The Tasting Panel magazine

JULY 2012

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Page 116 of 132

CATEGORY REPORT The number of producers of rhum agricole has shrunk over the years. In 1950, there were over 150; now there are only 11 that have AOC designation. While not all producers export to the United States, a number of fantastic rhum agricoles do make it onto our shores, including Clément, Rhum JM, La Favorite, Neisson and St. James. Rhum Clément was the first black- owned distillery in Martinique; the estate was purchased in in 1887 by Homère Clément. The wide range of aged rhums including a 3, 4, 6 and 10 year, along with a superb blend. Perhaps the standout is Clément's 4 year VSOP, which brings together ele- ments reminiscent of cognac with the grassiness of rhum agricole. The citrus spice and smoky notes in Clément's 10 year release pair perfectly with a robust cigar. CLÉMENT USA 116 / the tasting panel / july 2012 The Rhum J.M distillery is set amid the lush greenery of northern Martinique. Neisson is highly revered for its white rhum, one of the best produced on Martinique. Neisson uses sugarcane from 16 different farms, each pressed, fermented and distilled separately. The extra-long fermentation process lasts three days, a full day longer than most other distilleries. Neisson also uses a unique Savalle creole still, hand-built and made entirely of copper. While Neisson does some amazing aged rhum, it's the white rhum that is truly spectacular; soft, sweet and grassy with lovely complexity, it is so well crafted that it's hard to believe it's 100 proof. CARIBBEAN SPIRITS INC. La Favorite has perhaps the most rustic operation on the island. The distillery is run entirely on steam power from burning 116, the leftovers from the sugarcane extraction process. La Favorite is the funkiest of the Martinique rhum agricoles, with deep grassy notes that jump out of the glass. The distillery produces some of the best aged rhums in the world. La Favorite Vieux is available here; others will require a trip to Martinique. CARIBBEAN SPIRITS INC. The opportunity in the United States for rhum agricole is immense. The spirit is still emerging but with an enthusiastic following. With its AOC designation, rhum agricole has the same kind of seal of quality that goes along with revered spirits like cognac. In its aged form, rhum agricole has many elements that appeal to whiskey drinkers, but delivered in a way that's softer and more approachable. The ambassador for rhum agricole is the 'Ti-Punch (see sibebar), with the capac- ity to put this wonderful spirit in front of a new generation of imbibers. IMAGE COURTESY OF RHUM CLÉMENT

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