Today we examine a large part of the (new) Neisson range. Their previous range was great already, as were their special bottlings. I’ve heard that the new range might be even better. It’s about time we find it out for ourselves. But first some background information.
The plantation of the Neisson family dates back to 1922, their distillery to 1931. Today it is run by the founders’ children, who control about 9000 acres of sugar cane. Fermentation typically last for about three days, after which the wines are distilled in a single column coppper savalle still to 65-70%. The raw distillate is then stored for about three months in stainless steel vats and subsequently, if inteded for further ageing, in french or american oak barrels for a minimum of four years.
The tasting will be done semi-blindly, meaning that I know which rhums are included but not which tasting glass contains which exact rhum.
Addendum after the tasting: To be honest, it wasn’t incredibly difficult to figure out which bottling was hiding in which glass. Percentage wise, we have two camps, one below 50%, one above. What is more, each group contains one relatively young and a more mature blend (well, relatively spoken, actually they are all very mature). Put differently, the differences in abv might have biased this semi-blind tasting but the only thing we could have done about it would be to dilute all rums to the same abv and then adjust the volume in the glass. This is not what I want to do since differences in abv are typically an important aspect of a r(h)um’s quality.
Neisson Vieux (45%): Like all Neissons, the nose contains plenty of glue, even though it is probably more pronounced in a few of the other expressions. It’s a very nice mix. There are coconuts and walnuts, as well as cheescake. Then muscat, cumin and cloves. The glue evaporates after a while, leaving a more floral and fruity bouquet. The first sip is very mild and balanced with unripe red grapes and many different dark berries (e.g. blue- and blackberries). With the second sip I also get the full dosage of vanilla. The finish is nutty again, brining back the aromas from the nose. It doesn’t leave much to be desired but Neisson can do even better!
Neisson Profil 105 (54,2%): Interesting, this is quite different from the others. In the nose I can find green apples, citrus, blueberries and whipped cream, also joghurt perhaps. The rum has a pleasant balance between sour and sweet elements. Later also muscat and coffee beans. Another highly aromatic rhum. With the first sip I am surprised by a flavour profile which is quite different from the nose. In fact, it is dominated by spices and way drier than expected. There are cardamon, cloves, muscat, and caraway, you name it. We get a few sour apples here and there but that’s it with fruity elements. It’s slightly bitter and now a bit reminiscent of blood oranges. In a sense it has a few similarities with some Whiskys. You’ll notice its relative juvenility compared to the other rhums of the session but I don’t really mind it. The finish is rather short with barley, citrus fruits and spices. Nicely done.
Neisson XO (48,5%): I also had the chance to compare this to the old XO (the one with the green cap) and I must say that the new one is a whole lot better. Generally I must say that having a high quality agricole with 48,5% permanently available is just great. Nose: The rhum needs some time to fully open up but once it does we are in for something special. Glue, apricot jam, walnuts, orange zest and then plenty of aromas from the cask. Now also a fresh basket of pears and bananas. Let’s take a sip. Mhhhh. Simply wonderful. Sweet pastry meets sour apples, peppery spices meet delicate nuts. All coated in vanilla sauce. We get an extremely harmonious interaction between the different notes, perhaps with some emphasis on the sour elements. The longer I sip the more difficult it becomes to get images of apple strudel out of my head. Finish: Muscat, orange zest, bitter & woody chocolate. Very nice. Perhaps the most balanced of the bunch and probably the one that will suit most palates.
Neisson 12YO (52,7%): This one needs quite some time to fully open up. It seems that the necessary time is an increasing function in age. In the nose I get a a fresh, almost unripe fruit basket (mostly sour apples), glue, cereals, cinnamon and vanilla as well as sweet marzipan loaf. It takes a while until the woody notes push to the fore, but once they do they are very prominent. At the palate we get more spices, mostly cloves and cinnamon. Then plenty of wood and dried cereals. The alcohol is nicely integrated, the cask definitely did its job and enriched the rum with plenty of additional notes. It’s always decidedly Neisson however, the wood did not destroy the distillery’s character. The rhum gets woodier and more and more bitter with every subsequent sip, perhaps even a bit too bitter for some palates. It’s now rather tannic. The fruit, which was so dominant in the nose, has a hard time to get through all the (now I’d say Moroccan) spices. The finish is dry, woody and bitter. Rather unspectacular with notes of walnuts. Yet another great but only the second best of todays range!
We have good and bad news. The good news is that all tasted Neissons are simply excellent. It seems that these agricoles really have been made for my palate. Moreover, quality-wise the differences between the bottlings are not very large, the overall level is very high. The bad news is that I seem to like the more expensive bottlings the most, i.e. the Neisson 12YO and the Neisson XO. Oh well, what can we do about it. It is also a bit reassuring that at least with Neisson you get what you pay for. And I could even discern this blindy. This definitely speaks for the producer! I’d say the XO definitely provides great value for money, the 12YO might be a bit too expensive though. What is more, I don’t think the 12YO is as good as the Neisson Vieux Single Cask 2004, which was less pricy. Personally, I got myself a bottle of the oh so lovely XO but you really cannot go wrong with any of these!
Once again a big THANKS goes to Malte for the bottle splits.
Other impressions: Well, more or less most of the reviewers out there seem to like Neisson. Why not, right!? Lance reviewed the (old) Neisson Vieux, L’Homme and Cyril all of them here, here and here. Roger has the Neisson Profil 105. Please let me know if I forgot someone.