Plantation “Grand Cru” / “Gran Añejo”
Guatemala & Belize
Industrial Rum – from a modern multi column still.
ABV Hydrometer Test: 36% ABV @ 20°
* M S
Plantation describe themselves as producing “an artisanal range of rums from the great terroirs of the tropics.” From a rum enthusiasts point of view, they appear to have found themselves a rather handy niche in the rum market, sitting between the basic run-of-the-mill and found in every pub/bar offerings from companies such as Bacardi and the more artisanal top-of-the-range and single-cask rums from well known producers such as Foursquare. As such, Plantation rums are generally quite keenly priced – £20 or so for their Three-Stars White Rum and around £30-£45 for their others. The range is continually evolving as Plantation produce new an innovative editions of rums and “finishes.”
The rum I am tasting today is one of Plantation’s “Signature Blends” from Guatemala & Belize and is described on the bottle as “Grand Cru” / “Gran Añejo.” I am not a fan of these kinds of descriptions as they do not really mean anything. “Grand Cru” is from the world of wine and “Gran Añejo” is used to describe Spanish rums or other spirits that often hide behind dubious Solera age-statements by using such terminology. But, in the case of Plantation, no deception is intended as there is no age statement nor implication that the rum is of a certain age.
As with all Plantation rums, this one has “benefited” from double ageing. In reality, this means that the rum was aged in its country of origin in ex-Bourbon oak casks for a period of time and then shipped over to the Château de Bonbonnet in France where it is then further aged in different casks, with the intention of adding some additional flavours from the secondary ageing. Great ideas in principle and it offers something extra, but Plantation DO add extra post ageing-sugar to their products, which is not ideal, although what IS refreshing is that they do admit they do it and do not pretend it does not happen, although there is no reference to this practice on this particular bottle.
The amount of ageing is something that I think Plantation needs to add to their labelling going forwards. Thankfully, they have some useful info on their web site, specifically, that this rum has had “approx 2-3 years” of “tropical ageing” followed by “approx 1 year” of “continental ageing” or using the historic French wine-ageing term “élevage” meaning “the progression of wine between fermentation and bottling.” Interestingly, there is a “slight touch of vesou” in the rum, in addition to molasses. For those that do not know the term vesou, the Wikipedia definition is “the juice obtained by crushing sugar cane and passing it through a press.”
When tested with my hydrometers, this rum measured 36% compared to the label’s stated 42%. This implies that there are 23g of added sugars!
I think it is safe to assume that under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as “Industrial Rum” – from a modern multi column still.
This rum comes in an outer cardboard box, which simply has the product name on it. As with all Plantation rums, this has the usual distinctive netting wrapped around the bottles – this is great from a branding/marketing point of view. I do like that Plantation have included some information about the rum – it has been fermented for four days and column distilled, although no mention of what type of column. There is some info about the double-ageing of the rum, along with tasting notes but no mention of the added sugars nor the amounts of ageing.
This is an orangey-gold colour with quite heavy and sticky legs in the glass. The initial aroma is of orange/tangerine with a hint of pineapple and faint tobacco. There is a dominating sweetness with additional aromas of fresh honey and vanilla with some subtle wood underneath.
Taste, Initial-middle 29/40
There is a deceptively powerful fire when you first sip this rum…not unpleasant, but slightly surprising. It has an initial sweetness leading to the orange aromas becoming more flavourful…like orange peel or even marmalade, mixed with some oak, along with a heavy dose of sweet honey and a hint of nutty caramel. This is a very Spanish-style rum at this point i.e. not a lot of complex rum flavours and sweet.
Taste, Middle/Throat 30/40
It is quite viscous and sticky, but not overly sweet. The orange notes continue in the profile of this rum, joined with heavier woody flavours alongside some nutty dark chocolate. There is a hint of vanilla in the background, too and a hint of spice, notably nutmeg.
There is only a faint afterburn, the rum is tamed by the addition of too much sugar, making the end ABV too low for a proper afterburn. The finish is quite soft, but also light, short and restrained.
Morning After Aroma
A little honey and vanilla remains.
This is very easy drinking and there is nothing offensive about this, but also, nothing significant to make this stand out from the crowd. The orange and sweetness dominate throughout, making it quite straight forward and easy-going, but there are few “rum” flavours to make one want to return to this time and again. Yes, it is smooth, but that is the sugar speaking!
I do not think this rum benefits from the additional sugar and I would love to try this unsweetened. I think it would be far more enjoyable without being tainted by added sugar. Whilst the label states 42% this tastes more like the measured level of 36%. Obviously, I am not implying the rum is not the stated 42% ABV, but this would be far more tasty without the additives, as it does taste a bit tame.
Not a classic, but at £30, it is pretty good value for a casual tipple when you fancy something sweet.
P Denotes the rum contains POT still distillate.
C Denotes the rum contains traditional/Coffey COLUMN still distillate.
B Denotes the rum contains a BLEND of POT and COLUMN still distillate.
M Denotes the rum contains MULTI-COLUMN still distillate or is a MODERN rum.
A Denotes the rum is an AGRICOLE i.e. from Cane Juice.
S Denotes the rum is presented in a SWEETENED style.
Bottle/Presentation Out of 3
Glass/Aroma Out of 10
Taste, Initial-middle Out of 40
Taste, Middle/Throat Out of 40
Afterburn Out of 7
5 thoughts on “Plantation Guatemala & Belize”
That’s a nice review my man, and a very lovely website you have. Thanks for sharing the love of rum 🙂
I’m a little confused, however, by the comment, ‘the label’s 42% would make this far more tasty if it actually was that strength rather than the post-sugar level of 36%, which makes it taste rather tame.’. What does this mean?
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I meant to declare that I work for Plantation. Nice to meet you!
Thanks for your comments.
Many rum producers put additives in rums. Things such as sugar, glycerine, vanillin and wine. These not only alter the flavour but also the amount of alcohol (ABV) of the drink.
In this case, although the bottle’s label states 42%, I have measured the density of the drink with a hydrometer, and it shows the actual ABV as being 36%, demonstrating that Plantation have altered the rum with additives. Whilst this is not a precise scientific measurement, it is estimated that around 23g of sugar per litre has been added to this rum. This is not implying the liquid is not 42%.
If you test rums from Jamaica and Barbados, the ABV will *ALWAYS* be the same as what the label says because neither country permits rums to be altered or artificially sweetened.
The idea is to put the information out into the public domain allowing rum consumers to be more informed about what they are buying/drinking for them to make up their own minds about if a rum is pure or good value etc. No harm intended!
Hi again Paul,
Not a problem if you are from Plantation. I do not have an issue with the added sugars from Plantation as they do not hide it nor pretend it does not happen.