Clément 10 Year Old Rhum Agricole Review
Clément 10 Year Old Rhum Agricole is produced on the island of Martinique in the French West Indies and sold by Rhum Clément. All Clément Rhums begin their life as fresh squeezed sugar cane juice prior to being fermented and distilled at Rhumerie Du Simon. The distillate is then transported to Habitation Clemént where it is aged and bottled. At one time Habitation Clément was a working estate distillery and is also recognized as the birth place of Rhum Agricole thanks to Homère Clément. For further reading on all things Clément and Rhumerie Du Simon check out The Rum Collective.
Rhum Agricole is a style of Rum that is made from a wort of fresh squeezed sugar cane juice and can be found throughout the Caribbean. The use of the sugar cane juice leads to grassier and more vegetal flavors/aromas than are found in Rums made from molasses. In addition to being made in the style of Rhum Agricole, Clément Rhums carry the "AOC Martinique Rhum Agricole" designation. In order to be labeled as such certain requirements must be met including defined geographic areas, controlled cultivation patterns, defined production techniques, allowed distillation columns/practices, and sub designations. There is an official Rhum Agricole website that goes into great mind melting detail regarding all the requirements and regulations.
Cost: $23 per pour at a bar that will remain unnamed on the island of Saint Martin (French side). Full bottle price is around $70 - $80 and can be purchased throughout the Caribbean and various websites.
Age: 10 Years
Distillery: Rhumerie du Simon, Martinique
Mashbill: 100% fresh squeezed sugar cane juice
Pour: 2 oz neat in a brandy snifter
Nose: Candied oranges, candied almonds, sugar cookies, muddled tangerine, vanilla and brown sugar. Bright with aromas of fresh cut citrus. Some ethanol on the nose. Finishes with sweet tobacco like a freshly opened pac of Marlboro reds.
Palate: Creamy - snickerdoodle and bananas. Getting some grassy vegetal notes that play well with the sweeter flavors. Less sweet than the nose.
Finish: Quick and dry with a lingering heat and some white pepper. Nice contrast to the nose.
Before wrapping up this review I want to discuss the bottle/label/design as I feel it needs some clarification. According to the Clément website the 10 Year Rhum is part of the "Superior Aged Rhums" line and more specifically, the "Grand Reserve" portfolio. There are a few different labels out there for this Rhum so I decided tor include both at the end of the slideshow below. For sake of continuity I will be referencing the bottle/label that my pour was decanted from which is very simple and does a great job and showing off the color of the Rhum. However, for reference sake I went ahead and included the label/bottle/design that can be found on the Clément website just to illustrate the confusion that can be caused by information overload. Information is good, but sometimes a label can be too busy (looking at you Smooth Ambler Old Scout Ryes and Bourbons).
- Clément (Rhum Clément) is responsible for aging and packaging the Rhum Agricole should be considered similar to American Whiskey NDPs. They do not distill the Rhum however are responsible for everything after the fermentation and distillation in regards to the product
- Martinique is the Island in the French West Indies where the rum is fermented, distilled, aged, and bottled.
- Rhum Vieux Agricole refers to the AOC Rhum Martinique designation of "vieux" (extra aged rum). This is one of three designations including "blanc" (white rum) and "élevé sous bois" (cask aged rum). The big difference between these designations is time. Other considerations include barrel sizes and alcohol concentration (grams per litre). Again this can all be found in great detail on the AOC website referenced earlier in this review.
- "Blanc" (white rum): Colorless rum laid still for at least 3 months and if aged in barrels no longer than 3 months.
- "Élevé sous bois" (cask aged rum): Must be aged in oak barrels in the production area uninterrupted for at least 12 months.
- "Vieux" (extra aged rum): Must be aged in oak barrels in the production area uninterrupted for at least 3 years.
- Appellation Martinique Contrôlée refers to the AOC Martinique (protected designation of origin). Although I don't see the official label on the bottle, the AOC website recognizes both Rhumerie Du Simon (distillery still in production) and Clément (broker, aging facility).
- Vieilli En Fûts De Chêne literally translates to "aged in oak barrels". We already know that bit of information based on the "Vieux" AOC designation. I guess someone in the marketing department needed something to do that day.
The Clément 10 year was my first Rhum Agricole and found it to be a fantastic introduction to the style. As a whole this rum as a really enjoyable dynamic from start to finish. Sweets and citrus really help to create a bright aroma that finishes with a mild, slightly sweet tobacco note. The sweet tobacco took me a while to pin down but was really fantastic and unexpected. The nose on this was amazing and different than any molasses based rum I have encountered. Grassy and vegetal flavors are present on the palate as I hoped they would be. The drier, and slightly spicy finish worked well as it contrasted the nose however could have been longer a bit more complex. The lack of heavy sweetness on the body and finish were really refreshing. Overall, this was a fantastic pour and I highly recommend to anyone that enjoys rum.
****EDIT 1/6/15 - Both Clément, HSE, and Rhumerie Du Simon are owned by the Hayot Group. Habitation Clément was purchased in 1986. Simon was purchased sometime prior to the acquisition of HSE in 1994. Why do I keep talking about HSE? Because Rhumerie Du Simon distills exclusively for 2 brands - HSE and Clement. This all helps explain the relationship between Simon distilling the rhum and Clément aging/bottling the rhum. Initially I thought of Clément as something similar to an NDP in the Bourbon world but they are really a brand owned by a larger beverage conglomerate. Thanks to /u/quazi4moto for pointing out this business relationship.
- Mark @ Entry Proof