Spotlight On: Compagnie Des Indes

From what I’ve heard and read of Compagnie Des Indes – pronounced ‘Company des And’ – its rums should speak to the discerning rum [& other spirits] drinker, as well as whisky fans looking for malternatives.

tFRP: ‘The brainchild of Florent Beuchet who has a long history in the Drinks Industry having been the brand manager for Banks Rum and also helping his father run a small absinthe distillery in his native France‘.

WF: ‘It’s no secret that I’m a fan of what these good people have started doing two or three years ago. Spirit-led spirits, that’s smart! WF: They only bottle pure rum, never sweetened or glycerined ‘junk’. And no fantasy ages‘.

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At tonight’s online tasting, [G&Ms] Anne Gugald introduces producer & owner of Companies Des Indes [CDI], Florent Beuchet – “more used to travelling the world and leading masterclasses in a Hawaiian shirt“, than sat in front of a screen at home. Brought up in Burgundy and with a background in wine, his heart, he tells us, is with spirit. Wine is always from grapes, he explains, whereas spirit can come from sugar cane, rye, oats etc…, and aged in all sorts of wood.

Going back a few years, Florian tells us he headed off to the USA with just two rums in his backpack in order to share and build experiences in New York with “crazy bartenders”. Returning to Europe, the rum market/interest was beginning to boom but Florent felt the rum wasn’t “honest” – more quantity over quality, added colour, sugar, and additives. He set to change that.

Since 2014, Florent’s core philosophy is as ‘an independent bottler & blender of honest rums’, to bottle spirit as it is in the barrel, and to taste of their origins – for a Jamaican rum to smell & taste like a Jamaican rum. He admits to occasionally adding a little sugar but is open about when this has occurred, by how much, and perhaps most importantly, why. He explains that sometimes 85 grams a litre will be added to ‘suspect rums’, as well as vanilla extract,… making people think this is what rum is. To help educate that drinker used to over-sweetened rum, just a touch of sugar can help them on their way to the unadulterated stuff – so a half-way-house if you will.

The general consensus is clear and positive. As it is, only one of the five rums tonight are adulterated – sugar-wise!!

We start tonight’s flight with a white rum. New to the CDI range, it’s a response to requests from bartenders on Florent’s journey for a decent white rum for mixing.

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Compagnie des Indes Tricorne [2021] Ob. Blended White Rum 43% RR5.6[5]

Tricorne is the French name for the iconic pirates hat. Here, its three corners represent the three general styles of rum throughout the world:

  • 1] Rum Agricole [10%],
  • 2] First-pressed juice [the powerful Batavia Arrack 5%]
  • 3] Molasses rum [85%].

WF[82]: ‘In this case, they’ve blended vesou-based rum (possibly agricole), molasses rum, and Batavia arrack, which is some kind of cane juice-based rum from Indonesia’.

  • N: A touch of [toasted?] grassiness, a hint of pickleback,… Can’t say I get a great deal from the nose, but it’s fair to say this is a ‘no-funny-business’ rum right here.
  • T: Same again really, with regards to the ‘no funny business’. Very cane-faithful, some astringency/firmness and saltiness with a floral fruitiness on the turn.
  • F: Column-y [tequila/vodka] vibes with a soft sweetish vegetal slightly salty grassy/[cocoa]-powdery conclusion.
  • C:You get something interesting for the [cocktail] blend”, says Florian. Not designed as a sipper, but as one, it gets better and better.

Scores 78 points

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Next up is the only rum of tonight’s flight with added sugar.

Compagnie des Indes Latino 5yo [2021] Ob. Blend 40% WF79 RR7.2[27]

TWE: ‘Fresh, elegant rum blended from a number of countries, including Trinidad, Barbados and Guatemala‘.

Florent tells us cognac barrels are drier, more vegetal, and contain less vanillin. There are [“of course“] American oak barrels in use too and 15 grams of organic cane syrup per litre – “that’s 5-7 times less than the industry norm“, says Florian. “In Europe – from 2022“, he adds, “you cannot bottle a rum with 20 grams of sugar per litre and call it rum“.

  • N: Being a blend, it makes for a rounded experience and a pleasing one at that. It’s only when I taste it, do more significant flavours unlock for my nose. Curiously, I get hints of chacaca, pisco, wine, sake,… and an unusual sweet dirty industrial fatiness.
  • T: Whoa, freaky/unexpected. Initially vanilla [lime?] glycerine > acetone rose-water-infused glacier confectionary fruits, cherries, Cherry Aid,…. aah, it’s Dr Pepper!!! According to tinterweb, the 23 flavours of Dr Pepper are ‘cola, cherry, licorice, amaretto (almond, vanilla, blackberry, apricot, blackberry, caramel, pepper, anise, sarsaparilla, ginger, molasses, lemon, plum, orange, nutmeg, cardamon, all spice, coriander juniper, birch and prickly ash’. Take your pick! Aside from the cola and cherry, the amaretto also rings true.
  • F: Dried/tinned [both?] clementines,… and rice paper [as a mouthfeel] over that fruitiness.  Initially concluding on bone-dry amaretto~vanilla,.. then comes the spirit, and then the sugar.
  • C: I totally get the philosophy behind the added sugar in this case. For someone who likes [sweet] adulterated rum, this could well be a gateway. Stylistically, however, it’s rather particular/stylistic [French?]. Some will truly love this.

Scores 79 points

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Turn the rum in the glass”, says Florent – Ralfy styley! ‘Shaky shaky’ releases lighter volatiles and leaves the nose with the harsher ones.

Compagnie des Indes 2010/2020 9yo Ob. Mauritius 42%

Though there might be some differences, CDI can easily produce/replicate their blends each year. This next one however, is from a single cask. From molasses, this is made at the Grays Distillery that make New Grove rum.

WF[86]: ’,.. by law, Mauritius had to distil at above 93% vol. until the early 2000s (a British regulation, apparently) while they’re now allowed to do it lower, so with more ‘congeners’ in the make and so, I suppose, to use pot stills‘.

  • N: Here, we’ve more waxy / > acetone-y [congener?] oddly-phenolic vanilla-vegetal chalky/charcoal-filter funk. The dry confectionary citrus fruits are abundant as too are the pears > ripe yellow apples,… so much so, we aren’t so far from calvados,… also bananas [of course], nectarines,…
  • T: Tastes as it smells. Shortish delivery and more calvados-like fruitiness,… vegetal, dirty-waxy, ashy,… Unusual mouthfeel forming,…
  • F: ,.. the calvados [lychee] vibes continue with a chalky-dry [winey, or is that from the previous Latino blend?] mouthfeel. Others pick up on sherry – sweetened fino < amontillado suggestions,… perhaps! No one is wrong!
  • C: Excellent/recommended molasses-based rum. A malternative for sure,… and perhaps even a Calvadoternative?

Scores 86 points

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This feels like a tough gig for Florent as he sees no-one on his screen but himself. Come on G&M, let’s have more interaction please, especially when your guest is [repeatedly] inviting it. Moving on.

Compagnie des Indes Jamaica 5yo [2021] Ob. Navy Strength 57% WF86 RR7[14]

  • N: Ho Ho, boom!!! We’ve a significant jump in abv. Release the soggy ripe bananas,… waxy soggy bready melon-y funk, burnt brioche / white butter on croissants.,… or is it pancakes? Oh I could go on and on,.. It’s a bold one, malty-esque too.
  • T: That burnt note carries through on the palate. As a Whisky Loving Pianist familiar with malts from sherry-seasoned casks, I’m bracing myself for rubber tyres. This being cane-based spirit [and all that entails], thankfully, they never materialise. It’s more on burnt [Cantaloupe] melons,… and being stylistically Jamaican, do we have something of a Pina colada in a glass? Not particularly though it’s certainly tropical,.. banana, coconut milk/flesh,…pineapple, limes,.. and a firm [burnt] plastic note that seems to blur the more typical funky Jamaican-style character.
  • F: Vanilla seeps through, scorched vegetal [hot-ish] spirit,… that toasted/burnt note mild if remaining throughout. Long finish with all those pineapple-y and orchard fruits continuing in earnest,… all good at the death.
  • C: ‘Take your time’, I tell myself, and yet the rum seems to be disappearing before my very eyes. Florent recommends this in a Mint Julep.

Scores 84 points

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Whilst I march on through my flight, Florian re-emphasises the authenticity of his company. “I don’t like the word ‘hand-crafted, but that’s pretty much it“.

As a reminder:

  • CDI’s core philosophy: an independent bottler & blender of honest rums, to bottle spirit as they are in the barrel, and to taste of their origins.
  • WF: ‘They only bottle pure rum, never sweetened or glycerined ‘junk’. And no fantasy ages‘.

With that in mind, we move onto the fifth & final dram of the night – one from the Boulet de Canon series which translates into English as ‘cannonball’ [aargh!].

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Compagnie des Indes Boulet de Canon No.9 [2021] Ob. 46% [RR]6.5[3]

Florian tells us “I like everything smoky, I like smoked meat, chacuteria, fish, tea, peated whisky,.. The idea behind this [Boulet de Canon] series was to bring the smoky flavours into the rum world”.

Some of these bottles do look like they have age statements on them [hmm?], and yet there is a method to the ‘numbering’. For the even-numbered casks, rum went into peated ex-whisky casks. For the odd-numbered releases, “it’s something other, something weird”. For release #3 for example, Florian took the two strongest smoky teas in the world and mixed them with rum. For cannonball #9 – in a partnership with a [French, duh?] restaurant chain – he mixed rum with rib fat usually destined for bio-fuel [see ‘official’ pic].

  • C: Say what now? This is literally rum and [smoked] meat fat! Florian: “It’s not very sexy, uh?” Industrial Pechuga, perhaps? It tastes as ghastly as it looks and sounds. No score!!

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Huh? What was that message again?

Further reading: https://compagniedesindesrum.com

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END

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