Thursday, 31 December 2015

Review 72 - Rhum Rhum Liberation 2012 Version Integrale

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
The second best single digit rum I've had so far.
... and as the new year starts to get very close, you will definitely need something with a lot more oomph to shake things up, when the fireworks starts to drape the skies!

For that, I found something very interesting on my shelf: The Rhum Rhum Liberation 2012 Version Integrale. Sounds almost like a racecar, doesn't it?

The brand Rhum Rhum was launched by Luca Gargano of Velier in collaboration with Gianni Capovilla – the best master distiller in the world (according to Mr. Gargano).

These two visionaries started the Rhum Rhum distillery located in Marie Galante, which is a small island being an administrative part of Guadeloupe. Or at least that is what I got from google'ing around for a while. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Here they set up their own distillery inside the Bielle distillery, which has been producing agricole rhums for quite some time. 

The vision behind the rum was to create rum in a brand new way.

The Rhum Rhum products are made from pure cane juice – no added water. Fermentation is done in a controlled environment over the course of 10 days, which is a very long time compared to traditional agricole fermentation.

After being double distilled in a Bain-Marie pot still, it was then aged for 5 years in oak barrels which had previously been used for ageing sauternes white wine.

Finally, it was bottled at a mouth watering strength of 59,8% at a total of 1420 bottles.

Being the purist he is, I expected that Mr. Gargano has done nothing to alter the distillates.

A simple hydrometer test shows an estimated sugar content of 3 g/L, which is practically nothing, so I will stick my neck out and claim that this rum is as unadulterated as it gets.

Besides this product, Rhum Rhum also sports two white rhums at two different strengths, the Liberation 2012 at regular strength, as well as the Liberation 2010 and the sparkling new Liberation 2015.

It is quite clear, that this rum is remotely related to the Veliers.

The box is the same size and has a very simple expression.

Coloured white, it shows a rather large drawing of a lobster (I think), flanked by some other smaller animals. I am no Steve Irwin, so I have little idea which animals we are talking about, but it looks like a centipede, a tapeworm and a couple of crustaceans. The drawings span two adjacent sides, and is copied on the two remaining sides.

The only text on the box, is the brand, the name, the origin and the ”PMG Maitre Capovilla” stamp, which are all repeated on all four sides.

Inside the box we find a typical Velier-bottle. An opaque black thing, which I have come to like very much. Beneath the metallic copper coloured shrink wrap at the top of the bottle, we find a synthetic cork with a faux wood stopper.

The labels are just awesome. It repeats the layout from the box with the invertebrates and the few information. Furthermore it is quite large and rectangular with a torn edge and a golden frame.

The colour scheme is quite unusual and a nice, fresh touch.

The gold/copper colour scheme correlates very well with the rum it self, being a golden, copper hue. It leaves a nice thin film on the inside of the glass, creating a clear ring, which transforms into many small droplets, which doesn’t seem move at all.

It jumps right out of the glass to welcome you with a super fresh and light profile.

The dominating scents are cane syrup and wet grass, with much fruitiness on the side from sour green grapes and ripe lemons.

There is also quite some oak in the mix as well as some liquorice root.

Beneath it all is a smoky and almost meaty note.

Lastly there is a mild pungency, which scratches your nostrils a bit. But I would be surprised otherwise with a 5 year old rum being just a (singed) nose hair short of 60% ABV.

Adding a little water, softens it out a little bit, but also dulls the overall impression.

I was surprised by the very, very soft and round approach. Where did those 59,8% hide?

Within a few seconds I found the ABV again. After the soft landing, it started to build intensity and heat. It never blew up anything or had me spitting fire. It was just huge in volume, while still being very, very round and soft.

The flavours in the foreground was cane syrup, with a nice spoonful of raspberry jam and a couple of pieces of sweet liquorice, 

After that came soft, but strong oak notes, with a drizzle of cinnamon and brown sugar.

Like on the nose there was also lots of fruitiness with pineapple, green grapes, ripe lemons and a little roasted almonds.

I have a super hard time finding any edges on this rum. It is so round and smooth, that I can’t really believe it.

With a little water it mellows out a bit, but also brings out a slightly sharp and tannic oak note, which seems to have been kept in check before.

Long, warm finish. Nothing new under the sun, but a long, smooth, buzzing fade.

When it was finally gone, there was nothing left but a pleasant aftertaste sweet cane syrup and a little spice.


Rating and final thoughts
I am absolutely blown away by this rum (as long as you don’t add water).

Rhum Rhum has achieved something in just 5 years with this rum, that many other rum-makers can’t achieve in 10 or 15 years.

The way this rum elegantly glides through your entire sensory organ, leaving nothing but smiles and velvety soft impressions, is just astounding. 

Alas, I would expect nothing less from the likes of Mr. Gargano and Mr. Capovilla, but still it surprises me how good this rum really is.

It will set you back somewhere in the area of €100 depending on where you find it. Sure, you can get a lot of other rums for that kind of money. But do you really want to?

If you like pure rums and perhaps even agricoles, you need to find yourself a bottle of this rum. Fast! I am definitely going to be rushing the store to get a spare one.

It doesn’t come off as a typical agricole. When I compare it to a couple of older agricoles in my collection, the traditional agricoles seem to be more floral and grassy. I am willing to bet that the Liberation 2012 Integrale will be a treat no matter if you swear by agricoles or not.
I am ferociously looking for flaws, but seem to come up empty handed.

The nose is quite complex, fragrant and withdrawn. The palate super smooth and a regular piece of flavour fireworks. The finish simply a volume knob being turned slowly towards zero until there is just a white noise buzz left.

As far as I’m concerned, this 5 years old couldn’t have been done better. More ageing would have meant more oaks and tannins, which would have destroyed the gentle balance (I guess that statement will be put to the test as soon as I get my hands on the Liberation 2015). Less torque, well I tried that while adding water, and that didn’t work too well for it.

I can’t find any off notes or unpleasantries. Everything just works. The only short coming is the failure to handle being diluted. But what kind of short coming is that? It’s the same as being disappointed that my imaginary Ferrari doesn’t perform well at 40 kph…

And since any such arguments are just stupid, I’m not going to let the lack of dilute-ability count against the 2012 Integrale.

There is not really anything left to say about this rum. It’s awesome. Go buy it if you love pure, cask strength rums and/or rhums. It leaves my table with a…

Rating: 91/100


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