A few weeks ago, your faithful narrator was contacted by representatives of Depaz about his interest in some samples, with the possibility of a review of these alleged samples obviously the goal of such provisions. I received those samples, I sampled the…um…samples, and I even used them in my most recent Mixology Monday entry.
In that entry I promised my readers a review of the rhum within a week – and then promptly failed to deliver that review in a timely fashion. I was going to say that my dog ate my homework, but I don’t have a dog, and I haven’t met a dog yet that could eat an entire computer or drink an entire bottle of rum faster than I can (NOTE: The Dood will not enter in to any rum drinking contest with your dog).
Depaz Blue Cane Rhum is a rhum agricole from Martinique. That funny spelling and title of the rhum is a French designation for rhum (“rum” to the Anglically-inclined) which is created by distilling pressed sugar cane juice, rather than molasses (rhums of this type are referred to as “rhum industriel” – although you’ll probably see it labeled as “rhum traditionnel”). Rhum agricole is made by harvesting fresh sugar cane, shipping it to the distillery where it is crushed in a mill, and the juices collected and then distilled. It’s a costlier process than making more traditional rums – err – rhums with molasses and other sugar cane byproducts.
Depaz is one of several Martinique distillers holding the French AOC marque (Appelation d’Origine Controlee) – and it maintains strict adherence to the requisite development and production standards that the French government sets to hold such a marque. Located at the foot of Mount Pelée in Martinique, the Depaz Estate produces its rhum using a variety of sugar cane known as blue cane – one of the more (if not the most) costly varieties of cane to produce. Depaz spares no expense in its hunt for your hard-earned rum dollars – err – rhum euros…francs?
In the US, Depaz offers the Blue Cane Rhum, while out of the States you can get a white rum (rhum blanc) as well as the amber Blue Cane. A word of warning if you buy the Blue Cane Agricole in Martinique (or just about anywhere not in the US): the product in the States is 90 proof, while elsewhere in the world you’re probably buying 100 proof. It’s not a significant difference, but when I have so much source material, I figure I may as well be thorough. Now, with that out of the way, let’s get down to brass tacks…
The rhum is a very pretty light amber color…almost straw-colored. Swirl the spirit in the glass and you’ll see the legs forming, very light and delicate. A very thin ribbon of spirit clings tightly to the sides of the glass.
Right out of the gate, the first thing that strikes me when nosing this rhum is that it has a very – for lack of a better term and any real irony – agricultural aroma to it. There’s a grassy scent right up front that permeates the entire experience. It’s not overpowering…and it’s even quite pleasant. I know that I’ve occasionally stated that I don’t like grassy notes in my rums, but this is rhum…and it is exactly what you want to smell.
The grassy notes provide a nice undercurrent to the other scents…a hint of berries at the front, as well as banana both play very nicely with the vegetal notes. There’s even an oh-so-subtle hint of honey at the end of the experience.
Enough dilly-dallying, let’s get to the good part: THE TASTE!
I’ll be honest when I say that the very first time that the rhum crossed my lips, I was a bit taken-aback by it’s boldness. The very first sip had a bit more burn that I would normally like and I could feel the burn traveling down my throat and in to my chest. My impression at first sip was that this rhum was a tad rough, but there was a richness there, and as is my duty as your faithful guide on this journey, I had to go back for more.
Amazingly, the second sip was almost a completely different experience. The entry was smooth and warm. The same went for all subsequent sippings. Perhaps it had just been too long between reviews…perhaps my tongue and throat had forgotten how to handle their liquor…I really can’t explain why the first sip was so much rougher than those that followed, but it must have happened because I wrote it down – and I wouldn’t lie to the Muppet notepad.
The rhum is light on the tongue…dry but luscious at the same time. One can taste the banana from the nose with a mild sweetness. There’s still a vegetal, grassy overtone to the rhum, but not in such a sense that it’s a bad thing. I’ve mentioned here that with cachaÇa I find the flavors to be grassy and yet industrial. These flavors are grassy but – man do I hate using this word over and over again – agricultural. There’s a subtlety at play here that most cachaÇas I’ve tried seem to lack. The flavor is evocative of a large sugar plantation near the sea, with a warm breeze blowing in from the coast as you stand in your linen knickers and open collared shirt underneath a straw hat.
Where was I? Oh yeah…sitting in a 900 square-foot apartment in Orange County wishing I was in Martinique. That’s right.
In addition to the banana and grassy notes, there is a hint of vanilla that lingers on the tongue as the rhum’s rather spicy finish takes the warmth of the spirit into your chest. It seemed that the more I dug in to this rhum, the more I found to like about it. Glass number two saw me adding one or two drops of water to the rhum to see what other flavors I could tease out of it. In the second glass I discovered tobacco and just the slightest hints of citrus.
The Long & The Short Of It
Wow…looking back on what I’ve written…there isn’t much short about any of this. I don’t have many rhum agricoles on my shelf. In fact, I have 2 – and that’s including my (now half-empty) bottle of Depaz. I guess you could say I’ve been a “Dood traditionnel” in that I’ve tended to stick to my molasses-based rums without “h’s”. After spending an evening (OK, two really) with Depaz though, I realize that I’ve been missing out. Rhum agricoles are immensely different from their traditional cousins, and Depaz is a terrific candidate to introduce you to the wider world of rums, rones, and rhums with this exquisite offering. I can’t find anything unbecoming to say about it…it’s great in a mojito, it’s wonderful in a ti’punch (made with Depaz Pure Cane Syrup of course!), and it’s spectacular on its own.
It almost makes me sad that I’m finishing this review and my bottle (after being used for two articles) is half empty. Maybe if I scrap this review I can convince the good people at Depaz to send me another bottle…you know…for research and verification purposes…yeah…yeah that’s it. No, actually that seems a tad unlikely. Dang.
I’m giving this rhum a 4/5, but if you were to take my scale and pull it out to being out of 100, this is easily an 91 or 92 out of 100. So maybe 4.5 / 5 is more accurate, but I don’t have my new rating system finished yet. Let me put it this way: this rhum has earned a permanent spot on my shelf – if the bottle empties, it will be replaced, post-haste.
Dood’s Rating: 4 Barrels of Rhum Out Of 5
Dood’s Other Rum Reviews