What makes French West Indies–style rum (called rhum agricole) so interesting is that it’s fermented and distilled from only the juice of fresh-pressed sugarcane rather than molasses, a byproduct of sugar production. This lends the spirits a little funk and a whole lot of flavor. Rhum Clément’s new release, Canne Bleue, is one of the best I’ve tasted and a fascinating study in a single variety of cane. It’s grassy, with quince, green mango, pine and mint aromas while a blackberry fruitiness gives a sensation of sweetness even as it ends bone dry. Also worthy of attention is the new Select Barrel, a blend of several single-cane rums aged three years in used French oak barrels. The wood tempers a bit of the agricole funk, bestowing the rum with sweet spice, vanilla and an almost pine nut–like note. It’s a versatile pour, good mixed into a drink or on its own, and a terrific value at the price.
Reviewed in W&S Winter 2014.