Rhum J.M Cuvée 1845 (42%, Vieux, Hors d’Age, Martinique)

After the XO and the Millésime 2002 this is the third J.M Rhum on these pages. This Cuvée 1845 is a blend of Rhum’s aged for 10 years in refill Bourbon barrels. Released in 2015 for the 170th anniversary of production. 170 years, since 1845! I feel that the time has come with this third J.M review, to dive into a little bit of history. If you’re bored easily, please read on, I’ll keep it brief.

Lets begin our journey in 1663 when Jean-Baptiste Labat was born in Paris, France. At the age of 20 he entered the order of the Dominicans, thus becoming better known as Pere (father) Labat. In 1693 Jean-Baptiste travelled to Martinique (amongst others) to do missionary work. There he became proprietor of the Fonds-Saint-Jacques estate where he started to modernize the sugar industry, quickly followed suit by others. In 1706 he returned to Europe, in 1716 returned to Paris and died there in 1738. The Fonds-Saint-Jacques estate changed hands (and names) several times until we finally arrive in 1845, when Jean-Marie Martin bought the estate. Due to other sources for sugar, especially in Europe, production was reduced, however, since distilled spirits were on the rise. Jean-Marie (J.M) thought it would be a good idea to build a distillery on his estate to produce Rhum, thus creating J.M Rhum (Agricole). The distillery (and the estate) changed hands several times since, but the J.M brand stuck.

Color: Orange golden brown

Nose: Vegetable, spicy and dusty. Much more typical Agricole than the Rum Nation Guadeloupe I reviewed recently. Very aromatic. Again this bad breath note combined with (slightly burnt) cola, dates and figs. Some nice polished (oily) oak with old leather. Dusty, green and earthy. Earthy like a sack of soil you buy for your garden (that has been laying in the sun for a while). Sweetish notes like toffee, caramel and vanilla with red fruits, candied cherries and hints of mango and passion fruit. Soft and elegant. Quite floral as well and slightly sugared. I’m sure its not added to this Rhum, but this does have the smell of white sugar diluted in warm water. Powdered sugar dust. Sugared almonds, some honey coated, some fresh. A very quiet and distinguished expression. One that sits back in the corner of the room, but in the best leather chair. After some breathing more oak emerges and lukewarm black tea (yes, with a little bit of sugar in it). Fresh oak and white latex wall paint, very creamy and clean smell. Almonds, warm apple sauce and fresh air. Sniff hard and give it lots of time and this turns out to be way more complex than it showed upon pouring. The well balanced aroma’s seem to emerge endlessly…

Taste: After the complex nose, the taste sometimes starts out a bit thin (not when freshly poured). Less sweet than expected. Rich toffee and typical Agricole notes. An edge of toasted cask complete with a light bitter edge. Vegetal, clean sugar taste. Green spices (celery) and aromatic. Little sting of pepper(oni) and a nice half sweet licorice and sometimes cinnamon note. Definitely less sweet than expected, yet very well balanced. Mocha and hopjes (Dutch coffee candy), milk chocolate and caramel. Milky Way bar. Sometimes even some citrussy notes emerge. At 42% ABV I do feel I have to work at it quite a bit to get all the riches out, which doesn’t mean it should have been bottled at a higher ABV. For me maybe yes, but I guess the ABV suits this Rhum and the market is was bottled for. Just look at the looks of this bottle, it’s just not looking very cask strengthy now does it? I don’t think Daddy Warbucks would appreciate this being high ABV when he picked this at the bar. Warming going down, and very well made. This is a Rhum for a hot day, this needs a little bit of ambient warmth to present its riches, on a cold day, and at this ABV, it is too light and stays too closed.

Quite light in style, careless sipping of this particular Rhum will most certainly mean you will miss a lot and would probably think it isn’t as great than it really is. This is definitely from the same family as both J.M’s I reviewed before, the XO (simpler) and the 2002 (more raw and bigger), but in a different softer and more elegant or luxury style. I guess it depends on my mood if I would prefer the aforementioned 2002 or this 1845. It could be that this 1845 is better than the 2002. I sure would understand if you say so. Personally, when I grab this bottle carelessly and don’t give it full (almost analytical) attention, its almost like mishandling the Rhum. I’m missing most of it, find it thin and un-complex, and that’s where the 2002 shines. Even when you don’t give it enough attention, it still is able to show its true self. Thus lets say the 2002 is always good, the 1845 has some highs and lows. The low being that it just demands your attention, if not, it will chew on your remote, or piss against the couch…bugger.

Points: 87

Calvados Week – Day 7: de Querville Calvados Hors d’Age (40%, AOC Pays d’Auge, Circa 2008)

Logo Calvados WeekWell, what can I say, we’re in a flow now with the Vieux and the Vieille Réserve, so why not continue with the next de Querville in line, the Hors d’Age. Where the Vieux was 3yo, and the Vieille Réserve has a minimum of 4 years, this Hors d’Age was aged for a minimum of 6 years. So we get not only one year more, but a full two years more! I’ll bet you, lots of older distillates got thrown in for good measure as well. Again I expect a step up from both younger siblings, so by now I expect a lot!

de Querville Calvados Hors d’AgeColor: Gold.

Nose: Thick and syrupy, and even less fruity and upfront as the Vieux version of this. This definitely has some more age to it, and picked up some more Industrial notes along the way. Small hints of tar and toffee. Resembles a Sherried (Oloroso) Whisky. Again a dry Calvados. The Vieux smelled the part, but this is simply wonderful. Dry, spicy and dusty and full of elegant and polished wood. Old wood. Raisins and sugared and dry dark-skinned fruits. Excellent. Nice hidden note of black fruits. Not only a step up, but definitely a nose that delivers! Impressive.

Taste: Half sweet, waxy and up a notch in depth and darkness, compared to the Vieux and Vieille brothers/sisters. They all have the same style, which is dry and lets the wood shine through. The same amount of sweetness, but otherwise this is from a different planet altogether. First of all, I’m happy as can be, that after the stunning nose, tasting this does not disappoint. Nosing this particular example, you wouldn’t say this has anything to do with apples. tasting it, it seems to me as if the apples are there, but are more pear driven. This is absolutely stunning stuff. Amazing.

Maybe an ugly bottle and a label that looks like it was made in the middle ages, but boy-o-boy, what a wonderful drink is inside. I have to investigate de Querville some more, but this one and the previous two as well are very much recommended. The Vieux has youth and vibrancy, but not yet well matured. The Vieille Réserve is raising the bar a bit, but this Hors d’Age is a distinguished gentleman. Knowledgeable and smart. I can’s stop nosing this stuff it is utterly wonderful, and it puts many Whiskies to shame, even though it is a completely different distillate. Unbelievable, especially when you find out how inexpensive this is compared to Single Malt Whisky and other premium distillates of high quality.

And with this de Querville, our Calvados trip has come to an end, and what a wonderful trip it was. I don’t know about you but I (again) enjoyed myself thoroughly and have encountered some wonderful stuff. This won’t be the last of Calvados on these pages, because there is still a world of Calvados to discover, this was merely the tip of the iceberg. Amazing how little information there is to find. It’s a hidden secret only the French seem to know about. I really like the stuff made by de Querville or Distillery du Houley, and these bottles are also made with a nice price stickered on them compared to many others. After these three de Quervilles, I didn’t have to go out for a loan to get the daddy of all the de Quervilles: “The Prestige”. A 18yo Calvados. High hopes I have for that one, high hopes. We’ll meet again…

Points: 88

Rum Nation Martinique AOC Hors d’Âge (43%, Single Domaine Rum, EMB 97209J, 2008, Martinique)

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.

Rum Nation Martinique AOC Hors d'Âge (43%, Single Domaine Rum, EMB 97209J, 2008, Martinique)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?

Points: 85