Depaz Plantation Rhum Vieux Agricole

Back in October 2018 Rhum Depaz launched in the UK with 4 new rums. The PR company behind the release contacted me asking if I would like some samples and if I would post the Press Release for the launch. I don’t go seeking samples and don’t usually accept offers as I’m self funded (I buy my own rum with my own hard earned money) and totally impartial, but this time I thought it was a worthy promotion. I won’t labour details in my previous post, that can be read here, but my view is that rum labelling and classification generally is a farce and the UK is appalling at this too. Now, Martinique AOC (appellation d’origine controlee) is a classification and labelling set of rules that must be followed for the AOC to apply and we get very little of the rum over here in the UK so consumers are not exposed to it. I think the classification is fabulous and we really need to get more exposure to that sort of thing in the UK. So I accepted the samples. Now, I was sent a load of tasting notes with the samples, but there’s no way I’m going to publish someone else’s notes – so I’ve done my own. They are a little late coming, lots of rum to get through and a busy Christmas!

What is it? Rum, distilled in a column still where the raw material is pressed sugar cane juice – so a R(h)um Agricole. This rum was produced at the Depaz distillery on the island of Martinique in the French West Indies and has been aged for at least 3 years in oak casks tropically. To adhere to the AOC regulations the rum must be 100% pressed sugar cane juice, that juice has a very tightly controlled brix (sugar content), it must be distilled in a column still to between 65% and 75% abv with no further rectification (second, abv boosting distillation) and the setup of the still must meet certain standards – such as the number and size of stripping plates used. Further more, no sugar or colouring can be added to AOC Martinique rums.

This rum is labelled as “vieux”; this additionally part of the classification and the rules for the AOC are very strict. It means that it has been aged in oak casks within the production area and for at least 3 uninterrupted years. The capacity of barrels must be under 650 litres and the rum must also contain at least 325 grams per 100 litre of pure alcohol of volatile elements other than ethanols and methyl at the end of the three years (these are your esters).

Chill filtered, not coloured and bottled at 45% abv.

Sugar? No

Nose: Fresh cane juice, as I’d expect. Hay, white flowers (sweet peas and lilly) and marjoram. A little vanilla, white chocolate, blanched almonds, a touch of cocoa powder and some faint allspice. There is some white wine here too and a faint hint of green olives. It smells very fresh and vibrant, and different from a mass produced molasses based rum indeed.

Palate: Very grassy, those herbal cough lozenges you can get from a traditional English sweet shop, white wine again and a little sour note. There are some fuller notes of milk chocolate and white chocolate, cinnamon, a little prune juice, vanilla, almonds and gentle coconut.

Finish: Short. Sweeter here than the nose or palate with more milk chocolate, yogurt coated cranberry or other dried and tart fruits as well as those dried, toasted coconut flakes you get in muesli.

Thoughts? As an Agricole novice, the taste does take some getting used to. With time the sharpness and sourness seems to go and more sweeter cask notes come through. As an entry level young Agricole I like it but I’m not sure I’d pick a bottle up for £35. It’s not that it’s not a good rum, I just find it very different to what I’m used to and there are a lot more complex rums out there at that price. However, if you want to give Agricole a punt then it’s certainly nice and worth looking at more closely – unfortunately Agricoles are more expensive than most other rums due to the production methods and limited time of the year they can make it. In terms of the range (the other 3 rums Depaz do) this clearly sits at the bottom. No spoilers here, but there are a couple of crackers as the rum gets older, albeit more expensive!

Mezan Belize 10 year old – 2008/2018

What is it? Rum from Molasses, distilled in a triple column still at a distillery in Belize. The bottle doesn’t state the distillery but says that it is in Belmopan, which makes this a Travellers Liqours rum. The rum was distilled in 2008 and bottled in 2018 by Independent bottler Mezan. Now Mezan have really upped their game. Gone as the low abv bottlings with screw caps and along have come a new(ish) bottle complete with wooden topped cork stoppers and a higher abv, but more importantly the back of the bottle is excellent in terms of information – just the sort of thing this rum geek loves! So it tells us that the rum is matured in ex-bourbon casks for a period of 6 years tropically and 4 years in Europe, giving a total age of 10 years. However, the 6 tropical years are worth 12-18 years of European ageing due to Angels Share, so it puts this on a maturation par with a European rum of 16-22 years old. The bottle also notes the raw material used and the still type (molasses and triple column in this case); excellent Mezan, exactly what we’re after!

No added colour, not chill filtered and bottled at 46% abv.

Sugar? No

Nose: I really like this style, sometimes. It’s some quasi rum/bourbon thing going on; loads of warm oak, incense, cedar, sweet pipe tobacco, warm leather that has been in the sun. Brown butter, some lovely violets and bitter orange. There’s a zippy sherbet fizz to this too and some tinned pineapple chunks in juice – as well as the metallic tang of the tin they are in. Right through there is an earthy note of cashew nuts and dry roasted peanuts.

Palate: Medium to full mouth. Quite floral at first actually, with parma violet sweets, some orange blossom and rose. Then we get the oak, bitter dark chocolate, stem ginger, cinnamon and a whoosh of nutmeg. There is some orange caramel in here mid-way, vanilla, a tiny bit of coconut and butterscotch. The peanuts from the nose are there too under it all, but it’s creamy like a peanut ice-cream.

Finish: Long. Sweeter finish here with the chocolate, a little black cherry jam, cherry stones (like a cooling nutty taste), overcooked fruit loaf, raisin & cinnamon bagels that have been toasted and covered in salted butter. Some coconut appears here and a surprising rubber note of new tyres, rubber bands or a balloon. It starts to tighten up and gets tannic as it goes on, but just in time for another sip.

Thoughts? Like, like, like. Travellers rum can be quite hot and spicy, but I like that sometimes. It’s a rich, flavourful and warming rum. Very whisky or bourbon like at times and has a lot of complexity. There is a nice balance between the sweeter notes and the spices from the cask, and it’s always nice to have the option of something a little different from your normal rummy flavours on the shelf.

I think Mezan have the ageing balance and abv spot on here – I’ve really enjoyed drinking this rum and would happily buy another at the £45 it cost me. This is quite a price increase on older Mezan bottlings but you’re getting a decent increase in abv, nicer bottle and a damn sight more information. I’m more than happy to pay that bit extra to get that from my rum.

Flor De Cana 18

What is it? Molasses based, multi-column distilled rum from Compania Locorera de Nicaragua (CLN), in Nicaragua, and bottled under the Flor De Cana (Cane Flower) rum brand. I’ll not go into the background any more on this as I’ve already reviewed the Flor De Cana 12, but this is essentially a No Age Statement rum. Without covering old ground, this rum is not 18 years old, the producers say that it has an average age of 18 years – it says so on the website but not on the bottle, which gives them the ability to change their mind as and when they want. If you’re going to put a number on a bottle, that looks like an age statement, then put a bloody age statement on the bottle. If you’re not going to give the rum an official age statement then don’t put an a number on the bottle that looks like one.

Chill filtered, coloured and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? No

Nose: Ah, not what I was expecting; it’s a bit dirty at first (that’s good by the way), with dry soil, damp leaves, raw walnuts and even some tar and marine fuel of all things. After that it gets more of what I thought it’d be; roasted pecans in toffee sauce, burnt sugar, some toast with honey on, Seville oranges or marmalade, a touch of toffee apple and a lift right at the end of copper pans or a cutlery draw – a sort of tangy metallic note.

Palate: Medium mouth. Oak at first and some of the savoury with olive oil, glue and some mushrooms – this doesn’t last long before we go sweeter with honey, oranges, vanilla, milk chocolate, “Tracker” bars that I found in the 12 too and some butterscotch. There’s some cinnamon butter, a touch of clove and a generic floral notes I can’t quite pin down as it finishes.

Finish: Medium. Sweeter here with caramel, candied orange, lime and lemon peels, vanilla custard and tails off with oak spices of clove, cinnamon and a little hint of ginger heat – maybe chocolate covered stem gingers.

Thoughts? A decent and solid rum, infinitely better than the “12” and I’d certainly put it at “above average”. You can see this is related to the 12, but it’s the better looking, more successful and more popular older sibling (we all know those people!). The savoury side was unexpected, and whilst it is a bit off balance it does give much more complexity to the rum and I think was what I was missing from the 12 – it also carries a lot more amplification of flavour, everything is more concentrated and more intense.

Now, I paid £41 (!!!) for this online, which at the time was only £6 more than the 12 and it’s twice the rum, so make your call on that. Total no brainer when the price is right. At £40-£45ish it’s one I’d buy again, but I’m not too sure that I would at £60 though, it’s not that good.

Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve

What is it? Jamaican Pure Single Rum, so 100% pot still rum, from Molasses, and produced at the Worthy Park distillery in Jamaica. The rums that go into this blend are aged tropically for between 6 and 10 years before being blended for the final rum, and all of that ageing takes place in first fill ex-bourbon casks (only previously held bourbon, nothing else).

No dunder is used at Worthy Park, the esters are produced during fermentation using a propriety yeast strain and control of time for the fermentation. The marque used for this rum is entirely from the WPL marque, which is a lighter Worthy Park and comes in at 60-119g/laa. For reference, the range of marques for Worthy Park and their ester levels are:

  • WPEL: less than 60g/laa
  • WPL: 60-119g/laa
  • WPM: 120-239g/laa
  • WPH: 240-360g/laa
  • WPE: up to 800g/laa

Coloured, but not chill filtered and bottled at 45% abv.

Sugar? No

Nose: This smells good. Definite and strong Jamaican pot still, but it’s not big, pungent or funky. A Hampden this is not. Key Lime Pie topped with a banana cream, soft vanillas – vanilla Danish pastry maybe, toasty oak, coconut and a little lemon too. The more I nose this I start to get crushed shells, salty rock-pools and a beach on a hot day. Faint notes of marine fuel and oil in the distance and anchovies marinated in very good olive oil. There is a light marzipan/almond note appearing from time to time too.

Palate: Medium mouth feel. Sharp at first with citrus fruits and yellow stone fruit, quite hot with a little ginger root and white pepper. After the initial heat it’s pretty savoury and salty; brine, green olives, salted fish, shellfish in lemon juice and a big breath of sea breeze when stood on a jetty. Mid-palate and as it moves to the finish the sweeter notes appear with some milk chocolate, vanilla custard, Lady Grey tea and bananas.

Finish: Medium to long. Some salty tang still in there but much sweeter than the palate and more funky; ripe bananas, fresh pineapple, lemon curd, maybe a light butterscotch too and a fudge’y note.

Thoughts? Cracking rum. The nose is a beauty but I’m less keen on the finish if I’m being honest, it’s not “bad” at all, I’d just prefer a bit more intensity and less “safeness”, but that’s just my preference here. Again, a fine example of a Jamaican pot still rum, much more approachable than a Hampden or Long Pond and a good foot in the door if you want to head that way in your rum journey. I’m being a bit spoilt with Jamaicans here at Rumtastic Towers at the moment, they’ve all been very good recently!

I picked this up for £45. That may put people off for a NAS (No Age Statement) rum, but you’ve got to bear in mind it’s 6-10 years old and tropically aged. If you are starting to explore more interesting and complex rum at the moment then it’s one I think worth investing in. Personally, I like the style and I’d buy it again.

 

Flor De Cana 12

What is it? Molasses based, multi-column distilled rum from Compania Locorera de Nicaragua (CLN), in Nicaragua, and bottled under the Flor De Cana (Cane Flower) rum brand. Molasses comes from local sugar and is produced at the Ingenio San Antonio sugar mill which is part of the same company as CLN and undergoes a 36 hour fermentation. The is the bottling of the “12”, this does not mean 12 years old; in recent years the packaging has changed and where it used to say “12 anos” on the bottle it now just states “12 slow aged”. They also produce a “7”, “18” and “25” – none of which are the age of the number on the bottle. I really don’t like this misleading labelling that is often used in rum, which allows the consumer to believe they are buying a product of a certain age but in fact that are not, they may was well call their line-up “Flor De Cana 1, 2, 3 and 4” for all the difference it makes.

Chill filtered, coloured and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Quite oaky at first, a good sign – maybe it has actually seen some aging after all! Pecans, walnuts and syrup; think Tracker Bars (nutty snack bar things in the UK). Vanilla, some cinnamon, light brown sugar and Werthers Original sweets. There isn’t much fruit on display here, a little red apple perhaps, that’s been caramelised as if to make a Tart Tatin and a little dried papaya, but other than that it’s really cask smells. With some time I can pick up the faintest floral note, almost of Peonies.

Palate: Medium mouth feel, quite coating actually. We’re in the same place as the nose really, it’s a bit more buttery, cinnamon certainly, vanilla and Allspice. Hints of warm oak, caramels, burnt sugar and pecans again. No floral notes here but a toffee apple sweetness, which again is the only real fruit. Tanic as it moves to the finish.

Finish: Short. Tanic, starting to bitter. Burnt toast with butter and honey on top, some toffee and that’s about it. Hmmm, not the best finish really.

Thoughts? Not bad, but not good either. It’s a very run-of-the-mill rum and all a little pointless. I’m not really sure who this rum is aimed at; your casual drinker will find it too dry and bitter whereas your seasoned rum drinker is unlikely to find it complex or interesting enough and all a bit dull. Maybe it’s aimed at whisky drinkers, who knows. I’ve started going to this bottle when my palate is having an off day, it still tastes ok but I don’t feel guilty about wasting a decent rum when I can’t taste too well.

So, £35……now that seems ok but there are a hell of a lot of better rums out there for that price…. not one I’ll be buying again.