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 I feel 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 a few of those, I can also say that they are definitely not bad, not bad at all.
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 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. It has a high ester quality like Jamaican Rum, but in a different way. Quite fruity and has a strange acidity to it. Cognac? Yes, maybe. Not quite sure if I’d call it well-integrated. Probably not. The strange acidity reminds me 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’s its origin. Slightly dusty and yes some wood obviously. Hot oak. Old oak planks, freshly sawn. Soft Rum, but now for sure the acidic note is an off note. Hints of orange juice and banana. Dry soft wood and old toned down sawdust. Black slightly sweet tea and hints of licorice. The acidic off note takes a bit of a backseat and the fruity notes start to integrate better after prolonged breathing. The fruity notes themselves seem to take a back seat as well, giving way to a more thicker, nutty, waxy and toffee character. Ok, let this breathe.
Taste: Wood and extremely syrupy at first. Sugar and burnt sugar. 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. Now its (sweetish) Demerara. Again not perfectly integrated and it never will. With this one I’m not sure the second 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. Nice note of almond in the aftertaste. Not bad, but Demerara can be better, but you will be hurting your wallet these days to try some. At this price point, it would be hard to find a better deal. This is in no way perfect, has a good drinkablity, and I believe is very, very fairly priced. Good ABV as well. 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.