Made in France, rhum agricole is a tightly controlled product that is manufactured from fresh pressed, free-running sugar cane juice. Rhum agricole is similar to gin in the sense that it must feature the key ingredient of sugar cane juice (as opposed to juniper berries). The AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlle) governs how the spirit can be made, explicitly stating that sugar cane can only be harvested during the dry season, the fields cannot be burned, and the sugar cane must be pressed within three days of harvest. Rhum agricole literally reflects the terroir of the regions it hails from, as it features an intense grassy flavor that some consider an acquired taste. Producers of the spirit have shrunk since 1950, going from 150 to only 11 that have AOC designation. Even fewer export to the US, but the ones that do are pretty fantastic.
A complex rhum with tremendous flavor, Clément Rhum‘s Cuvée Homère is at the top of the Cellar Master’s Selection Series and features the highest rated vintage rums of the last fifteen years aged in French Limousin Barriques and re-charred Bourbon Barrels. Aromas of warm biscuits and delicious almond butter melt into black pepper that continues into a buttery mouth feel. The flavor is nuanced and textured, consisting mainly of wood notes and licorice, but also hinting at fruity and floral notes. The finish contains more wood notes, and then fades to a dry, sweet brine for several minutes.
Fifteen Year Old Rhum Vieux Agricole
Aged a minimum of 15 years, this exceptional rhum from Saint James carries with it the flavors from the charred barrels it’s perfected in. Deep woody notes of damp mushrooms and crackling dry wood are combined with the charred wood for a comforting aroma. Dry wood continues to dominate the palate while pleasantly coating the mouth and ending in a remarkable finish. A high-end tasting experience and beautifully bottled, Saint James has created a rhum that goes well in your cocktail of choice.
Distilled at the foot of a volcano, Rhum J.M‘s X.O. is aged in re-charred bourbon barrels for over ten years before being bottled and shipped out. Rhum of the X.O. variety simply means it must be aged at least six years. Superb and complex, X.O. smells of pickling spices and honeyed dried fruits, with hints of toffee and creme brulee wafting up. Once it hits your mouth it has a very solid flavor of sandalwood and peppercorns, with a tingling leathery finish. Enjoyed neat, on the rocks or with a cigar, X.O. is a complex, aged sipping rhum with cascading waves of flavor.
Damoiseau X.O. Rhum Vieux Agricole
Another X.O. rhum, Damoiseau‘s X.O. is also aged in ex-bourbon barrels. The floral – almost wine-like – notes come from the humid, tropical climate that X.O. is aged in, and the drinker could almost be fooled into thinking it’s a cognac. X.O. also has a heavy oceanic character that gives depth to the wood and sugarcane notes, allowing them to coexist perfectly. The finish features burnt orange peel, a hint of cinnamon, and some tobacco spices. X.O. has plenty of flavor to stand on its own, so it’s best enjoyed neat or in simple cocktails.
Agricole Blanc Rhum
One hundred proof and fiery, Neisson Rhum‘s Agricole Blanc Rhum is the rhum to reach for when you want to ignite your palate. Like most of the rhums on this list, it is made from sugar cane that is harvested from the rich soil of Martinique’s northwest coast, so the grassy flavors are prevalent. Fermented for three days and allowed to rest for three months, the result is an unadultered cane rhum with a fresh floral scent and an intense yet smooth finish. A honeyed and warm palate gives way to grassy flavors to balance the sweetness. Agricole Blanc Rhum is perfect for taking your mojito or piña colada to the next level.