Rhum JM Single Batch Reserve 2014 French Oak Rhum
This blend of 3-4 barrels (a total of 658 bottles) was aged entirely in new French oak for just over 6 years in the humid tropical climate of Martinique, before being blended and bottled at 48% abv. The barrels selected were chosen to highlight the darker and deeper profile that agricole rum can show with extended aging in French oak, which generally shows a more savory and chocolatey character than the intense vanilla of American oak. On the nose, aromas of grassy sugarcane verge on an almost agave-like vegetal quality, quickly subsumed by creme de cassis, candied orange peel, fruit compote, and chardonnay, with lashings of spicy cinnamon and dried mango. On the palate there is a wonderful dance of rich fruit and dark spice, with cocoa, snickerdoodle, cigarette smoke, and sandalwood/hazelnut alongside more of the cassis from the nose, dried dates, young cognac, grape soda, and honeyed apricots. The finish turns somewhat dry and gives an impression of an elegant speyside Scotch, lingering on for minutes after the sip.
Because of the intense tropical humidity and protection from the marine layer over the estate, the sugarcane at Habitation Bellevue, the home of Rhum J.M., grows in a full 12 month cycle and is harvested each Spring. Because they harvest only their own sugarcane, the sugarcane is pressed in less than 1 hour from when it was cut, delivering the freshest possible juice to be made into rhum. The sugarcane juice naturally ferments slowly into a sugarcane wine (Vin de Canne) of around 5% abv over the course of 36-48 hours. The sugarcane wine is then distilled into Rhum Agricole in a Créole Copper Column at or near 70% alcohol, retaining the natural flavor and aroma of the Habitation's cane and terroir. The distillate is then rested in stainless steel tanks for at least three months, before being reduced to bottling strength and bottled for the traditional Blanc rhum, or reduced to 60% abv and barreled for any rhum destined to become one of J.M.'s beloved aged expressions, from the young and grassy Eleve Sous Bois, all the way through the rich and elegant vintage bottlings.