By Pete, TheFloatingRumShack.com
I strongly suspect that Alexandre Gabriel, the President of Cognac Ferrand and creative genius behind the portfolio of Plantation rums is something of a magician. I imagine him weaving spells involving great rum from the Caribbean islands and a variety of interesting casks that have enjoyed a previous existence holding a range of wines and spirits. Drawing on the secret craft and cunning of the cellar master, they age and blend the resulting elixirs, so that they burst forth into the wonderful rums we know and love!
There’s always something going on as well – the creative output never seems to stop! It wasn’t long ago we were enjoying the arrival of a stable mate to Barbados 5 Year Old in the guise of the Plantation Guatemala. Now, thanks to the influence of self confessed rum geek, Paul McFadyen (Spirit Brands Manager at Bibendum), the UK has two rather special limited edition rums to enjoy.
Barbados 5 Year Old Pineau des Charentes Finish Single Cask Rum
This exciting new take on a favourite of TheFloatingRumShack.com sees the Plantation Grande Reserve 5 Year Old upgraded with a second finish. For those new to the Grande Reserve, we can give you a brief recap: it’s a bourbon cask aged Bajan rum that has been tropically aged between 5 and 8 years in the Caribbean. It is then given a further 6 months of ageing in old French oak casks at Cognac Ferrand’s Chateau de Bonbonnet, before final blending and bottling. This eminently sip-able, premium pouring rum is sweet on the approach, unmistakably Bajan with its coconut flavour notes and very, very quaffable.
This limited edition, single cask bottling builds on the fantastic Grande Reserve rum and enhances it with a further six months of ageing in an ex Pineau Des Charentes cask.
The Pineau des Charentes cask finish lends a fresher, brighter taste – it’s all grape and white raisin! It’s noticeably (and deliberately) less-sweet than the Grande Reserve in order to not lose the subtle notes of the Pineau des Charentes. You’re left with no doubt as to the rum base as it comes through immediately, but very soon after that you realise this is a far more complex flavoured rum than you might have first thought.
So then – details! This is a single cask rum (available only to the UK market), which means that the saleable volume is limited due to the physical size of the cask – a nice touch is the “Cask No: 1/1” detail on the label. In this case the run is limited to 350 bottles – another nice touch is the bottle numbering – “Bottle No: 142/350” in our case. The bottle is wrapped in the distinctive protective weave that marks the Plantation range and is available in 70cl volume bottles at 40%ABV.
For the rum geeks who do love their facts, Pineau des Charentes casks are generally not readily available and so Alexandre was forced to pay for a full cask, which he emptied and immediately filled with the double aged rum in order to reduce to an absolute minimum, the negative effects of oxidisation that he believes can seriously impact on the flavour. Serious attention to detail there folks!
So, with our taste buds still all a quiver from one fantastic rum, it was time to try another…
Trinidad 1999 Banyuls Finish Single Cask Rum
So the story goes that Alexandre Gabriel has a stock of Trinidadian rums dating from 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000 and perhaps even a 2002. As is Alexandre’s way, samples of each were finished in Banyuls cask as he was looking for a sweet wine finish and from this selection Paul McFadyen chose the 1999 for a special UK limited edition bottling.
Banyuls is a small town on the French side of the France/Spain border in the foothills of the Pyrenees. They produce a dessert wine there in the same manner as the fortified wine, Port.
The Trinidad 1999 is everything that’s good about Trinidadian rum: chocolate, peppery and chilli type spice. Combined with the sweet port like finish obtained from the Banyuls cask – this rum is rather special, it’s like dark chocolate in your glass.
The Trinidad rum receives a year to 18 months of cognac cask ageing (all vintages receive a longer time in French oak than the blends do) before receiving approximately six months finishing in the Banyuls cask.
Packaged in the same sexy, black label format as the Pineau des Charentes, the nice details of “Cask No: 1/1” and “Specially selected for the UK by Alexandre Gabriel”. The Trinidad 1999 is available in a 70cl bottle at 42%ABV. The single Banyuls cask is large enough to realise 450 bottles, of which ours is “Bottle No: 142/450”.