Single Agricole Rum: 100% from cane juice using a traditional column still.
Anyone who enjoys agricole will have heard of Clément and Habitation Saint Etienne (HSE) and they will probably know they come from Martinique. But, ask drinkers of these rhums which distillery creates the juice for those brands and they might not know the answer. Well, that was the case with me!
I am not a huge agricole expert, although I do love drinking the stuff and have a great collection, but it often represents a gap in my rum knowledge. So, when I found out about a distillery with the same name as me, I investigated further and discovered the link between Rhumerie du Simon, Clément and HSE.
The Rhumerie du Simon has been in operation since 1862. In 2006, the nearby Habitation du Simon started production on its own rhum – A1710, so called because 1710 was the year when the founders of the family (Assier) first arrived on Martinique. I will be reviewing A1710 in the future.
This particular edition is a unique offering by The Duchess and was distilled in 2004 and bottled towards the end of 2019 after ageing for 15 years in ex-bourbon barrels, four of which were in Martinique. It is presented at a stonking cask strength of 61%. Just 196 bottles have been released making this a real rarity.
Under the proposed rum re-categorisation, this would be classed as a “Single Agricole Rhum” 100% from cane juice using a traditional column still
The bottle is slightly squat with an artificial cork enclosure. There is useful info such as the length of ageing (a guaranteed minimum age of 15 years), the 61% ABV and the number of bottles produced.
As always with The Duchess rums, the label is exquisitely adorned with an elegantly painted image by Hans Dillesse.
For this edition, it is a hummingbird, native to Martinique.
Despite the length of ageing, the rhum is quite a pale, straw-like colour.
This rhum has fine dotted legs that are very slow to slide down the sides of my glass.
The initial aroma is very overpowering – too much alcohol giving off menthol fumes. Some time in the glass allows the fumes to calm down somewhat revealing a very oakey tobacco smoke. Pouring the rhum into my Neat glass instead allows me to get into the rhum without the high ABV interfering and reveals caramelised bananas and bales of hay. Adding a few drops of water releases the fruity notes leaving an apple and raisin compote and pear drops.
Taste, Initial-middle 32/40
As I would have expected from the nosing, this rhum’s powerful ABV is somewhat overwhelming when drunk neat. It is fiery, with spicy pepper and vegetal grassy notes. As with the nosing, adding water reveals some fruity notes of apples and pears, especially in the mid-palate, alongside a hint of caramel.
Taste, Middle/Throat 35/40
Towards the rear of the palate, the raw fire calms leaving more spicy black pepper behind alongside nuanced oak tannins, ash and ginger. Some more pear notes appear when diluted with a few drops of water, which helps the rhum to taste sweeter.
There is a long afterburn dominated by spicy pepper and ginger. There is also a smokey tobacco note, too.
It is not often you find aged agricole offered at cask strength like this and at a very affordable price. That said, at 61%, it is challenging to drink and enjoy, but with a few drops of water, the nose becomes more agreeable and the flavours come out to play. This is definitely one of those rhums to drink from a Neat glass to ensure the alcohol fumes do not interfere with the drinking experience.
I also think that this rhum benefits from multiple tastings in order to enhance your enjoyment and appreciation.
This is obviously a distillery to keep an eye on going forwards as the juice they are producing is top notch. The nearby Habitation du Simon, which produces A1710 are fine rhums too (a review will follow in due course).
Likewise, The Duchess are a fine independent bottler and each release is exciting especially when it is something new and unusual like this release.
The Duchess web site is here.
Purchase The Duchess from my favourite rum shop here.
Review No. 135
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