Rhum Bologne Blanc
ABV 50% Alc/Vol
I decided for my first
rum rhum (this one is French) review for the site to begin with one of my favorite iterations of the spirit and feature an agricole producer from my home turf (Guadeloupe represent).
Agricole rhum distinguishes itself because it is distilled from sugar cane juice rather than molasses. Handling sugar cane is a labor/mechanically intensive process and like many crops the level of sugar begins to degrade rather quickly post harvest. This is also compounded by the fact that cane juice spontaneously ferments due to a heavy presence of wild yeast, processing must be done rather promptly following harvest. Most distill in various types of column stills, but I believe there are some who use pot stills as well.
Many distilleries sit on what used to be massive plantations or domaine from which they culled the cane for their rhum production. It is mainly a style preferred by former (or current) French Colonies (Martinique, Guadeloupe, La Réunion, French Guyana, Ile Maurice)
The use of distilled Vessou (the term for fermented sugar cane juice) leads to a very distinctive aromatic profile (usually grassy/herbal/vegetal) and funkyness, not the same funk that is to be found in Jamaican rums (think of New Orleans funk vs. P-Funk). There’s a distinct at least to me Tropicalness (Tropicalia, Tropicality, Tropi…oh nevermind this is terrible) to the style, they perform superbly in drinks with fruits juices or lots of acidity but those unusual flavor punctuation’s can freak out the uninitiated. They don’t have that bottom end heaviness of Jamaica/Guyana but are light years away from the stripped down styles of Spanish speaking Islands and countries.
Many agricole producers go in for AOC or controlled origin schemes which allow for regulations in a spirit category that is often devoid of any rigid governing bodies, so thankfully you are unlikely to get a shit ton of hidden sugar and useless solera style age statements. I like the flexibility of the rum category I don’t think it needs a hyper regulated SWA-style body to govern but sadly some folks don’t behave unless they are forced to.
Bologne is the name of the Dutch family who first owned the plantation on which the distillery is situated, it eventually became a very sizable operation. Interesting history tid-bit, in 1830 The plantation came into the hands of Jean-Antoine Ame-Noel, a black man born free who by acquiring the domaine became the only person of color to own a plantation of such a large size in Guadeloupe.
Nose: Sucrose,vegetal, angelica or geranium, Thompson raisins, fresh cut rhubarb, a slight note of citrus pith, with water added, you get notes or fresh allspice and mace.
Palate: Green bananas unfurling into grassy sweetness, think sugar infused with celery, geranium or banana leaves, a small amount of petrol and olive brine. Surprisingly little alcohol burn for 50%, the finish has a dark note almost a slight burnt touch, it adds a a welcome bitterness.
One of the advantages in rum is that when the distillate is of quality it makes for surprisingly good sipping when neat, same for cocktails, not something you could do so easily with White-dog/moonshine/new make in whisky
* distillery photos from Tourisme Guadeloupe