Reimonenq Vieux 9 Year Old Rhum (1999)
Review: Reimonenq Vieux 9 Year Old Rhum (1999) 94/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on June 25, 2013
(re-visited and re-scored, November 2015)
Distillerie Reimonenq (also referred to as Musee Du Rhum) was founded in 1916 by the Reimonenq family. The distillery, like most others on Guadeloupe, produces Rhum Agricole from distilled sugar cane juice. The fresh-cut cane is crushed by electric mills and the resulting ‘honey’ undergoes a 24 to 48 hour fermentation in open air vessels. The fermented ‘wine’ is distilled in a stainless steel column in the traditional french manner.
Incidentally, the word “rhum” is the French spelling for our English word “rum”. However, the differences between Rhum and Rum are much deeper than just a twist in spelling. This is because the french traditions of making rhum in the French West Indies differs from the Spanish and English traditions of rum production in the rest of the Caribbean. A major difference in the production of agricole rhum 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 alcohol by volume (ABV), and then brought to bottling proof (50 % ABV) after it is aged.
I received two samples of Rhum Reimonenq (a 5 Year old and a 9 Year Old) from Fabio Rossi (of Rum Nation). Mr Rossi personally choose the barrels for the “assemblage” at the distillery, and the bottling is done by the Reimonenq Distillery exclusively for his company. Unfortunately for the rest of us, this particular bottling is not available in North America; however my examinations hopefully will provide some insight into the taste profile of the Guadeloupe Rhum produced at the Reimonenq Distillery.
This is my review for the Reimonenq Vieux 9 Year Old Rhum.
Note: This review was re-scored as part of my tasting exercises for the Top 25 Rums 0f 2014 review series.
In the Bottle 4/5
The sample bottle which was sent to me for my Top 25 Rums of 2014 review series is shown to the left. The label shows the country of production, the date of distillation, and the date of bottling. As well each label featured the printed signature of Master Distiller, Leopold Reimonenq. The coup de grâce so to speak is the corked topper which seals the bottle and gives us that nice satisfying ‘pop’ when we open it.
(Note the Reimonenq Vieux 9 Year Old Rhum is bottled at 40 % ABV)
In the Glass 9.5/10
When I poured a bit of my sample into a glencairn glass I noticed it was a little darker than the previously reviewed Reimonenq Vieux 5 Year Old Rhum with a medium dark mahogany colour which shows flashes of copper brilliance. When I tilted and twirled my glass, a rather thickish oily sheen was left on the inside which deposited a couple of thick legs which ran back down into the rhum. The initial aroma from the glass is reminiscent of a well aged speyside whisky as a strong woody character brimming with spicy accents rises into the air. If I close my eyes, I receive impressions of tall oak trees surrounded by willow thicket. A grassy meadow is nearby with clumps of heather growing here and there, and in the distance a group of lilac bushes have just begun to bloom throwing their pollen into the breezes.
The glass keeps sending new signals into the air as impressions of anise and licorice begin to appear with persistent aroma of fresh green spearmint as well. Hints of cinnamon and cloves, and traces of freshly ground black pepper keep the aroma fresh and inviting. A light mustiness seems to be anchoring all of these scents and smells, and I cannot help but think of forgotten wooden granaries sagging in the sunlight with dusty old burlap sacks gathered in the corners.
In the Mouth 56.5/60
The rhum enters the mouth with the same intensity which it displayed in the breezes above the glass. I taste first and foremost the spicy sap of fresh wood chips, however, there is an obvious butterscotch sweetness which permeates the spirit, and this provides a counterbalance to the spicy rush of flavour. Winding through the woody/oaky flavours are herbal, grassy sensations which remind me of heather, sawgrass and lemon balsam, and in the midst of all of this are strong accents of menthol, licorice and spearmint. The rhum has a light underlying mustiness, and when I stretch my imagination I also taste hints of salty brine, a touch of black tar, and perhaps even a touch of iodine which completes the flavour profile.
This is a spirit with remarkable complexity!
In the Throat 14/15
Despite the rhum’s intense flavour, the spirit remains smooth in the throat. The palate is left coated with spicy sap-like flavours, but this is accompanied by the light coolness of menthol. The long lingering finish leaves flavours of mint, licorice and spice echoing in the throat.
The Afterburn 9.5/10
The Reimonenq Vieux 9 Year Old Rhum is wonderful complex, full flavoured, sipping spirit. Hopefully I can secure another sample for my end of the year Rum Howler Awards, because this rhum would certainly be a strong candidate for the 2013 Rum Howler Rum of the Year.
What a pity that the spirit is not available in North America!
You may (loosely) interpret the scores 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)