Google A few French rhums for the last Sunday of the year

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

December 30, 2018


A few French rhums for
the last Sunday of the year

Let’s see what we have…

Montebello 4 yo 2010 (42%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2015)

Montebello 4 yo 2010 (42%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2015) Four stars
This is a ‘rhum vieux’ from one of the most elusive and discreet rhum distilleries in France, the distillerie Carrère in Basse-Terre.  They’re rather small as they produce only around 200,000 litres of rhum per year. Colour: gold. Nose: nice! New sneakers, benzine, cane juice, new wellingtons, olives, smoked fish, a bit of chlorophyll, carbon paper… In truth this very ‘agricole’. Mouth: yes it is very good, olive-y, salty, with excellent liquorice, brine, lime juice, a few drops of Champagne… Really, this young single-vintage Montebello just rocks. Finish: rather long, brine-y… Sour syrup and green olives. Comments: not quite a surprise, but yeah, this rather unknown bottle is worth your attention. Hope you can find it, it’s not very expensive. Bang for your euros!
SGP:462 - 87 points

Trois Rivières 2001/2014 (43%, OB, Martinique, agricole, cask #L1A)

Trois Rivières 2001/2014 (43%, OB, Martinique, agricole, cask #L1A) Four stars
These Martiniquais have got the appellation contrôlée. So, much higher production costs while having to compete with all the unregulated junk of the world. Typically French ;-). Colour: gold. Nose: much, much, much gentler than the Montebello, rounder, sweeter, cakier, more on bananas and pineapples, stews and jams, soft spices, saffron, sweeter curries, cooked apricots, caraway, sloe, balsam, perhaps a little incense, musk… It’s all very aromatic and complex, and pretty soft. A little feminine, as we used to say in the 20th century. Mouth: oh very good! Liquorice and flower jams, honey-roasted pecans, a little maple syrup, a rather fruity kind of woodiness, and a very floral development, rather hard to describe. Vanilla pods for sure. Finish: long, silky, with touches of camphor beyond all the rest. Small overripe bananas. Comments: I have a fondness for the tighter style of the Montebello, but this one’s excellent too, no doubt.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Look, I have an idea, let’s rather quickly do a Montebello vs. Trois Rivières session, what do you say? Coz as always, out of chaos comes order…

Montebello 8 yo 2005 (42%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2014)

Montebello 8 yo 2005 (42%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2014) Four stars
Everything’s done on site, brewing, distilling, aging, bottling, drink… Not. Colour: deep gold. Nose: splendid earth, burnt molasses, stewed bananas, liquorice, olive cake, cane juice, crème de menthe, almonds… It’s less on esters than the younger 4, but the parentage remains obvious. Love this. Mouth: how fantastically good! Rotting fruits mixed with a little liquorice and tar, eucalyptus, drops of raspberry eau-de-vie (funny molecules), a spoonful of seawater, and then even more fruity liquorice. Frankly, I could drink litres of this, but on the other hand, I liked the freshness and the tightness of the glorious 4 yo even more. Finish: long, perhaps a tad too syrupy at this point, although I wouldn’t say it’s ‘too sweet’. No stoopid ‘dosage’ added to these batches. Comments: we’re still flying very high, it’s just that the 4 was quite something (and he insists…)
SGP:642 - 85 points.

Back to the Three Rivers…

Trois Rivières 2000 (42%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2013)

Trois Rivières 2000 (42%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2013) Three stars
Did you know that the Plantation Trois Rivières exists since the year 1660? Erm, I know, sounding like a marketing brochure now… Colour: deep gold. Nose: yeah, Trois Rivières is rather more about wood, roasted nuts, coffee, varnish, vanilla and all that. In a way, we’re a little closer to some bourbons here, with quite a lot of nail polish (and the removers that should come with them). Other than that, I’m finding quite some pineapple, as well as roses, Turkish delights, rosewater… Mouth: older rums or rhums are not always the best, and I’m not sure they stand longer tropical aging. This is a good example, it’s pretty tannic, gritty… Of course, aging in the tropics is more romantic, and probably politically correct, but the oak’s impact gets really loud and heavy, frankly. So, this remains good, but the youngsters will beat this fair and square – and at a much fairer price. Rather finish in Europe? Tsk-tsk… Finish: medium, a tad gingery and a little too cinnamony. Sour oak. Comments: as I said, it’s great juice but the oak got too loud for me.
SGP:471 - 82 points.

Montebello, the floor is yours again…

Montebello 10 yo 2002 (42%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2013)

Montebello 10 yo 2002 (42%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2013) Four stars
Colour: green gold. Nose: hold on, no excessive oak this time, rather lovely rotting bananas and oranges, liquorice, olives, new rubber boots, a feeling of peat, and some tarry liquorice. The fatter distillates really stand the distance much better, or so it seems. Mouth: oh yes indeed, this is pretty perfect, on cane juice, liquorice, tar, salted olives, more tar, more olives, more liquorice, cane syrup, smoky molasses, lime juice, the smallest kipper ever… Finish: rather long, salty, slightly cologne-y. Banana wine. Comments: still excellent, but it’s starting to become a little phat.
SGP:542 - 85 points.

Another Montebello…

Montebello 14 yo 2000 (50.6%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2015)

Montebello 14 yo 2000 (50.6%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2015) Two stars and a half
A ‘grande réserve spéciale’ at natural cask strength, mind you, so a rather expensive bottle. Let’s only hope all those years in the tropics did not just kill the juice or make it too planky. Colour: amber. Nose: oh get-out-of-here. Precious vinegars, verjuice, tar, acetone (lovely), smoked salmon, caviar (not joking), olives… What kind of sorcery is this? It is an exceptional nose, a crying shame that the name remains virtually unknown, as far as I can tell. With water: olives baked in honey and liquorice sauce. Something like that. Mouth (neat): well, it is a bit on the oaky side already, and indeed that’s not what rum lovers are looking for, but all names need prestige bottlings, I suppose. Why not ship the casks to Europe after the first five years of aging? I know that’s a lot of trouble (and less romanticism), but complexity comes with age, not with wood. Well, anyway, a good bottle on the palate, but I think the juice went past its prime. With water: no water please, water makes it even more tannic. Finish: a bit sad. A nice floral side, but the oak’s almost killing everything. Nice liquorice, though. Comments: a stupendous nose and a highly disappointing palate. Not much to add, but I’d rather take six bottles of the 4 yo for the same price, just saying. But shh…
SGP:572 - 78 points.

A last Trois Rivières and we are done…

Trois Rivières 1995 (43%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2015)

Trois Rivières 1995 (43%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2015) Two stars
Not sure when this was bottled, don’t take my word. Colour: amber. Nose: at these ages (around 20), these rums are becoming jams, and indeed, in this case, we cannot not mention zucchini flower jam (a delicacy, really), balsa wood, incense, potpourri, chamomile, dried figs, glazed chestnuts (marrons glacés), as well as white chocolate and Cointreau. Some raisins too, cassata, Szechuan pepper... It’s a very complex, very appealing nose, but this war will be won (or lost) on the palate!... Mouth: no. Oak, planks, black tea, tobacco, no fruits, all tannins. Well, almost. This is what I was expecting, a rather stunning nose and a dry and drying palate. Pass, let’s move on… Finish: no, you’d almost believe you just ate a whole cigar. Comments: none, really.
SGP:371 - 72 points.

Good, that was not the easiest session ever. But once again, we found out that oak can be any spirit’s best friend, and yet its worst enemy. I believe there’s still much to study about and around those issues, beyond what everybody’s doing, that is to say try to sell what they will be doing anyway (just because it’s cheap and convenient).  

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






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