Sunday, 6 November 2016

Review 95 - Saint James 15 year old

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
Nice. Simple. Elegant.

Seeing how much fun I’m having with the agricoles lately, I may as well keep going down that path.
So why not try another one. And of course from a distillery, which I haven’t reviewed before.

Having ”visited” La Favorite, J.Bally and Trois Rivieres recently, this time I’m going to visit Saint James. Another well-renowned hard hitter in the agricole circuit on Martinque.

The plantations has been around since 1765 and the rum was originally named Saint Jacques, until marketing happened and demanded a name chance to Saint James to woo the english speaking drunkards.

Saint James has a much varied product lineup, from white mixers to luxury sippers, and today I’m going to work on the Saint James 15 year old for a while.

The 15 year old is part of their permanent lineup, so we are dealing with a blended product made from pure sugar cane juice, and distilled on creole column still.

It has been tropically aged for a minimum of 15 years in small oak casks, before being bottled at 43% ABV.

Furthermore it bears the AOC mark, and there lives up to many strict french regulations, which means that we are dealing with a highly trustworthy product here.

I’m not going to explain the criteria behind the AOC. I can be googled if you are not already familiar with it.

At first glance, the dark wooden case hives off an aura of excellence, but when you remove the flimsy, plastic window, my enthusiasm cooled down a bit.

There is nothing on the box except for a ”Saint James” fire branded on the sides and on wooden top of the plastic window.

Inside we find a classic square based and rather tall Saint James bottle, which is used for most of their rums. I has several embossed parts, where the Saint James name is visible.

The label i rather large, and is divided into two parts. Det upper part is black and only contains brand name info. The lower part is purple, which is special for the 15 year old, and contains age, origin, abv and a few short tasting notes in french.

That’s it. Not much Mr. Fancypants. Thankfully.

In the bottle we find a clear, copper coloured liquid, which generates a nice, thick layer of residue on the glass. Af a few seconds a thick ring is visible, and a few seconds later, some nice, fat legs has joined the party. It seems we are in for a viscous treat.

Light as a feather, and it feels quite little narrow. Not sharp or pungent or anything unpleasant like that. Just narrow.

First off is some pretty obvious cane juice, and a little toasted oaks.

Orange peel is next along with a small dose of vanilla.

And that is pretty much it.

Indeed it was super narrow and doesn’t hold many secrets.

It does come off reasonably balanced and perhaps must noticeable of all, it is insanely elegant. Tippy-toeing around the nose with much grace.

Still very light, and incredibly gracious.

Again the cane juice notes and the oaks are first.

Then comes the orange peel and vanilla.

There is also some caramel in there, and an herbal or medicinal side, which I can’t identify.

Still not very deep or complex, but it is very pleasant and the elegance of it … oh my the elegance.

It’s like a ballet for your palate. Everything is lacks in flavour diversity, surprise and wow, it more than makes up for with its super elegant nature.

By definition the finish is rather long. But there is not much of anything, that stays on through out.

The initial flavours die out rather fast, and then there is just fruity cane and a few spices left.

And that tiny aftertaste stays with you for a long time.

Again: Very elegant to a fault.

Rating and final thoughts
A very simple, honest and good agricole.

There wasn’t many layers to traverse, there wasn’t a million different flavours to find and identify.
It has just a few. And they were neatly organised and balanced through out the entire adventure.
And I know I mentioned it a few times already, but oh my it’s elegant.

This is one of the most elegant rums I have ever tried. Perhaps because it’s more or less french...

Value is very good if you can find it for a good price. I was fortunate to find it in a local Danish super market for around €50. If you can find it at a price like that, you need to get it.

It seems that there is quite a lot of very decent agricoles available at very affordable prices. Throw in the fact, that most french rhums don’t have the habit of tampering with anything, and then you’re pretty much off to a good start.

I kind of regret taking so long to get properly started on the agricoles, because now that I have, I finally realised that I have many great rhums left to discover.

The Saint James 15 was a nice distraction. A simple, four or five tricks pony, but still incredibly enjoyable. And for that I need to award it a…

Rating: 78/100


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