Cadenhead’s GMBV Bellevue Distillery 17yo
Traditional Rum – From a traditional column still.
ABV Hydrometer Test: 54% ABV @ 20°
Today, I am tasting a 17 year old cask strength offering from The Bellevue Distillery in Guadeloupe. Technically, it is actually from Marie Galante, a dependency of Guadeloupe, which is an overseas department and an overseas region of France.
My knowledge of Bellevue extends as far as knowing about Damoiseau, the distillery owner, a well known producer of Rhum Agricole. So, this should be a rhum agricole. To confirm this, I contacted Cadenhead’s who have very helpfully given me some info and confirmed that it is indeed made from fresh cane juice. That makes this tasting a rare foray into the agricole rhum world for me.
What I love to see from Cadenhead’s is their label on the rear of the boxes and bottles referencing their rums being bottled at cask strength, uncoloured and not chill filtered. Not only that, but they do not add anything to their rums, or indeed any of the products. Just to be on the safe side, I have tested the rum with my hydrometers and can confirm the ABV reading of around 54% – my hydrometer is not sufficiently accurate to measure the extra point three of a percent!
According to Cadenhead’s, the 17 years of ageing has taken place almost entirely in Campbeltown, Scotland. The rum was transported at cask strength and matured in ex-Bourbon barrels. My preference is generally for rums to have more tropical ageing, which seems to add more to a rum than European ageing, though.
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Traditional Rum – From a traditional column still.
Presented in Cadenhead’s distinctive liveried box, this rum is in a slightly squat bottle. The outer box and bottle front has a label containing the information pure rum drinkers want to know. Where the rum is from, Guadeloupe, the distillery name, which is Bellevue, the type of still, in this case column, the year the rum was bonded (1998) and bottled (September 2015) and the ABV, which is 54.3%. Full marks here for disclosure of information!
The rum is a deep amber with a hint of orange. There is no artificial colouring so this has come entirely from those 17 years of ageing in barrels. The legs are thick and heavy. They trickle very slowly down the sides of the glass. Unsurprisingly due to the ABV, the alcohol is the most potent initial aroma. Get underneath this and one can find an abundance of oak, some caramel, brown sugar and cinnamon. In fact it is surprisingly sweet, almost along the lines of a Demerara Rum. There is an almost breath mint type aroma with some eucalyptus helping to de-congest you.
Taste, Initial-middle 32/40
This rum arrives in your mouth softly and smoothly as if it does not want to disturb you too much. There is a herbal taste, something quite grassy and also a hint of plum. A touch of sweetness follows to coat the roof of your mouth, preparing you for what is to come. As this hits the middle of the mouth, it is as if you have just lit the blue touch-paper as it fires into life releasing some medicinal licorice along with some ripe fruity raisins and more plums.
Taste, Middle/Throat 33/40
As the fire starts, the arrival of more flavours continues. There is some citrus, orange, honey and oak. I think the oak presence keeps this rum very much on the dry side at this point, too. There is a little bit of spice, notably cinnamon, some aniseed, cloves and a touch of black pepper. As you swallow, the two main flavours are oak and plum and there is a slightly bitter after-taste.
Despite the higher ABV, this does not melt your throat. There is that underlying agricultural medicinal taste lingering, but there is also a lot of dry oak and plums that produces a very long finish.
Morning After Aroma
Bitter plum along with some oak and Demerara sugar.
If you are not used to drinking cask strength or powerful rums, this will be way too strong for you, even with some added water. But if you like your rums with fire, presence and some real oomph, then this is ideal.
Cadenhead always turn out good quality offerings and you are guaranteed no additives whatsoever, which is a big plus.
Speaking as someone who rarely enjoys agricultural rhums, this has surprised me. It still has some of those medicinal, grassy notes that make me not always enjoy agricultural rhum, but there is so much more going on with this, that I can ignore those parts I do not like and enjoy the good bits, of which there are many. This is available now for around £100 or €100 depending on where you look, although Cadenhead’s themselves do not stock it anymore. I would say at £100 it is expensive for what it is, but if you do splash the cash, you will not be disappointed. The original £60 price tag was probably closer to the rum’s value though.
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