It's spring and that's the season to reach for Agricole. Its lighter character with grassy, earthy notes seems to suit the warming days. Digging through the rum closet I discovered three bottles from different distillers that frankly I forgot I had. With no taste memory to interfere with my impressions, it was fun to re-make their acquaintance. These bottles have been open for at least a year and perhaps much longer so that could have modified the original flavor and character a bit for whatever that's worth. There is a lot to like in all three and they all deliver a quality sipping experience. While the Trois Riveres and Rhum JM were broadly similar, the Clement was the outlier and struck me as unusual for an Agricole and none the worse for it. Sorry, now that I let these languish so long in that dark closet it is unlikely any of these bottles will survive this season.
Trois Rivieres 2006 single cask
The label tells me this has been aged in French Limousin and Ex-Cognac barrels and it was distilled August 4 2006 and bottled at 43% December 4 2013. The cellar master is acknowledged as Daniel Baudin. No mention of Pirates. I bought a bottle regardless. The nose is an intriguing delicate mélange of floral, spicy oak, vanilla and some damp earth. Very nice and I was happy to spend some quality time with it.
The palate has a graceful entry that slowly shows the spicy oak after giving you plenty of time with the sweet floral and light honey notes. That spice grows and leads to a finish where this Rum shows at it's most substantial. Spicy against subtle sweetness slowly leading to a satisfying drying. This is a marvelously balanced and elegant Rum that plays to the woodier, sweeter side of what I typically think of an Agricole. I get why the cellar master is credited on the label as this is a really special single barrel that really deserves to be savored and appreciated for it's subtle depth and nuanced flavors and Mr Baudin should be proud. I have been told that Agricole Rum often seeks to emulate the finest Brandy from France. This one does, and to my palate surpasses most.
Clement Cask Collection 56.6% - Barrel 45 - Single cask for NASA Liquor & Rosewater
A sweet honeyed nose with some characteristic agricole farminess and warm oak in the background that shows some sharp ethanol as well. Nice if not particularly complex. Perhaps the sweetest agricole I have tasted to date. A sip is all honey and caramel with a buttery character and just a very little grassy note. Drinks way below its proof, unexpected and delicious. The sip lingers and becomes a spicy sweet finish of moderate length with good weight and body.
The label tells me it was distilled 01/02/2015 and bottled 03/04/18 making this a three year old barrel proof rum that honestly could pass for a spirit aged much longer. This drinks way below its proof with a sweetness that approaches a molasses based rum but still has a subtle grassy back note while displaying the best characteristics of a Bourbon "honey barrel". Really good stuff.
Rhum J.M XO 45%
Accessible and light, the nose is surprisingly citrus forward with some floral fragrances all served on oak. The citrus is evident in the palate as well but adds notes of honey oak and subtle marshmallow. The more your palate grows accustomed, the more sweetness shows. Tannins show up late and usher in the finish gracefully. A juicy spice and tannin balance characterize the long finish with the citrus long forgotten.
First sips were disappointing, but I was making the mistake of approaching this bottle with expectations of what it would taste like rather than giving it time to reveal itself and show its strengths in its own way. At first it comes across as light, tart and easy drinking, but give it a few sips and it shows it's also complex and layered with a well-constructed balance that is flavorful and satisfying. Perhaps lacking the weight of a spirit that is good company by a mid-winter fireplace I found it to be a rum that is perfect company on a warm evening on the deck.