’m a huge fan of pineapple anything so this was always going to be a hit with me, and as my first try of a rhum arrangé the experience has been massively positive. I’m fortunate enough to have planned a short break in Paris at the end of April / early May, so obviously visiting the Christian de Montaguère store is a given as we are staying close by and I’m hopeful that I can pick up a bottle (or two) as this is very tasty stuff.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

St. Aubin Rhum Agricole

St Aubin BottleRounding out my Mauritian Rum collection is a Rhum Agricole. In fact this is the first Rhum Agricole that has been presented on my blog….something that I hope to rectify very shortly. Once again, refreshing yourself on my previous post on Green Island Rum may be beneficial.

Rhum Agricole is made from the fermented juice of freshly squeezed sugarcane. As fresh sugarcane juice suffers oxidation, fermentation needs to begin as soon as possible therefore the place of juice extraction is usually located at or very close to the distillery to expedite this process.

Due to the nature of the raw material (sugarcane juice rather than molasses), the rhum agricole is usually only distilled to around 70% alcohol unlike molasses based rums. This allows the character and influence of the growing environment (the terroir) to be displayed in the final product. The techniques employed and base material used to create rhum agricole gives it an entirely different flavour profile to a molasses based rum.

St. Aubin has been as sugar plantation since 1819 but in comparison has only recently begun making rhum. It is located in Southern Mauritius and takes its name from one of the original owners, Pierre de Saint Aubin. The location of the plantation brings its own unique qualities as the balance of rainfall and sunshine hours give rise to a micro climate that exists in the region of the plantation. The volcanic nature of the soil and the micro climate combine to make the terroir more than suitable for producing sugarcane.

The sugarcane is immediately sent to the mill where it is slowly pressed to extract the sugarcane juice. It is only this first press of juice, known as ‘fangourin’ in Mauritian, that is used. This juice undergoes immediate fermentation to create the ‘wine’. This is then distilled in an alembic still. This St. Aubin Rhum Agricole is an unaged product.

The rhum is very clear in the bottle and sits at a higher 50% ABV and I’m unsure what to expect as I’ve only tasted Rhum Vieux or Old Rhum (aged for a minimum of 3 years) previously but I cant wait to see how it tastes….

Tasting Notes:

St Aubin Close

In the glass: The rhum is crystal clear in the glass and there is a little alcohol vapour that I leave to dissipate. There is a raw sugarcane aroma sitting with the alcohol vapour with grassy, herbal and vegetal notes all nestling alongside a sweetness.

In the mouth: There is a spicy and peppery entry for the rhum with a little sweetness but that sweetness doesn’t stick around for long. A little vanilla and pepper follows. It is very smooth as it sits in your mouth and it certainly doesn’t feel like its 50% ABV. Fresh sugarcane washes the rhum down to leave a fresh sweetening finish with little to no burn. I always prefer the taste of agricole to the smell of agricole and this yet again confirms that for me.

Ti PunchOf course, the drink that shows an unaged agricole off (although it is also made with vieux) is the classic ‘Ti Punch. My Potteries accent doesn’t really allow me to pronounce the name of the drink too well but the pronunciation is more like ‘tee paunch’ and is Creole for ‘Petit Punch’ or ‘Small Punch’. It comprises a little lime juice and wedge, sugar syrup and a measure and a bit of agricole. I haven’t really ever quantified it. I just start with a little lime and syrup then add to taste. I usually add an ice cube and let the drink sit and settle for a few minutes. There are few things more refreshing. It’s sweet, fresh and satisfying. Its the simple drinks that show off a product to its best and it is the same combination whether a ‘Ti Punch for Agricole, a Daiquiri for Rum or a Caipirinha for Cachaça. Simple ingredients that put the sugarcane product up front and allow it to be the star of the show.

St Aubin Rhum Agricole is a good example of this style of sugarcane product and it is most definitely worth picking up a bottle. It sits proudly on the shelf with my Clement V.S.O.P from Martinique and my Damoiseau Vieux from Guadeloupe.

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