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Cigar Spirits: Rhum Barbancourt Estate Reserve

11 Sep 2019

The best aspect of rum might be the variety of styles. Broadly speaking, the three major styles are English, French, and Spanish (associated with the countries that make up the former colonies each country).

Haitian distillery Rhum Barbancourt is proof of this colonial influence. Haiti may be on the same island as the Dominican Republic, but the techniques they use to make rhum (note the “h” as used in French) are closer to the distilleries of Martinique and the Guadeloupe Islands.

As opposed to the English and Spanish styles, which rely on molasses, Rhum Agricole is made by distilling fresh-squeezed sugar cane juice. At Barbancourt, it is distilled in a pot still to 90% ABV (considerably higher than most agricole) before being brought down in proof prior to aging in multiple sizes of barrels.

Barbancourt produces a range of rums with the 15-year-old Estate Reserve being the oldest. Unlike some producers which use suspicious age statements, every drop of spirit in the bottle (which sells for around $50) is reportedly aged at least 15 years.

The 43% ABV rhum pours a deep walnut brown color, which unfortunately is obscured by the black frosted bottle. The nose features cinnamon bread, fresh cut lumber, and butterscotch.

On the palate, Barbancourt reveals a delicate combination of oak tannin, brown sugar, butterscotch, tea, and cherries. The finish is long with wood, leather, orange peel, and the slightest hint of pepper spice.

Between the rhum’s age or Barbancourt’s distillation technique, it lacks the some of the characteristics traditionally associated with agricole, like grassy or floral notes. Still, it’s highly enjoyable, even though though it is far from quintessential French agricole style. In fact, in many ways it is more similar to a Bajan rum like Doorly’s than a fellow Argicole, like Rhum JM.

It’s a rhum to be enjoyed neat, with or without a cigar. I’d lean away from full-bodied cigars that might overpower the delicate notes of this complex spirit. Recommended pairings include: Cabaiguan, Cohiba Siglo, Davidoff Colorado Claro, and Illusione Epernay.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

One Response to “Cigar Spirits: Rhum Barbancourt Estate Reserve”

  1. Tran Hoa Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 10:15 pm #

    I think siglo 1 is the most suitable choice

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