Plantation Haiti XO
ABV Hydrometer Test: 37% ABV @ 20°
* M S
I am sure by now that most people are very familiar with Plantation rums and what they are. Plantation’s unique double-ageing has given them a distinct niche in the rum world. The combination of tropical and European ageing and the use of different barrels for the secondary ageing allows Plantation to create lots of varied styles of rums. Although most of their bottlings contain added sugar, they do not pretend it does not happen, which earns a lot of respect from myself. That said, if they were to add no sweeteners to their rums, I generally think their rums would be finer than they already are, although that might reduce their appeal to the sweet-toothed consumers.
The rum I am tasting today is “Single Cask Haiti XO.” The rum has spent eight years ageing in ex-Bourbon casks in the tropics, followed by three years in White Pineau “Ferrand” casks i.e. 11 years in total. For those that do not know, White Pineau is a French fortified wine, typically 17% ABV. This is a “Limited edition bottled for [the] Mercury Bar” and I have bottle number 098 from cask 1. There is no information about how many bottles exist though.
When tested with my hydrometers, the ABV reads 37%, compared to the label’s 41%, therefore implying that around 16g / litre of sugar has been added.
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this cannot be classified due to the additives.
I bought this at the Nottingham Rum Festival after a great chat with Chris Amey from Identity Drinks Brands. He did not have any for me to taste, he only had one bottle left for sale and so on his recommendation, I bought it and I have spent the last week tasting it and writing notes for this review.
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’s ageing process, although there is no info about how the rum was actually created i.e. type of still used. There are some tasting notes, although stating that the nose is “complex, earthy, rum of pure cane juice proudly showing characteristics from ancient noble farms” is not particularly insightful nor useful. The additives are not directly referenced either.
Having asked Chris at ID Brands, he confirmed the still is a pot-column hybrid. He also said that the distillery info had not been disclosed.
Using the term XO does not have any significance in the rum world, so I am assuming this is just extra marketing. Even in the world of brandy, XO only represents a minimum of six years ageing so I do not see the relevance for this product, which as been aged for 11 years. It does highlight the need for better reclassification of rums with terms that are clearly defined and understood.
This rum is a deep amber to copper colour with slight orange hues. As with most rums, it is artificially coloured. The legs on the side of the glass are a medium density, but are also quite sticky, though quick to drop down the sides of the glass.
Dry plums and smoky wood are the initial aromas. There is also some burnt caramel and marmalade. Further nosings reveal some ripe banana and pungent spices. The nose is very distinctly of pot stills, but it does not remind me of an agricole style rum as it does not have the grassy, vegetal aromas that I associate with that style of rum.
Taste, Initial-middle 28/40
The rum has a bit of pot still fire on entry to the mouth. It starts the tasting off in a very lively way, although the flavours are a little lacking here. Beyond the fire, there is an initial bitterness to the rum with the plum aromas giving off the flavours of an eau-de-vie as well as some distinct licorice and a hint of vanilla.
Taste, Middle/Throat 37/40
This is where the rum has much more energy and life to it. The rum’s initial fire continues through the mid-palate and to the back of the throat, leaving behind the initial bitter notes, replacing them with bold spiciness, zesty citrus, fruity pineapple and warming coconut. There is also an abundance of oak and some subtle almond nuttiness in the background. There is an astringency to the rum that gives your mouth a surprisingly dry feel.
Towards the back of the throat, there is a hint of sweetness that you can feel rather than taste. It has quite a quick finish to it, but despite that it is a tasty end and leaves behind a feeling rather than a flavouring.
This rum has a really pleasant afterburn. You can feel it warming your throat as you swallow, but it is not rough, nor does it actually burn. Inevitably, the slightly sweet finish to the rum helps this to avoid being rough and balances the pot still fires. Despite the aforementioned quick finish, the burn is an enjoyable one.
Morning After Aroma
Brown sugar aromas are still present, albeit a little faint.
This rum includes fire, spice, citrus, bitterness, dryness and sweetness. In other words, it takes you on an interesting journey through a variety of experiences, all of which are pretty damn tasty. The use of pot stills gives this rum a real presence…..some life and vigour. Quite why 41% ABV is deemed to be better than the standard 40% or the often used 43/46% I do not know. It is possibly an extension of the master Blender’s skills whereby he believes an extra 1% makes enough difference to justify it.
Inevitably, I am bound to say that I would prefer this rum to be unsweetened, although if it was, the initial bitter plum notes might be too dominant for most people to be able to enjoy it. Perhaps it might be more like a Guyanese Port Mourant style rum. As it is, you can feel the sweetness, but it is not sticky or unpleasant.
Plantation rums are always very keenly priced and at £35, this is excellent value for an 11 year old rum. It is also an excellent introduction to cane juice/agricole rums as this is not as grassy and vegetal as many agricoles, yet it is fully flavoured and well balanced. It is reminiscent of the St. Lucia Distilleries 1931 Fifth Edition albeit not as strong and powerful.
This is one of the better Plantation rums I have tasted to date and is certainly something different to many of their other rums that I find can be a little too sweet for my palate.
So, great recommendation thanks Chris!
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