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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

March 4, 2018


French white rabb… I mean, rum

That’s the good thing when the raw materials are flavourful, you may enjoy the spirits made thereof even when they’re not aged in wood. But they may be aged in steel, stone or glass, or even aged in wood and then discoloured and/or heavily filtered. Let’s have a few white rhums today, randomly… But only high strength ones!

La Belle Cabresse (50%, OB, French Guyana, +/-2016)

La Belle Cabresse (50%, OB, French Guyana, +/-2016) Three stars
Said to be agricole on the label, so ex-vesou a.k.a. cane juice. What a delicious retro label! (not retro by design, just unchanged over the years). Colour: white. Nose: you would swear you’re nosing crushed olives, except that those olives were crushed quite some time ago. A little fresh glue. Beyond that, some pure, full-flown raw cane-iness. With water (although most people would add pineapple juice instead): more soap than with whisky (normal saponification), then some very nice whiffs of cut herbs, aniseed, fennel, plain grass… Mouth (neat): very good, surprisingly good. Sweeter, totally cane-y, and well, you must have quaffed some fresh cane juice before to be able to recognise it. I can’t quite find any other proper descriptors / analogies just now. With water: many pears, then a little tangerine. Finish: medium, with a wee feeling of saccharine but that’s probably natural. Comments: always thought this baby would be cheap on the palate, because it’s cheap. Not at all.
SGP:562 - 80 points.

Bologne ‘Black Cane 2016’ (50%, OB, Guadeloupe)

Bologne ‘Black Cane 2016’ (50%, OB, Guadeloupe) Two stars and a half
This is a limited edition of a rather rare rhum agricole, as only Bologne keep growing canne noire / black cane on La Guadeloupe. Same story as with malt whisky I suppose, lower yields means breed discarded, generally. Colour: white. Nose: bizarrely, it’s much less olive-y than the Cabresse, less heavy-estery, more refined, and much fruitier. You cannot escape these notes of bananas, papayas, mangos, and then rather caraway, which hints at kummel. With water: aniseed comes out, celery… Mouth (neat): there, it does get a little more phenolic / grassy, but that would rather be capers, perhaps… Other than that’s it’s a tropical fruit salad, with a sugariness. Some hints of fermenting peaches as well. With water: more sugar coming out. Not sure water is necessary here. Finish: medium, a tad too sugary for me. Liquorice allsorts, banana syrup. Comments: very good, but I liked the rawer style of the Guyanese rather better.
SGP:651 - 78 points.

Clément ‘Canne Bleue 2015’ (50%, OB, Martinique, agricole)

Clément ‘Canne Bleue 2015’ (50%, OB, Martinique, agricole) Two stars
No one could miss that this is canne bleue (blue cane). Did you know that sugar cane came in many colours? Colour: white. Nose: rather pears and IPA this time, with an even lighter style overall. Perhaps wee notes of light damp earth. Not very expressive, this blue cane… With water: no changes. Mouth (neat): a little indefinite and sugary, but rather good. Bonbons, pineapple syrup, Jell-O, wine gums… Not sure one should sip this like that… With water: same feelings. Finish: medium, sweetish, a tad spirity. Comments: what’s sure is that the makers have put every effort into the packaging. I thought Clément’s ‘Première Cane’ was much superior (WF 84) back in 2015. And more moderately packaged…
SGP:630 - 70 points.

Oh, I’ve found an older one at 40% vol…

Reimonenq ‘Coeur de Chauffe’ (40%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2005)

Reimonenq ‘Coeur de Chauffe’ (40%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2005)
Usually to be found at 50% vol. but this is well one at 40% vol. Kid’s rhum, in other words (S., shhh!) In my book Reimoneinq can be a little unusual… Colour: white. Nose: a little raw, slightly smoky, and grassy. Whiffs of wood alcohol and cardboard, then linseed oil and paraffin. I suppose no one ever thought somebody would ever try this without any fruit juices, Coke, or a mountain of ice. Mouth: sugar and pineapple syrup, which is a little cloying. Too sweet for me. Finish: medium, much more banana-y, which is much nicer despite the rather heavy sweetness. Comments: feels like someone added some kind of sweet concoction. Not too sure. Are we in Guatemala or Venezuela? DomRep? But listen, modern bottlings at 50% vol. might well be much better… Doesn’t feel agricole at all, might be ‘industriel’. The very idea of a ‘coeur de chauffe’ (heart) sounds a little weird in this context.
SGP:720 - 55 points.

Bielle ‘Canne Grise’ (59%, OB, Marie-Galante, agricole, +/-2016)

Bielle ‘Canne Grise’ (59%, OB, Marie-Galante, agricole, +/-2016) Three stars
And yet another cane colour, grise meaning grey, but with anything Bielle, you know we’re starting to talk… Colour: white. Nose: glue, asparagus, olives, nail polish, grass smoke (I mean, lawn grass), marzipan, ink. What’s not to like? With water: oh, moss, pine needles, asparagus soup, celeriac, even turnips… Love this mee lord… Mouth (neat): hot, very powerful, and frankly, a tad too spirity and aggressive for me. We’re almost drinking a blend of acetone and williams pears. So, quick… With water: extremely good, of high-mezcal quality, I would say. The sugar cane comes out, and so do artichokes, then fruits (fruits, at last!) Plums, pears, papayas, mandarins… Finish: medium, a tad sugary again, it seems that the finishes are these white rums Achilles’ heel. Comments: our favourite so far, but this is no surprise.
SGP:452 - 82 points.

Bielle, you say?...

Bielle 2016 ‘100% Canne Grise’ (72.8%, Old Brothers, Marie-Galante, 400 bottles, 2018)

Bielle 2016 ‘100% Canne Grise’ (72.8%, Old Brothers, Marie-Galante, 400 bottles, 2018) Four stars and a half
Matured for 22 months in stainless steel and bottled by/for these skilful French indie bottlers. Remember, maturation doesn’t always need oak (but flavouring sometimes does)… Now 72.8% vol.? Where did I put my latest testament? Colour: white. Nose: ha, piece of cake! I’m only half-joking, this is cane-y silk, but the tarry earthiness in the back just starts to roar. Also the usual strong glue, the rotting pink bananas, and just this feeling of tropical rain do rock. It’s sharper than the official, though. With water: o.l.i.v.e.s. When olives do come out, it’s always like when… Frank Zappa was coming up on stage after the band’s (very) long intro. Mouth (neat): immaculate and, dare I say, drinkable, even at this strength. Touches of litchi syrup, preserved guavas, Timut pepper, pink bananas, then more earth, a few fermenting fruits, and a feeling of sugar but that’s the alcohol, no doubt. With water: perfect, well chiselled, and very fat. It is a very fat spirit. Finish: long, a little sweet(ish) again but that’s all these white rums’ fate, while the sugarcane keeps singing in the aftertaste. Comments: would have made it to 90 without the finish. One of the best un-Jamaican whites I could ever try.
SGP:562 - 88 points.

Séverin Blanc (55%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2016)

Séverin Blanc (55%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2016) Four stars and a half
Another rather weird bottle as it says ‘Rhum agricole de la Guadeloupe appellation d’origine’ while as far as I can tell, only sister island La Martinique does have a real appellation ‘agricole’. Oh and Madeira. This is not about the word agricole, it’s about the word appellation, but never mind… Colour: white. Nose: a bit of a death seat effect here, but its pretty nice, very cane-y, rounded, with a wee metallic side that’s not unpleasant at all, as well as a kind of fresh coastalness. Always forget, do you rather say coastality? With water: glue, glue, glue! Uhu, Pattex, Araldite… Love that. And smoked olives, love that even more. Mouth (neat): excellent! What a surprise, this has god aniseed, bananas, caraway, genepy, wormwood… Indeed, its almost like some kind of tropical absinth. With water: love it. Never thought I would. Lemons, olives, sucking waxed cardboard and sucking your cigar. Finish: long and marvellously green. I mean, olive-y. Comments: a tad flattering at times, perhaps, but it sure is one of the better ones. Despite the oh-so-un-New-York packaging. Well done, Domaine de Séverin!
SGP:652 - 88 points.

Good, let’s deviate a bit, and then we’re done.

Port Mourant ‘White’ (59%, Habitation Velier, Guyana, 2015)

Port Mourant ‘White’ (59%, Habitation Velier, Guyana, 2015) Five stars
Still had to try this one. Famous wooden pot still, high congeners (540 grams/hlpa if I’m not mistaken), some slightly boisterous bottlers… etc. If you’re on social media you already know about all that, if you’re not you’re a happy human being. Colour: white. Nose: different for sure. Roasted peanuts abound, and so do pistachios, roasted sesame, varnish, white pepper… With water: smoked pepper and ashy plasticine, no one can be against that. Mouth (neat): f**k, this is good rum. Goes to show that molasses aren’t obligatorily less good than vésou. Lime, olives, earth, kippers, smoke… This is almost Caol Ila made in Guyana. With water: perfect distillate. Smoky almonds and smoked ham, like they make in Schwarzwald (hallo Nachbarn!) Finish: long and perfect. Sublime smoky lemon. Comments: no oak needed when your spirit’s this good. I think I’m going to launch the White Distillates Association, but I’m not sure that would be politically sound these days… Oh, pass. Amazing white rum.
SGP:464 - 90 points.

Eight rums and more or less 550% vol. altogether, that’s enough (not sure that’s a sound calculation, S.)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all rums we've tasted so far






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