Saint James 12 year old

20200722_193732What is it? An Agricole rum (cane juice based, column still) from the Saint James distillery in Martinique. I wont go over old ground here as I covered off Saint James and the Martinique AOC regulations around their rum and how it’s made in my review of the Saint James XO here. This one has spent at least 12 long tropical years maturing in oak and given the seasonality of the sugar cane harvest and the requirement to only use cane juice, getting hold of some of these longer aged Agricoles can be a bit of a challenge in the UK.

Not coloured, but chill-filtered and bottled at 43% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Really beautiful straight away. Cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Fragrant sandalwood, ginger root, ground coffee, figs and prunes. There’s quite a bit of fruit here too with pineapple, mango and apricot but it’s not lively fresh fruit, instead the fruits are mixed in with the rich cask notes so they have a deep and full smell to them. There’s some lightness and freshness of white flowers, some warm cut grass or hay, and a lovely pipe tobacco deep down. You could probably wear this as a perfume and get away with it.

Palate: Medium mouth. A little sour and sharp at first with capers and a pickle like note which carries straight into some very floral and grassy tastes, with a touch of musty sack cloth. As it goes on it gets fruity with the pineapple, mango and some under ripe pears. Then the richer notes arrive with the prune, cinnamon, coffee grounds, a little tobacco and some bitter honey. Not as rich as the nose but definitely fresher, lighter and more tangy in the mouth.

Finish: Long. Just as it was trailing off things pick up again with a burst of spice in the form of ginger, nutmeg and some black peppercorns, a little brine and black olives. Dark chocolate and espresso pop up here and there, some more fragrant pipe tobacco again and pops of the sourness from earlier in the palate.

Thoughts? Really very nice. We’re walking that fine line here between fresh/floral, sour and rich. It has all of these elements and shows you a little of each without being too much in any one way. A really solid and inviting rum with a nose I could sit and smell all day long. It shows you its cane juice roots but holds your hand when it does it, so if you’re like me and primarily a molasses based rum drinker (it’s what we get most of in the UK), it offers a sense of safety whilst letting you explore some of the more traditional Agricole side.

I picked this up for £70. A great stepping stone from molasses rum into cane juice rum and one that makes me really want to explore the category much more. A very good balance between the cost of the rum and the quality of the experience you get, one I’d certainly pick up again.

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