You’re perusing the rum options at wherever you are: the liquor store, the french bistro, the steakhouse, the liquor cabinet of your Grandma who still drinks like she’s 5 men in their 20s. You want that sweet fire in your belly, but then you notice something strange. A rum, but with an ‘h’. Well, that’s no typo. You’ve just found a delightful rarity in the world of island distilleries, rhum agricole or “French style rum”.
Popular in many French restaurants, the added ‘h’ isn’t just an aesthetic flair to the drink, but an identifier of a new monster all together. Where regular rum is made from the distillation of plain old fermented molasses, rhum agricole is distilled from fresh pressed, free-running cane sugar juice. Also, the industry is tightly managed across the French territories, as it is run by an official organization called the AOC (Appelation d’Origine Controlle) which mandates when to harvest the cane sugar, the distillation process and maintenance of the growing environments.
What this gives the drink is a departure from the faint vanilla sweetness of its molasses infused brethren and a more grassy note, an added saccharine. Because so many of the French territories, such as Martinique and, well~ Martinique may be the main distributor. Here are the five selections we have decided might be the best to try of this dynamic beverage.
Clement V.S.O.P. Rhum Agricole Vieux
We have a champion of the volcanic isles right here with this award-winning aged mahogany spirit, inviting your heart in with its warm oakiness and velvet texture as it slips you to the islands. It makes you feel a tropical spring-to-summer transition with cocoa bean aromas, mixed fruit nuttiness and this silky punch of a coconut-banana creme brulee flavor. It says goodbye with charred sugar cane, exotic spices and slightest picante as it leaves you with the sensation equivalent of a day spent in a hammock.
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The Rhum JM collection is versatile, classic and, frankly, the stuff of legend. This gem, the “avantgarde liquor d’orange” as the site titles it, though, is a neck-twister. As in, you’ll be dying to twist the cap off the neck of this vintage drink so that you can experience what it’s like to try soft molten gold mixed with cane sugar juice, vanilla bean drops pulsating in each sip, with nutmeg and cinnamon peppering. Because, you know, boldness is the only thing liquor is about. But, then, to drive home its uniqueness, its shining brilliance, Schrubb is infused with a bitter orange zest to capture those aromatic winds and put them in a bottle. Open this bad boy and let those winds blow your sails to Having a Good Time.
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Rhum Agricole Neisson Vintage of the Third Millenium
With a name like this coming up on our list, you know you’re about to receive something spectacular. The name does not disappoint. Neisson distillery opened its doors in 1931 in Martinique, but this product opened its first cap in 1999 to celebrate the new millennium and what better way to celebrate its exclusivity than by producing only 2000 bottles a year. Using only ten barrels that hold less than 650 liters, this liquor is aged over 6 years and slowly cooled to a soft amber perfection. If you are lucky enough to hold this celebration of the millennium, it seduces you with its fragrance of cigar box and charred fruitiness and serenades your taste buds with suggestive, sweet fruity nodes and long -lasting aftertastes that leave that slight peppery singe in your mouth.
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Damoiseau Cane Rhum 110 Proof
Finally, a selection that hails from somewhere new; new horizons of the visual and flavor to explore: Damoiseau of the island Guadeloupe. Here, they bring to us a contender with a minimal purism that you can enjoy with any cocktail but still enough punch to kick you right out of reality. When we talk about grassy sweetness, a real saccharine and thick hardiness, this is the drink to know how that extra ‘h’ means “well Hello!” Served in a simple, but still elegant clear bottle for a clear liquor, Damoiseau does not need amber colors or flamboyance to give you a royal tropical experience.
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St. George California Agricole Rum
France gave us General Lafayette. France gave us the Statue of Liberty. Now, they give us St. George’s California Agricole Rum,an American brand playing off this beauty from the francophone world. This selection, like the former, is a purist, going for that clear, viscuous texture so that we can just focus on that sweet melody of that grassy taste, that pure sugar cane rush, that California tropic in a bottle come to whisk you away, those who missed the special on Carribbean cruises. California’s always here for you and a sign of the growing appreciation for this sultry drink. When you sip a little hum, it gets really clear why Rhum agricole is the next big thing.
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