Ryoma Rum 7yo
Pure Single Agricole Rum – 100% Pot Still from cane juice
ABV Hydrometer Test: 40% ABV @ 20°
* P A
Usually when one thinks of drinks from Japan, one thinks Sake or Whisky, but the country actually produces a lot of rum, too, including this cane-juice pot still agricole from Ryoma that I am tasting today.
My first encounter with Japanese Rum was a couple of years ago at UK RumFest when I tasted Nine Leaves so this is not completely new territory.
Thanks to a Google search, I have discovered that Ryoma is created by Kikusui Distillery, located in Kuroshio south of Shikoku Island, and is one of the oldest Japanese rum producers. Ryoma Rum is named after Sakamoto Ryoma, a prominent figure in the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate during the Bakumatsu period in Japan.
Using pure cane juice and batch pot still distillation is expensive and artesenal so although £55 might seem like a lot of money for a rum, the methods involved help to justify that price tag.
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Pure Single Agricole Rum” – 100% Pot Still from cane juice. My hydrometer test detected no added sugars.
Inside the outer box, there is a black, opaque, slightly dumpy-shape bottle. It has distinctive white lettering on the rather simple label and I think this looks like a bottle of Sake. Whilst it may look distinctive, it contains little or no information about the actual rum itself although curiously despite being made entirely from cane juice, the rear label lists the ingredients as “Brown cane sugar, Molasses.”
In the glass, the rum presents itself as a very pale and straw-like colour. I am assuming it is uncoloured as I do not think you would choose to have a drink this colour, but as I often say, I really do not pay much attention to a rum’s colour, whether natural or not.
The aroma reminds me of Ginjo Sake. I could have a glass of it in my hand, such are the floral, slightly medicinal and herbal notes. Further nosings reveal a hint of sweet tropical fruit and a feint background of light oak. It is certainly unusual and distinctive although bears little resemblance to a typical tot of rum. But then, rum should have its own character from the terroir where it was created, so I would not want Japanese rum to taste like Caribbean rums.
Taste, Initial-middle 20/40
There is a beautifully soft and delicate entry. One could be forgiven for thinking it is Sake and feels as if it is sub 20% ABV. The initial tasting is dry and light, but lacking in very distinct flavours and certainly nothing reminiscent of traditional rum flavours. It has a slightly industrial profile, almost lacking in character. It is not bad, but there just is not much to it at this point.
Taste, Middle/Throat 28/40
By the middle of one’s mouth, this rum develops a warming, pleasant mouth feel to it. The recurring theme of this tasting…..Sake aromas are noticeable as flavours – delicate, subtle, floral with a hint of soft vanilla. The dryness becomes a little sweeter in the mid-palate, but once again moves towards dryness as it touches the back of your throat. There is a grassyness to this, too as I often find with agricoles.
This has a medium-length finish and is quite dry with light oak in the background.
Morning After Aroma
There are no discernible aromas remaining in the glass.
Given that this is from a pot still, it is surprisingly light, but with that lightness comes a lack of rum-feel, taste and presence. It is not bad juice nor is it a bad drink, but it is not something that a rum drinker will want to return to time and time again. Its highlight is that it is a very unique taste and flavour profile, but equally, this is also its biggest downside – I just cannot convince myself throughout the tasting, that I am actually drinking rum. Given its lightness, it does not work well as a mixed drink either, although a simple rum and tonic is acceptable.
The way this rum is made is to be admired, though – cane juice and pot stills are an expensive combination and on that basis, I feel we should do whatever we can to support and promote these types of rum. But due to the aforementioned flavour-profile, this creates a bit of a paradox for me as I would probably not buy another bottle of Ryoma.
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