Barbancourt Reserve Speciale 8 Year Old Rhum
Review: Barbancourt Reserve Speciale 8 Year Old Haitian Rhum (83/100)
a review by Chp Dykstra (AkA Arctic Wolf)
Posted March 08, 2017
Rhum Barbancourt is distilled and produced by Societe du Rhum Barbancourt, in Port Au Prince on the Isle of Haiti. The Haitian company (founded by Dupré Barbancourt ) began producing rhum on March 18, 1862, distilling their spirit directly from sugar cane juice rather than using molasses. After Dupré’s passing the company was manged by his nephew Paul Gardère. The Gardère family directed the business for four generations until the recent passing of Thierry Gardère (Wednesday, February 27 2017). At the time of this writing it is unclear who will be taking the reins of the company.
The word “rhum” is the French spelling for our English word “rum”. However, the differences between Rhum and Rum are often much deeper than just a twist in spelling. This is because the traditions of making rhum in the French West Indies differs from the traditions of rum production in the rest of the Caribbean. The major difference in the production of Agricole Rum is that it is distilled from fermented sugar cane juice rather than fermented molasses. As well Rhum Agricole is usually single distilled to 70 per cent abv., and then brought to bottling proof after it is aged. At Rhum Barbancourt, things are done a little differently, as a second distillation brings their rhum to 90 % abv. after which it is reduced to about 50 % abv. before being aged in oak (in both large oak ‘vats’ and smaller barrels).
Barbancourt Reserve Speciale Haitian Rhum or Barbancourt 5 Star as it is often referred to is an 8 Year Old spirit bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.
In the Bottle 4/5
The Barbancourt 5 Star Rhum arrives in the medium tall with a professional label and pressed on metal cap. This style of bottle is easy to grip, easy to pour, and fits on any bartender’s shelf. However, as many of my regular readers know, I have railed against those pressed on metal caps for about many years now. They are flimsy, they strip easily and once they are opened by breaking the metal perforations they do not reseal the bottle well. An eight year old rhum perhaps deserves a better closure.
In the Glass 8.5/10
I was surprised as I poured the rhum into my glencairn glass. The spirit is the colour of pale straw, slightly brown and slightly yellow. It looks more like a young whisky, than an aged rum. The nose, however, is very much like rum, with mild brown sugar aromas mixed with butterscotch. When I tilted my glass and gave it a slow twirl, I noticed the rhum imparted only a very light sheen on the inside of the glass the crest of which releases skinny fast-moving legs.
As I let the glass sit, I notice smells of banana, orange peel, almond, vanilla and mild oak spices. The light butterscotch and brown sugar notes move into those light oak spices bringing yummy toffee forward and a few scattered baking spices. The almond notes I noticed initially are moving towards marzipan, and the orange peel is moving towards marmalade.
The breezes in the air above the glass are light and inviting and it is time to take a sip.
In the Mouth 50/60
The rum has a very light buttery mouth feel and this impression perhaps is tricking me into believing I can taste butter alongside the light brown sugar and butterscotch flavours within the rhum. The spirit carries some fine wood spices alongside light impressions of cinnamon and oak sap. A touch of orange peel is present as is a light banana-like flavor. A light winding almond flavour and soft vanilla complete the flavour profile.
I find the flavour pleasant, but it is perhaps not assertive enough to engage me as a sipping rhum. Fortunately the 8-year-old spirit mixes well with cola in Cuba Libre style cocktails (I love Cuba Libre’ mixed drinks) and with some experimentation I also found it quite acceptable for short cocktails (see recipe below).
In My Throat 12.5/15
The light bodied rhum has a short dry finish with perhaps a light musty quality which I overlooked in the other areas of the review. The fine oak spices also give the spirit a mild astringency through the exit. The dryness and the oak spice in the finish bode well for cocktails.
The Afterburn 8.5/10
Barbancourt Reserve Speciale 8 Year Old Haitian Rhum is very pleasant indulgence. Sipping the rhum neat is enjoyable, but when mixed, it becomes outstanding, especially in Cuba Libre’ and short cocktails.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
1 3/4 oz Barbancourt Reserve Speciale
1/2 oz Orange Liqueur (Bols Triple Sec)
1/2 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
2 dashes of Bitters (Fees Cocktail Bitters)
1/4 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
Orange Peel Twist
Add the ingredients into a metal shaker with plenty of ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with a twist of Grapefruit
Please Enjoy Responsibly!
And if you are interested in more recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for my mixed drink recipes!
My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score as follows:
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)