And here is Rum number three of Fabio Rossi’s Rum Nation Single Domain series. Earlier I reviewed the Panama 18yo and the Barbados 10yo from this series, both very likeable, enjoyable and very affordable. Third time lucky and this third one is a Martinique Hors d’Âge and an official AOC. Don’t be fooled, this is not a Wine, but a Rhum Agricole, made from Cane Juice. Rum’s like this are different from other types of Rum, made from molasses. So don’t go out buying the aforementioned Panama 18yo and this one, expecting two similar Rums, because they aren’t.
First of all I would like to mention, and I may have done that (several times) already, that Rhum Agricole is an acquired taste, especially for those who started out with sweet, molasses based Rum’s. It may take you a while to like something like this. I can’t stress this enough. Although I came from Whisky, which is something different entirely, I also needed some time to “get it”. I assure you, it will be worth your while, because after a while you also might “get it” or find out it never was meant for you in the first place., which is possible too. In that case I apologize. For the first group who “gets it”, what did I tell you? Isn’t it great!
The version I’ll be reviewing has a code EMB 97209J on it, and was released in 2008, there exists an earlier batch coded: EMB 97230, which was released in 2006. To complicate things a bit, It seems that parts of the EMB 97209J batch were also released in 2010 and 2011. Finally a new version, bottled in the dumpy bottle, was released in 2013. I don’t have confirmation yet, but I understand this Rhum Agricole was distilled by Habitation Saint Etienne (HSE), but I also don’t know if all batches were distilled by HSE, if distilled by them at all. I’ll let you know when I find out.
Color: Copper brown.
Nose: Nice Agriciole nose. Grassy, some orange skins, and a promise of a full body with maybe some more sweetness than usual from an Agricole. Dusty, drying and full of nice spices. Half warm, fresh black tea with sugar in it. Maybe not very complex, but very nice smelling. Hints of a grass and hay note I know from Grappa. Licorice and a wee bit of tar, but also a slight hint of burnt sugar, a very Caribbean smell. Add to that the smell of an unpainted hot metal roof. Hints of dry oak, like smelling the outside of the cask.
Taste: Light on entry, but with a nice half-sweet attack. It shows sweetness and dryness in quick succession. Again a hint of orange skins combined with dried out leather. Fresh, untreated almonds. The luke-warm black tea shows itself in the taste too. Gelatine and a small hint of floral soap towards the finish. The finish is of medium length and not much stays around for long in the aftertaste. The hot metal roof is the last note standing, essentially.
I did an extensive H2H2H with this Rum Nation Martinique, which is between 5 and 8 years of age, the J.M Vintage 2002 (11yo) and the 100% Canne Bleue Clément Single Cask (9yo) I reviewed earlier. First of all, these three are not similar, but do resemble each other. The Rum Nation offering is definitely younger, than both others. A clean Agricole taste, not very complex, but very nice and highly drinkable. The Clément has an amazing colour after only 9 years in a Bourbon cask. Uncanny. It must have come from a very active cask. It is a Rum of broad strokes and primary colours. A bit raw, and everything that lies on top, overpowers any subtleties that lie underneath. The J.M is a bit like this Rum Nation with an added dimension. Here Bourbon maturation, did what you would expect. The American oak added sappy wood and vanilla to the mix, as well as a creamy and sweet-corn distillate note. You might say that the J.M is easily the best of the three, but keep in mind that the Rum Nation Martinique costs about half of both others, and keep in mind as well, that the Clément comes in a half litre bottle only. Rum Nation again shows its incapability of bottling a dud, and if you get the chance to talk to Fabio and he starts to talk about his entry-level Rums, just slap him over the head. He doesn’t bottle entry-level Rums, he only bottles Rums at entry-level prices. So if you get the chance to buy one…what are you waiting for?