My gradual catch-up of the events in 2018 now include reflections of RumFest last October.
Though spirits were high, this year’s festival saw far less carnival carnage. The ‘tiki’ vibe had dimmed significantly with zero incidents of peeps crashing into banner stalls [ahem]. I wonder if the rise in ticket prices brought that on? Up too were noticeable efforts by the event organisers & exhibitors to present more robust & professional stalls. Furthermore, a better show layout made for a far more dignified and congenial experience.
Another change was the spirit itself. The ‘whiskyfication‘ of rum was most apparent from the more integrity-perceived bottlers & producers like Hunter Laing & Foursquare for example, though many others were also jumping on the cask-ageing & age statement direction that the whisky industry, ironically, has been turning it’s back on in the last few NAS years. That may be good for business. but is it good for the rum? It hasn’t necessarily been a success for Tequila [blog].
More on all that in due course. Let’s get stuck in with an agricole quartet.
A1710 La Perle Brute 2017 Ob. Cannes de Monsieur Paul Octave [btl #1641/2286] 66% [50cl] caribjournal.com96
This, a 2017 vintage, is pot still agricole from Habitation du Simon, Martinique. Yes the distillery is called A1710. Yes, the label does read like a wine bottle, and yes, online press generally seem confused as to what all the numbers & words refers to what. I’m not completely clear either.
- N: Super-palatable new-make with raisins & bready notes.
- T: Bread crumb new-make.
- F: Not to be taken lightly given the devilish abv.
- C: Quite the tonic!
Scores 79 points
Trois Rivieres Cuvee de L’Ocean  Ob. 42% RR6.2
- N: These agricoles can be unusual and this one claims terroir influence being near the Atlantic. I detected lager & lime and mince pies but really nothing of the sea.
- T: Coppery & vodka-like but with a unique vegetal core.
- F: Back to the essence with some desirable ‘dirt’.
- C: Not only unusual & interesting, these candid agricoles bring a certain ‘something’ that sets them apart from other rum styles.
Scores 79 points
- C: That’s super funky rhum, waxy too. Around four years old.
Scores 84 points
[Left] HSE Parcellaire #1 2016/2018 Ob. Canne D’or [Ref: R570] 55%
Rhum Blanc Agricole from Martinique. The exact distillation & bottling dates are: 10/06/16 – 28/06/18.
- N: A rather ‘alive’, clear distillate that smells like liquid raisins.
- T: Bitter and clean spirit with more complexity than the Trois Rivieres Cuvee. However, adding water transforms it, and boom, it’s now stylistically clairin-like.
- F: Finishes very clean and spirity, and now much more like the HSE Tres Vieux with that particular vegetal core.
- C: Pleasing indeed.
Scores 85 points
Whilst we are talking of clairin, here’s a pair from Velier.
Clairin Vaval 2015/2018 27 mois Ob./Velier Ansyen ex-whisky cask #WHKVA1 49.5%
MdW tell us ‘Selected by Joseph Akhavan for le Mabel, Paris and born at Fritz Vaval’s distillery, this Clairin is delicately influenced by scotch whisky’.
In Haiti, clairin is typically fermented for 7-8 days using yeasts particular to the area. Distilled using 55% first press juice, this is a single cask offering, Ageing-wise, they took a soft approach in order to preserve the delicate essence of the sugar cane. Notice that even after 27 months in an ex-whisky cask [ESB?], an incredible volume of alcohol has been lost.
- N: The short yet potent cask action brings familiar whisky-like notes.
- T: The palate receives a floral>soapy element.
- F: Cask-rum mouthfeel, but there’s a fine balance.
- C: A more tempered clairin style than I’ve come across before, the cask providing a broader appeal perhaps.
Scores 81 points
Clairin Casimir  Velier 53.4% WF89
Distillerie Faubert Casimir, from the village of Barraderes in Haiti.
- N: The 2014 edition [blog] spoke of ‘Tomato Wheat Crunchies,…. salted & flavoured specifically with Heinz tomato soup flavouring‘. This 2015 edition brings all manner of fruit cakes [unusual & unspecified ones], tomato soup [check], funky salty crisps and some fairy liquid.
- T: More desirable weirdness borne from Haiti’s unique & idiosyncratic production techniques that produce the same calibre of spirit from sugar cane as more traditional mezcal producers do from agave.
- F: A coppery fruity bitter finish, yet with a light sweetness and low-lying butyric hues.
- C: Super crazy stuff, and the novelty hasnt worn off. It’s a couple of marks higher for the Casimir this year.
Scores 86 points
Get ready. There are more rumblings to come!