The Plantation rums are an interesting bunch. They are an ever-changing selection of rums from many islands, and from many years. They all come in bottles with a signature wrap of straw, and the bottles clearly list the island of origin, the year of bottling, and many list the age. These rums are produced by Cognac Ferrand, the makers of Pierre Ferrand cognac (I love their Ambre cognac), a company that was founded in 1989 in order to make and market high quality spirits. They certainly have done so with their cognacs, and most – if not all – of their Plantation rums, too.
The very first bottle of good rum I ever purchased – 4 or 5 years ago – was one of the Plantation rums, though I’ll be damned if I can remember which one. It was aged perhaps 12 years, but that was many years ago and I could easily be wrong. But it was a damned fine rum, complex and spicy, though a bit too woody for me at the time. Even still, I enjoyed the hell out of that bottle and shortly after it was finished I went out to find it again. Alas, the first store that had Plantation rums had 5 or 6 different kinds, and I was quite baffled since I didn’t have the mind or knowledge to note which one I had drank. I just figured that there was only one straw-wrapped Plantation rum, but when I found a slew of them I walked out and hit the Internet to do some research to find another good rum. If I remember correctly, the next rum I got was the Pampero Anniversario in its great leather bag. Even though I didn’t find that particular Plantation rum again – ever – I was quite happy with the Pampero.
Now a little smarter and somewhat knowledgable, I make note of which rums I get and which are good. I’m sitting on 3 Plantation rums right now – Trinidad `91, Trinidad `93, and Venezuela `93. When I taste them I’ll be sure to make some notes, and if any are great then I’ll be sure to grab an extra bottle since that vintage might not last forever. As I said, the Plantation rums change a bit. The Plantation web site no longer lists either the Trinidad `91 or the Venezuela `93.
Back to this specific rum, the Plantation Grande Reserve from Barbados. This was recently reviewed by Angelsword on the Ministry Of Rum’s forums. In the review Angelsword compared it to Sea Wynde, and the Plantation got his vote. His tasting notes convinced me that I should stay away from the Sea Wynde, and I immediately put the Plantation Grande Reserve on my list. When I saw it listed at RumBa last week I knew that I had to try it.
When tasting this rum I immediately noticed it’s thick legs clinging to the glass, and a slight green tinge around the edge. It’s a dark golden color, and the smell is sweet and slightly spicy. It has some earthy undertones mixed with a fruity touch, all nicely balanced.
The taste is much like the smell – somewhat sweet and fruity, with bits of woodiness and some nice fruit and spice. The complexity is quite nice, with no single taste really overpowering the others – a great balance. It’s also got a great mouthfeel with its smooth texture. This is a rich-tasting rum, though I was mildly saddened by its quick finish. But the spice lingers a bit more with a mild burn.
This is an excellent rum, nicely sweet but not overly so, decently complex and decently smooth with only a mild burn. To me, this is a winning combination. Because I got a shot at a bar I don’t know the price, but from what I can find on the web it’s priced around $20 – I’ve seen it cheaper and I’ve certainly seen it more expensive, but it should be in the low 20s. At this price, and with this quality, it makes for a good sipping rum or an excellent mixing rum. It’s a bit of a toss-up as to whether this belongs in my “Highly Recommended” category, but for now I have to put it at the top of my “Recommended” category. Perhaps when I get my own bottle – and I most certainly will – I’ll make another comparison and shuffle its placement.