Walk into a spirits shop which sell quite a few Rum’s, you have a big chance to find at least a shelf worth of Plantation Rums. I don’t know if this is true in all the corners of the world, but here in Europe it is. There are several reasons for this. They look quite interesting, quite a lot of Rum producing countries are available, and the price is quite nice. Especially if you are a novice it ticks all the boxes you care about. Having tried some of those, I can also say that they seem to be not bad.
Who is Plantation? Plantation is the Rum brand of Cognac Ferrand. Cognac Ferrand being the mother company that has quite a few brands in its portfolio. If you punch in Cognac Ferrand in your browser, you are quickly transferred to Maison Ferrand and there you can see that Ferrand is definitely more than Cognac alone. Back to Plantation Rum then. Plantation buys casks of Rum and ages them where they have found them. At the end of maturation, the casks are transferred to France, where they receive a second maturation for up to 18 months in small oak casks. Although it is not said that the cask previously held Cognac, we do assume that’s the case most of the time.
Here, we’ll be looking at one of the vintage releases from the Plantation Old Reserve. This particular example comes from Guyana, but according to the website there are six more Old Reserves available: Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama and Trinidad. I don’t know if they discontinued some versions, but I do have a St. Lucia version as well. All are vintage releases, so there are multiple vintages available. I have tried several of the vintages of the Jamaican version and found that not only is there some batch variation between the vintages, but also that there can be more than one batch of only one vintage. Jamaica 2000 comes to mind…
Color: Full Gold
Nose: Big, fatty and yet not entirely Demerara (yet). Initially, and momentarily, it has this high ester quality and funkiness like a Jamaican Rum, but in a slightly different way. With some more breathing this becomes more like a Demerara and the funkiness disappears completely, or is this my nose getting used to it? Quite fruity and has a very mild acidity to it. Is this the Cognac? Yes, maybe. The slightly off-acidity reminds me a bit of standing in the produce section of an outdoor market in the cold. Hmmm, never saw that before in a tasting note, Crazy Quill. Since these bottlings have seen wood that previously held Cognac, I’m guessing, that must be its origin. Slightly dusty with some paper-like qualities and yes some wood obviously. Hot oak. Old oak planks, yet freshly sawn. Soft. Hints of orange juice (the acidity mentioned above) and maybe banana (it does have a deeper layer, close to concentrated banana aroma). Dry soft wood and old toned down sawdust. yes, its dusty. Black, slightly sweet, tea and hints of licorice. The fruity notes start to integrate better after prolonged breathing and move back a bit, giving way to a more thicker, nutty, funky and waxy toffee character. Ok, letting this breathe seems to be the crux.
Taste: Wood, nutty, fruity and extremely syrupy (syrupy, not necessarily only sweet) at first. Yellow fruits on light syrup, so not thick or cloying. Sugar and burnt sugar (nice) and more nutty notes. A bit hot. Chewy and tasty, in a complex way. It’s not typically toffee of caramel, more like a combination of earwax and toffee. Slightly bitter. It’s in there but its more complex than that. Fresh oak notes and some licorice. Now its (sweetish) Demerara. The second Cognac cask maturation suits the original Rum. Wax with bitter notes of burnt sugar and burnt wood. The body is thick and in your face, but towards the finish that loses ground. It breaks down a bit in the finish, which otherwise has quite some length to it. It feels like a cloaking effect of added sugar. Nice note of almond in the aftertaste and the more breathing, the bigger the licorice note. Not bad, but Demerara can be better, but you will be hurting your wallet these days to try some really good ones. At this price point, it might be hard to find a better deal, but definitely not impossible. Even the El Dorado range of the 12yo, the 15yo and the 21yo do come to mind. Which also has some sugar added, but probably to a lesser extent than the Plantations.
This Plantation offering is in no way perfect, does have a good drinkability, and seems fairly priced. Good ABV as well (at 45%). Not every Plantation Old Reserve is bottled at 45% ABV though. This is an older bottle, from, April 9, 2009 (laser printed on the bottle), and has a slightly different look from current bottlings, which have a thicker glass base and a different icon on the shoulder. It’s also slightly higher in ABV (45% ABV). I fear that subsequent releases may be a bit sweeter than this one, I have already tasted some of them, and 42% ABV. might be the new strength.