Rumaniacs Review 021 | 0421
Here’s a pretty decent, if somewhat anorexic, rhum from Haiti, courtesy of the House of Barbancourt. The name “Réserve Spéciale” is still in use, and refers these days to an eight year old, but so scarce is any kind of information on the sample I was provided (even getting a photo was problematic hence the lousy quality of the one you see here), that for me to say it was an eight year old back then is an educated guess, not a fact. Still, info or no info, a sample was sent, and there it is and here we are. It’s not something a rum junkie can ignore.
Colour – dark amber
Strength – 43%
Nose – Thin and yet still very aromatic. Lots going on here – light cherries, and dark prunes, fried bananas and french bread covered over with green grape skins and dark chocolate (I know how that sounds, believe me) – the way it all comes together is tailor made for leisurely sniffing.
Palate – For a rum this dark, it’s surprisingly delicate…y’know, like a sumo wrestler wearing heels. Heated with a sly citrus sharpness to leaven it all. More plums and ripe cherries carrying over from the nose, to which is added grapes, black olives, vanilla, cinnamon and some cardamon as it develops. With water not much changes, some vague grassier hints round things out. It’s actually quite a smooth product, once it settles down. Still lacks real body though.
Finish – Short and easy, warm and fragrant. Florals, lemon zest, grass, vague but unidentifiable fruitiness plus some vanilla. A bit too thin, really, but I concede that what it does present is nothing to sneeze at.
Thoughts – Nothing much to say. A decent agricole all the way through. The modern Barbancourt series are not very far away from this, which says a lot about the overall consistency of the line through the decades.
Sometimes even a short series of notes like those above illustrate larger points about the rum universe.
What is becoming clearer as I do these reviews, is that while independent bottlers take care to keep track of and list every one of their offerings — including from which country, from what year and at what strength — more commercial “country-based” makers (like DDL, Barbancourt, Mount Gay, Angostura, St. Lucia Distilleries, Flor de Cana, the Travellers, the Jamaicans etc etc) who keep a single line of rums stable for many years, never really bother. That’s why Carl Kanto could mourn the passing of older DDL rums marketed in the pre-El-Dorado days, of which no trace, no list, no photograph, no profile, and no sample remains.
I believe that in these cloud based internet days, every rum maker owes it to the generations to come to preserve a complete set of every rum they have ever made, are making, and will make — in writing and in photographs, and maybe with a few cases squirrelled away in a vault someplace. It may seem like a waste now, but in fifty years it would be a treasure beyond price. And as we all get older ourselves, haven’t we all noted that the years are passing more quickly? That fifty years will be gone in a heartbeat.