Sunday, 16 November 2014

Review 7 - Plantation Guatemala XO Single Cask Pineau des Charentes Cask Finish

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
Lo and behold the rum with the longest name … in the world.

This is none other than the Plantation Guatemala XO Single Cask Pineau des Charentes Cask Finish – from now on the ”GXO”.

The rum is produced by french spirits power house Cognac Ferrand. A company of great heritage and history with a foot in the door of almost every major type of spirits.

Operating as an independant bottler they do not do any distilling. Instead they travel the world to source spirits to bottle under their own name. This bottle being a guatamalan rum I suspect that they visited the Zacapa plant since according to Zacapa is the only operating distillery in Guatemala.

Having spent an XO amount of years in limousine oak casks the rum is then finished in old Pineau des Charentes casks. There wasn’t much information available online and the Plantation website sadly makes no mention of their limited products.

The GXO is one of Plantations many single cask offerings and just to clear things up – since it actually fooled me – ”Single Cask” does not necessarily mean that there is made only one cask of this rum.

It only means that the rum inside my particular bottle comes from a specific cask in the lot. Hence no blending of casks were made, hence it comes from a single cask.

So this translates to that if you should happen to buy two bottles of this rum with different cask number references you might pick up differences in charateristics of the rum.

This particular Single Cask is actually part of 13 casks of the same product. My bottle is number 436 of 450 from cask number 4 of 13.

My local vendor actually sold this as a very limited product (at a price not very similar to prices on truly limited products). However if you refrain from putting too much into the definition of ”Single Cask”, there is actually close to 6.000 bottles out there assuming all casks yielded around 450 bottles.

Further more Plantation has allowed retailers to select a specific cask to call their own and therefore making it possible for the retailers to have their name put on the label and market the rum as something that they have had specially tailored to suit their high standards of spirits.

Smoke, mirrors, marketing shenanigans and complete bull if you ask me.

I am not bashing Plantation or Cognac Ferrand here as they have more than proved themselves over the years - but the strategy on these limited single casks borders foul play.

However the rum might still be a great product. Let us find out.

Presented in a tall bar room bottle with a bondage fetish it stands out from the other bottles on the shelf. This is a common denomintor for most if not all Plantation rums and actually quite fresh. I like it. The bottle has the plantation name and logo embossed on the front.

The label is black due to the Single Cask nature and shows off a lot of details on the rum. Make, model, serial number, origin and the standard ABV 40% is there as well as my local retailers special addition to the charades. It is a pretty label though with an old style feel to it and it suits the bottle well. The back label takes the sales pitch to an even higher level.

The rum is self has a dark amber colour and a little twirl reveals very slow and lazy droplets moving towards the surface. From the looks of it I anticipate either a very full bodied rum and/or a very sweet and syrupy stickyness.

Now for the important but strangely less blog space consuming parts of the review.

Banana split with an alcoholic twist. You know vanilla ice cream, bananas, chocolate sauce and fruity liqueur. There is not much oak and barely any sharp corners anywhere. Also a little glue.

Super dry, not as sticky as expected, moderate sweet fruitiness. Banana liqueur and caramel. There is a certain white wine feel which I suspect is the Pineau casks chiming in. There is an oaky, spicey shadow above it all that never seems to intrude or in any way seems to steal focus.

The finish is quite short with a little oak and spice, and the only thing that keeps lingering is banana peel and dry white wine.

Rating and final thoughts
So even though I have spent a lot of time ranting about the whole marketing set up for this particular rum, I will try not to let it reflect on the scoring. After all the only truly important thing it is the quality of the contents of the bottle. If the bottle and labels ticked me off too much I could always just pour it into a different container.

That said I am not particularly fond of this rom. It doesn’t do much good or harm and apart from the whiney dryness and lack of typical Guatemalan super sweetness, there is not many surprises here.

It is by no means a bad sipper and as a rum as a whole it is quite decent. Although at €50-55 you should be able to expect more. And this is where I believe the faux exclusivity comes into play.

An anonymous and semi bland product can not be talked up to be something better – even though Cognac Ferrand really, really tries to. All the talk and praise kind of set my expectations high and having emptied my glass I am just a little disappointed.

I am want to be positive about this rum but I can't help but feel that this rum didn't deliver. Furthermore that combination of banana liqueur and white wine might only appeal to a smaller fan base out there. And sadly I am not part of it. Therefore…

Rating: 58/100


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