Compagnie des Indes Barbados Multi Distilleries 20yo Rum
Blended Rum – a blend of only pot still and traditional column still
ABV Hydrometer Test: 45% ABV @ 20°
Compagnie des Indes is a French company paying homage to the historic East India [trading] Company, importing pure rums. Their intention is to showcase fine rums without additives.
This is a new offering, bottled in October 2016, having been distilled way back in January 1996, making it a 20 year old rum. The rum is from “multi distilleries” and is 45% ABV. My bottle is number 214 out of 394 and is from barrel BVR5. This has been bottled in France without cold filtration.
Unusually, from my experience, this Bajan rum is a blend from multiple distilleries as opposed to rum acquired from just one producer. Compagnie des Indes’ (CdI) web site references three Bajan distilleries, Cockspur, Foursquare and Mount Gay but does not actually state that this rum is comprised of all three, nor do they reference the types of still used. So, I approached CdI to ask about which distilleries and they said “I can’t disclose all of them but I can tell you that they [sic] are three. Foursquare, WIRD and another one.” Now that is a fascinating response. Is it that the ‘third’ distillery wishes to remain anonymous and if so, why? We may never know…..
The reassuring thing about a bottling from CdI is that the rum is unaltered. Just to be sure though, I tested this with my hydrometers and found this rum was exactly what it says on the label, 45%.
There is no reference to the proportion of column-pot still product in this blend so I asked CdI who told me “Mostly Column like around 70%.” This makes me inclined to expect the rum to be quite smooth.
One of the big debates in the rum community is the difference between tropical and European ageing. In addition to the additional Angel’s Share attributed to ageing in warmer climes, it is generally acknowledged that the tropical ageing imparts more flavours or at the very least, concentrates those flavours somewhat more than European ageing. With this in mind, I asked CdI about the ageing balance and they told me the “Rum [was] aged 2 years in Barbados and the rest in Europe.” Instinctively, that makes me think that this rum is more akin to something like a 10-12 year old tropical-aged rum.
I also asked Cdi about when the rum was blended and they told me that “the rum was blended at its arrival in Europe and aged as a multi distillery blend.”
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Blended Rum” – a blend of only pot still and traditional column still.
At this point, I would like to say a big thank you to Compagnie des Indes for their helpful responses to my questions to assist me with my review of this rum.
The Compagnie des Indes branding and packaging is distinctive. There is a standard outer [flimsy, cardboard] box housing an ordinary looking bottle. On the bottle is a useful label displaying info about number of bottles, distillation and bottling dates and the barrel used. It would be nice to reference the use of pot/column stills. There is a basic, but welcome, cork enclosure and the brightly coloured labels on the bottles are distinctive.
My first impression is how pale the colour of this rum is. It is straw like and does not look especially appealing. Does that mean this rum has been aged in secondary refill casks rather than first fill? That said, I have come to realise that the colour of a rum does not make much, if any difference to the actual flavour, especially as many producers add caramel colouring anyway (although not Compagnie des Indes).
The aromas are powerful and pungent pot still ones, reminiscent of a funky Jamaican rum, something Hampden-esque. There are dried fruits, notably raisins and some plummy notes, too. There is a subtle hint of sweetness…toffee tinged with varnish as well as some old oak and a hint of smoky tobacco.
Taste, Initial-middle 33/40
Smooth and gentle on entry despite the 45% ABV. The first flavour is spicy raisins, almost like a Christmas pudding or an El Dorado 21yo minus the added sugar. Some black pepper and a hint of toffee are also present. At this point, the rum is very soft and gentle and quite typical of a Bajan-style rum especially with its creamy texture.
Taste, Middle/Throat 36/40
Around the middle of the mouth this rum has a bit of a tantrum, revealing some fire and vigour. The initial softness is a distant memory as black peppery spice combines with some citrus and cloves. The fire is lively and as per the aroma profile, this now tastes and feels like Jamaican rather than Bajan rum. The fruit levels are raised up, too…there are bananas, raisins and plums, even a touch of bitter orange. At no point is this rum sweet but there are hints of caramel and molasses in the background and an underlying creaminess that reminds me of other Bajan rums. A lingering oak flavour is the final detectable aspect of this rum as you swallow.
This rum has a bit of a fiery finish and it lasts forever, again reminiscent of Jamaican pot still rums from Hampden. The pepperyness lingers long after swallowing but is also joined by a hint of bitterness from the plums and a lasting creamy finish.
Morning After Aroma
The pot still aromas and raisins are still there along with a hint of toffee.
If I had not read the label, I would have said this is a fine Jamaican rum. But as this is actually from Barbados, it changes the preconceptions one has about the profile and flavours of Bajan rum. This demonstrates that rums from Barbados can have many different personalities including funky pot still Jamaican styles such as this.
There is a good balance between fire and smoothness and this rum offers complexity and varying flavours with multiples tastings. There is also an underlying creaminess that reminds me of St. Nicholas Abbey 5 yo.
I think this is a rum that if I revisit and taste again in a few weeks or even months, I will probably rate it even higher. It has the kind of flavours that will continue to evolve with each taste. It is as if someone has taken some Hampden pot still and tamed it by adding some Bajan column distillate. At €105 it is not cheap, but for a 20 year old unadulterated Bajan rum, it is quite reasonable, given the high Angel’s share over such a long ageing period.
More info at Compagnie des Indes‘ web site.
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