Karukera Rhum Vieux Agricole

Karukera Rhum Vieux Agricole

42% Alc/Vol

83/100

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Another Rhum Review and we’re staying in the French Caribbean,

From what I can gather Karukera isn’t a distillery but a brand that is made at “Distillerie Espérance” home of Longueteau Rhum. Karukera is the original name given to Guadeloupe by the Arawak settlers, it translates roughly to “Island of beautiful waters”

The property and plantation initial belonged to the Marquis de Sainte-Marie who decided that the solution to his financial woes was to be found in gambling. He promptly lost the property and it was bought on a provisional basis by Henri Longueteau in 1895,who wisely realized the path to solvency was in adding a distillery to the existent sugar production.

Distillerie de l’Éspérance is the oldest functional distillery on Guadeloupe and remains in the Longueteau family to this day.

karukera fermenter Les boubou en vacances

It’s hard to get exact info on Karukera as a brand, it’s not explained if this a separate venture that is simply distilled by Espérence or if they decided to offer different styles of rhum under the Karukera brand. The portfolio is fairly restrained, there is the white at 50%av, Silver at 40%abv, a couple of flavored versions and then the rhum vieux and a few  rhum vieux with specific vintages. It is column distilled and aged in Cognac and ex-bourbon casks.

Karukera rhum the world

The version we are tasting today is aged for 3 years in what I believe is mostly 350 liter ex-cognac casks.

Nose: Thompson raisins, fresh cut cane, caramelized banana skins (who would do this?), wet demerara, there is a hint of sea-spray. The next wave brings oaky, cellared wood, pine tar/resin, vanilla, cocoa butter and a slight whiff of kerosene and pepper notes.

Palate: Here the oak is more present, green bananas, pineapples, that grassy vegetal agricole thing, it’s pretty oily in texture. Allspice, mace, slightly bitter, tropical fruit rinds, oranges and their pith and a slight feeling of lamp oil.

The finish is long and drying, you can really feel the oak and tropical notes, green and ripe tropical fruits, a tad salty and again that orange pith feeling.

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It’s not the smoothest sipper it retains a bit of bite which might throw some off but with ice it calms those edges down enough to enjoy the roundness of the barrel aging. It sings in drinks providing that aged rhum bass note to fruits punches or a less in your face ti-punch. It was brought back from the duty-free store and was a gift but from what I understood it’s not terribly expensive.

Franck

 

 

 

Rhum Bologne Blanc 50

Rhum Bologne Blanc

ABV 50% Alc/Vol

82/100

 

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).

distillerie-bologne-tourisme-guadeloupe

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.

bologne-still-claude-roussel-dupre

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.

 

20170128_203953One 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

Franck

*  distillery photos from Tourisme Guadeloupe