Rhum Rhum is the brand born out of the collaboration between Velier’s Luca Gargano, master distiller Gianni Capovilla and the Marie-Galante based distillery Bielle. What’s so special about Rhum Rhum is that they are almost trying to reinvent the production of Rhum Agricole. To that end, they experimented with new fermentation, distillation and ageing techniques. What they came up with was to ferment the fresh cane juice without water for about seven to ten days (!) and then double distilling it in a copper pot still. After all, how many producers of agricole do you know that have such long fermentation periods and utilise pot stills? The result is a product that I am quite fond of personally.
Usually, their aged products state the year of bottling rather than distillation, i.e. when it has been ‘Liberated’ from the cask. My guess is that a) they don’t want to put any emphasis on the age of the spirit and simply decide to bottle it when they think “it is done” and b) many consumers might still have prejudices against ‘younger’ distillates and do not fully understand the implications of tropical ageing yet. Whatever it is, with this one it’s different and I am very sure that it is the oldest product released under the Rhum Rhum label so far. Bottled in 2017 for Velier’s 70th Anniversary, it should be 10 years old, after which typically not a whole lot is left in a barrel when it has been maturing in the Caribbean. What is more, at least with agricole style rums you run the risk of getting too many undesired bitter notes rather quickly when ageing in tropical climate.
Dégustation “Rhum Rhum 2007”
Nose: It’s unmistakably a Rhum Rhum product and probably comes closest to the Liberation 2015 Integrale. It’s rather heavy and lofty, almost noble and very complex. I get ripe prunes, a mix of dried fruits and black tea at the end. It smells a bit like gorp without the raisins and only a few, well-selected nuts. Even though it’s a very recent product, it’s very much an old school type rhum. Well, it is much rather old school meets new school but it is always classy and I must say how refreshing it is to see that some producers just seem to get what we want. With agricole, Rhum Rhum is the only brand that can really reproduce this special feeling if you ask me (not taking away from other producers but this is simply different!). After a while I also get the typical Bielle-notes of cereal and even though they are by no means dominant, they are quite eclectic and intense I’d say. Aged pot still agricole is just the nuts.
Palate: The profile is dry and bitter with heavy notes of gorp and dried fruits. Then immediately the prunes from the nose. Now also way more black tea than I’ve found before, which adds a pleasant bitterness to the rhum. With the second sip I further get bitter oranges and other similar essences. Here and there I can also detect a light herbal note, mostly mediterranean, which quickly gets lost in the bitterness of the black tea. After another sip, the dried fruits and prunes move further into the background and the black tea becomes even more dominant. The profile is becoming increasingly bitter, which I think is a real pity. I have the feeling that some exotic spices are hiding behind all of this but they cannot assert themselves against the other flavours, contrary to the other Rhum Rhums I know.
Finish: Long and bitter with plenty of black tea. Not much more, unfortunately.
The Rhum Rhum 2007 is one heck of a rhum with two decisive flaws. First, the bitterness of the black tea becomes annoying a bit too quickly. It is as if you have let your tea brew for a bit too long. Taking out the tea bag just a minute earlier would have helped tremendously here. Second, it is almost impossible to get. Not too many bottles of this baby exist and many have probably been passed on among friends without even getting the chance to see the market. I got to try it thanks to the German distributer Kirsch Whisky who decided not to sell their contingency but to hand out drams at fairs instead. Way to go, guys!
Other impressions: This is what Roger had to say about it.